At 2U, we pride ourselves on the power of our partnerships, which extend beyond the walls of our university partners and into the workplace. The Career Services, Industry Insights team for 2U-powered boot camps has forged particularly strong bonds with industry-leading companies. Through these connections, the team introduces employers seeking rich tech talent with boot camp-trained professionals who have the skills employers need and provide learners with access to career advice from those employers.
One of the ways the Industry Insights team engages employers is by inviting industry experts to virtual events to talk about their career paths and their company cultures. They recently hosted a tech panel with professionals from Autodesk, a multinational leader in 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software. Panelists shared their background in tech, lessons learned, and advice for boot camp learners completing their program in a challenging time.
Following the event, one of the panelists, Software Engineering Manager Zohar Liran, shared additional insights about what he looks for in a good engineer, what budding engineers should consider with potential employers, and the generosity of the tech world.
The Two-Way Street of the Tech Industry
According to Zohar, events that bring together educational providers, students, and industry professionals are part and parcel of the symbiosis that is characteristic of the entire tech industry. Citing other examples of mutual benefit, such as engineers using open-source libraries and developing free software packages, he sees the tech panel he was on as yet another element in this ecosystem of sharing and mentoring.
“The idea of constantly giving back is something that works across the board,” he said. “I think it’s really important for more established professionals to allocate some time for the new generation of engineers. To give the newcomers some direction and tips. To reassure them that as intimidating as it may seem to enter a big industry like tech, they can be successful if they keep in mind a few key points.”
Supply and Demand
Among these key points is understanding the great demand for talented and driven software engineers. This urgent need on the business side can offer potential employees the latitude to think carefully about what they want from their career.
“You have the power as an engineer to really choose the field, the company, and the team that is really interesting to you,” Zohar said.
Equally important for budding tech professionals is not to get locked into a constrained mode of thought that revolves around only the hard skills they’ve learned. Zohar encourages applicants to think creatively when they’re in the hiring process: to imagine what the hiring manager is looking for and to not be intimidated by what they don’t know or didn’t happen to learn.
“Don’t get locked down by the fact that your formal education may have concentrated on one language,” he said. “The idea of being a good engineer is the fact that you can tackle any problem in any language. Most problems don’t require the foremost expert to solve them. Most problems require someone who is fully engaged in the problem and is not willing to let go of the rope.”
The Individual Above All
Zohar is happy to have hired boot camp learners with this type of determination and confidence, but he is quick to note that he doesn’t generalize about groups of people based on program format or education. For what he calls his “precision hiring” needs, he looks instead at the individual, particularly to see if they display two critical characteristics.
“For me, the most important abilities are to think clearly—to process information and problem solve in a very organized yet creative way—and then to communicate it,” he said.
To determine whether they have these attributes, Zohar encourages his hiring team to try to make the interview process as friendly and comfortable as possible—to strip away the factors that can lead to applicant nervousness—so that they can evaluate the person in their most authentic form.
The 2U-Powered Pipeline
Zohar knows that recruiting great talent is a resource-intensive process, so having a reliable pipeline of talent is vital for his team.
“Hiring a person is costly. We have a whole army of people at Autodesk just to find people,” he said. “If we have a good relationship with a partner that produces good engineers at the end of the process, that contributes to our pipeline.”
Zohar is pleased with what he has seen thus far from the 2U Industry Insights team.
“A few months ago we had an opening for one of our teams,” he said. “Within a day, we received from the 2U team a stack of resumes and contacts for us to interview. We’ve had good response time, and the people we’ve worked with have been great. I think it’s a great beginning of a funnel.”
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