Posts about Career

7 Steps for Career Fair Success

March 29, 2017

While on the hunt for a new position, attending a career fair can be an incredibly valuable use of your time. However, as with any aspects of searching for a job, preparation is the key!

Career fairs can be busy – and sometimes overwhelming – events. There are often dozens of companies vying for your attention and numerous other candidates interested in positions just as you are. It’s important to make the most of your time there and use the opportunity to effectively engage with the companies you’d like to work with. Having been a part of many career fairs, we’ve compiled a list of what helps candidates stand.

7 Steps for Career Fair Success

1. Schedule in Advance

It has been said that 80 percent of success is showing up. This is certainly true when it comes to pursuing employment! While job seeking, it can be difficult to prioritize your time, but scheduling around career fairs can be a wise move. Your current job or other responsibilities may consume a good part of your calendar, so looking for career fairs in advance lets you plan accordingly. Having to rush from one thing to another will only cause additional stress, so the better you schedule your attendance, the more relaxed you can be as the event approaches.

2. Do Your Research

Always be prepared before you walk into the fair. That includes doing enough research and having your materials prepared. Now that you know that you will be attending a career fair, it’s time to figure out what companies will be present as well! As a rule, your interactions with someone representing a business shouldn’t ever include the phrase “I’m not sure what you do, but…”. Spending time learning at least the basics of an organization makes you look well prepared, and also allows you to have some questions ready to go.

If the list of employers isn’t included in the registration, feel free to reach out to the coordinator to get more information. Review the companies’ website, job openings, social networks, Glassdoor and anything else you can locate in a quick Google search. The more time that can be spent talking about what makes you unique as a potential candidate, the better impression you’ll make. It’s better to spend time talking about the specific positions, how qualified you are and finding unique ways to stand out than discussing the basics of the business.

3. Prepare Your Materials

Much like you wouldn’t show up to a hockey rink without skates and stick in hand, arriving at a career fair empty-handed isn’t a smart move either. While your main focus at the event will be interacting with people face to face, having your pertinent information in a physical format will make you memorable days and weeks after you have left. Printed copies of your resume, preferably in a clean layout (with bullet points representing not only responsibilities but also results), are an absolute necessity. After all, there could be hundreds of other people in attendance, so you want those details in the hands of decision makers for future reference. Additionally, while not always necessary, having business cards are another nice touch. They also have a tendency to stand up better in someone’s briefcase than a simple piece of paper.


4. Presentation is Key

Presentation is key. Think of a career fair like a first dateWhen the big day arrives, think of the career fair as a blind date with your future employer. It’s time to get a fresh cut, polish up your loafers and throw on your business best. You wouldn’t meet that person your friend wanted to set you up with in stained jeans and your lucky sweatshirt, right? Attire should be professional, but also keep your own comfort in mind – if you have a nice pair of shoes that always hurt your feet, maybe consider another option. You don’t want your lasting impression to be as the person who limped up to the booth, after all!

5. Have a Plan of Attack

Before arriving at the career fair, you should have a general itinerary in mind as far as which companies you want to visit. Representatives can frequently decide to head out early if the crowds start to die down, so leaving the employer of your dreams to the very end is a risky move. Additionally, it is good to know your own limits – if you are going to be at the event for hours on end, the odds are decent that you will not have the same energy level from beginning to end, so prioritize speaking with the companies of greatest interest before you start to fade out!

6. Ask Good Questions

Follow these tips to find career fair successOnce you have impressed people with your snappy outfit, and wowed them with your business experience, comes an often dreaded line – “Do you have any questions for me?”. The answer should always be yes. There is nothing wrong with carrying a notebook with you, and taking notes here will only serve to further the great first impression you are making. A cursory Google search can give you some solid ideas in advance, and combined with the research you should be doing on the registered companies, you should be able to come up with some A+ material!

7. Follow Up

After the event is over, and your pulse has returned to a normal rate, you may wonder what the heck to do next. Did you have meaningful conversations with anyone at the career fair? Follow up! To ensure you are able to do this, always be sure to get the contact information for anyone you speak to at a career-related event. Are they out of business cards? Boom, you have a notebook and pen ready to take it down the old-fashioned way. A brief email, thanking them for their time and referencing something specific that you discussed together, is a great way to cement this new connection. If you can time the email to hit their inbox right around 9am the following business day, you can even increase your chances of it being read!Always make sure you follow up!

If you have made it this far, you are probably very eager to practice at least a few of these handy tips. Luckily for you, Grand Circus has a great opportunity for you to put these to work! We will be hosting a Tech Industry Career Fair on April 6th (the day before the Tiger’s Home Opener, for the record), and would love to see you there!

5 Ways to Maximize Your Career Fair Booth

March 17, 2017

As the local tech industry experiences the sixth largest imbalance between the supply and demand for skilled workers, finding the right candidate can be a daunting task! There are a number of approaches to take, but one of the most tried and true is participation in a career fair. We have compiled a few tips to ensure your own success the next time you are tasked with manning the table for a few hours.

5 Ways to Maximize Your Career Fair Booth

  1. Know Your Audience

Give your career fair booth a boost with these helpful tipsMore often than not, each individual event is catering to a different skill set or experience level. While looking for an Executive-Level position, you probably aren’t going to find your most qualified candidate at a college event, right? Similarly, attending industry-specific fairs are a great way to target a specific skill set, as well as networking with people from companies you could potentially work with in the future.

Before committing to a career fair booth, do your research on what type of candidates will be there. Ask the organizers questions about what to expect, any specifics you should be aware of and insights on previously hosted events at the location. Catering your message, booth and conversations to the audience will help you more effectively attract the right candidates.

  1.  Leverage Your Network

Once you have registered to represent your company at a career fair, the work has only just begun. If your intention is to meet motivated candidates, broadcasting your planned presence at an event can ensure attendees will be looking specifically for you. While the organizers are inevitably marketing the career fair to boost registrations, sharing posts across your own social networks will only serve to increase the number of attendees seeking you out on the big day. Companies who leverage their own network tend to get significantly more attention at the event, both from organic traffic of event attendees and also people seeking out Your Business Inc.

  1. Choose Your Team Wisely

Give your career fair booth a boost with these helpful tipsThere is not a one-size-fits-all approach to properly staffing your table. Are you signed up for a career fair focused on increasing the number of women or minorities in tech? Consider that your company’s representatives should not be entirely composed of white males. Is the event aimed at recent graduates? A group of enthusiastic, younger employees might draw more potential candidates to come learn more about your company – just because Jerry has been in charge of handling job fairs since the Reagan administration doesn’t necessarily mean he is the right person to send every time.

Be sure that your team is fully informed about your company’s open positions, the responsibilities of that role and any future openings that may be in the pipeline. If they aren’t the hiring manager, ensure they understand the process and how to relay important information to the right team members after the event.

  1. Stand Out In A Crowd

Since you aren’t likely to be the only company in your field represented at a career-focused event, differentiating yourself is a key to getting attendees stopping at your table. Arrive early so you have ample time to set up and take a walk around the room to see setups from other companies.

The appearance of your booth is very important to attract the candidates you’re looking for. Create an inviting environment and be sure to smile. Career fairs can be intimidating for job seekers; make them feel comfortable approaching you. A tasteful sign, big enough to be noticed –– but not so large as to be a physical obstacle –– can make a big difference.  Simple tablecloths can also give your booth a nice look.

Make sure your booth stands out from the crowd!

If possible, creative swag can also draw a crowd –– for example, while pens and stickers have become a bit of a standard offering, items like wind-up toy robots or USB thumb drives not only make attendees seek you out, but also keep your company fresh in their memory for weeks to come. Don’t have any swag yet? Take a look around the career fair at what other companies have to chim up some ideas, and find ways to incorporate unique swag at future events. Some companies even offer giveaways at their table to further entice candidates to come by. (Need swag or printed materials? Some of our favorite companies include Porter Media Group, Discount Mugs, Corporate Specialities, Sticker Mule and Let Love Rule.)

As you prepare for the career fair booth, do your research on other companies that will be represented. Many event organizers will publish this information in the invite, promotional materials or are willing to share it with you directly. Learn about the companies if you aren’t already familiar with them, and be able to speak on what makes your company different

  1. Be Honest About Policies

While engaging in conversation with job fair attendees, transparency is key. If you are having a productive discussion with an attendee, yet your company currently has a hiring freeze in place, making note of that is important. The last thing you want is for an interesting future candidate to have a negative impression of your business due to a lack of clarity. Additionally, should your hiring process have specific barriers to entry, such as firm educational requirements, make sure to mention this where possible. While you don’t want to give away any classified material, making sure that you are not wasting your own time or that of an interested party ensures a productive event for all!

Now that you are armed with extra pointers, it’s time to put them to work! We regularly host Tech Career Fairs, sign up for our newsletter or check out our Career Fairs page to see what our next one is scheduled for.  

How to (Not) Land A Job: Our Top Interview No-Nos

March 14, 2017

Congratulations! Your resume and initial screening have impressed the company recruiters and you’re one step closer to that dream job you’ve had your eye on for the last few months. Now all that stands between you and the position is the all-important, but sometimes intimidating, in-person interview. (more…)

How To Interview For Your Dream Job In Tech

October 7, 2016

 

A large part of what we do during our coding bootcamps is to prepare our students for “life after.” From a technical standpoint, our students have to be solid. On day one on the job, they need to be a contributing member of their development team. But in order to actually land their dream job in tech, they also have to interview well. So, what are you employers looking for? What aspects of an interview can help folks stand out from other candidates?

Here are some things we coach our students on that’s helped them land jobs at companies throughout Michigan:

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5 Michigan Companies that use .NET

August 4, 2016

 

At Grand Circus, we know that people want to know where they’ll be able to use their skills once the bootcamp is over. One of the awesome things about learning .NET at Grand Circus is that there are lots of local companies that use this framework every day right in our own neighborhood. Here’s a brief sample of a few companies that use .NET where bootcamp graduates could possibly work.

Quicken Loans

Located just down the road from Grand Circus, Quicken Loans is an online mortgage lender that employs hundreds of developers. Quicken Loans was recently listed as one of the top 5 places to work in America by Forbes. The company has a large development team, so there are tons of seasoned developers to learn from as bootcamp graduates grow in their careers. Dozens of Grand Circus alumni currently work for Quicken Loans in a variety of positions—everything from interns to software developers!

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How to Mingle (Not) Like a Five Year Old

July 27, 2016

One of my many roles at Grand Circus was Director of Marketing and Admissions. This meant it was my job to create ways for people to learn more about Grand Circus, our work and ultimately decide if a coding bootcamp was right for them. So about a year and a half ago, I started organizing Open Houses where Grand Circus staff and former students would answer questions, tour people around our space and introduce people to our community.

Here’s the thing that I noticed during these Open Houses: people are awkwardincluding all of my coworkers. Now, I’m not falling into that usual stereotype trap that pigeonholes “techies” as nerds unable to make eye contact or carry on a conversation. No. The coworkers I’m referring to are actually all of our non-technical people.

mingling at a Grand Circus event

Here’s what would happen as people would walk into our space:

“Welcome to Grand Circus! Are you here for the Open House?”
“Uh, yes.”
“Great! We’re so happy you’re here. After you sign in, feel free to grab coffee or tea around the corner and sit wherever you’d like. We’ll start in about 10 minutes.”

This would happen every. Single. Time. So, I decided to do something about this. I created a training for the staff at Grand Circus that we’ve now integrated into all of our bootcamps.

I call it The Chioke Principle. (Hey. I created it. Why can’t I name it after myself? Plus, it helps you remember the steps.) So get ready to learn how to mingle, network and meet some new folks like a boss.

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Do Coding Bootcamp Students Get Jobs?

June 6, 2016

Great question! And the answer is yes, Grand Circus Bootcamp students do get jobs.

During the bootcamp, we tell students to start their job hunt when they’re half way through. This way, they can have interviews locked down during the bootcamp and can schedule more for right after they graduate. Many of our students have signed offer letters before they graduate!

Students in Class Learning

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Should MBAs Learn to Code?

January 20, 2016

Technology is changing the nature of the workforce, and it’s impacting what many MBAs will focus on in their career’s future. For students and graduates looking to pursue a career in product development or the tech industry, the question of learning to code has become a pressing one. Entrepreneurs like Vinicius Vacanti and Steve Blank have weighed in with their own views on the benefits of learning to code. But do these benefits really impact the average MBA student?

mba professionals increasingly learn to code

Here’s the thing: coding is hard. And to many MBA students with an already hefty workload, the prospect of adding yet another course, or even extracurricular endeavor, can be overwhelming. But the reality is, if you’re an MBA looking to land a job in the tech industry, learning to code will greatly improve your communication skills and your chances of finding a better job. Plus, at its most basic level, learning to code is learning to build things and solve problems, and these are most definitely skills that can be utilized in any industry. In an ideal world, everyone would learn programming at an early age; it teaches practical and adaptive thinking that can be applied throughout life.

A recent GMAC survey pointed out that U.S. employers see technical and quantitative aptitude as the third-most important skill set for MBA students. Coding on your MBA resume shows employers that you’re a logical thinker and are attentive to detail. It also shows recruiters and employers that you are better equipped to communicate effectively with technical and engineering staff. MBA graduates confirm this. Recently, Harvard Business School ran a survey of students who enrolled in CS50, the introductory computer science course at Harvard College. Of the 18 survey respondents who went on to work in the tech industry, 83% said taking the class was worth it, 17% said they weren’t sure, and none said taking CS50 was not worth it.

Despite the desire from employers to hire MBAs with some technical skills, most B-schools are slow to catch on; many offer no coding classes within the MBA curriculum while a few elite schools are only just adding electives to existing programs. A coding bootcamp can help bridge a gap for MBAs looking to enter the tech industry or pursue a career in product management. With an MBA, you’ve clearly gained the skills to understand what a customer wants. However, the technical skills that come with learning to code will help you communicate those insights to the engineering team, making you more employable and likely simplifying your job’s responsibilities.

In the end, there’s no question that programming knowledge is a valuable commodity to have. Even for graduates who don’t go on to become startup founders, a basic understanding of coding can have considerable impact on your job prospects. Literacy in coding is a major advantage in our technology-driven society and any determined MBA student should ensure they don’t get left behind.

Preparing For Your First Tech Talk

January 5, 2016

We’re taught to believe that there is a logical progression when it comes to our careers, that there are just certain things you can’t do in entry-level positions. One of those things is undoubtedly speaking at conferences. Conference speakers, in this collective narrative, are subject matter experts with years and years of experience under their belts. They know their stuff better than just about anyone. I’m here to tell you that, at least in tech, this isn’t always the case. You can start speaking like a developer quite early on in your career!

Aisha Blake Speaking at a Conference

Public speaking is one of the things we as human beings fear most. Even if you’re comfortable in front of a crowd, you might not feel qualified to talk about something you’re still in the process of learning. Newsflash: you will always be in the process of learning to be a developer! All any of us can do is keep pushing to hone our skills and share what we know with others who want to keep improving. Speaking needn’t be entirely altruistic, however. Preparing for a presentation is, in and of itself, a great way to learn! You’ll want to make sure you know your material inside and out, which often means researching and figuring things out that you might not have known before. There are tons of benefits to be reaped from the experience. Conferences can be incredible opportunities for networking, especially as a speaker. A larger event is likely to have at least one gathering specifically for speakers. It’s valuable to just get your name out there as well. You never know who’s in the audience. You might get your next contract or job or investor because someone saw you present.

One important thing to keep in mind is that not all events are created equal. Not every single opportunity to speak is going to be worth your time. Do your homework on the organization running the particular event you’re interested in speaking at. If the event is far away, will the organizers pay for you lodging and/or travel costs? Do they have a code of conduct? Is it robust or does it feel more like they’re checking off a box? Are there scholarships available for people who wouldn’t be able to attend otherwise? Do they offer childcare? Perhaps the most important thing to consider for you as a person new to speaking is how willing the conference organizers are to work with you on your talk. Many will be very happy to help you come up with a snappy title, craft your session description, and outline your talking points.

That being said, the preparation is really on you, so pick a topic you care about! It’s a lot easier to learn and talk about something that you have a vested interest in. You don’t have to be the world’s leading expert. Conference organizers will very likely ask what your intended audience is. If that intended audience is composed of managers or designers or other non-technical people, you needn’t worrying about getting too deep into the nitty gritty of the subject. Give them a starting point to build on! Your slides should be an even further distilled version of the points you want to make. No one wants to read a wall of text or, even worse, watch you read a wall of text to them. Keep those slides short and sweet, then elaborate verbally. This will become easier and easier as you practice your talk. (Because obviously you’re going to practice it over and over and over again, right?) Show it to your reflection in the mirror, your stuffed animal collection, your family, your friends, coworkers, random people on the street… Just practice! You’ll develop a rhythm and it will eventually be easy to fall into even if distractions come up.

But where to start? Some conferences have resources specifically devoted to new speakers. These present an incredible opportunity to get a foot in the door. Future Insights puts on excellent events and is very to their new speakers. Their Rising Stars program is a great avenue for new speakers to put their ideas out to an international audience. AlterConf is a series of smaller events in many different cities that focuses on diversity in tech and gaming. Self.conference is an awesome event here in Detroit that welcomes new speakers as well as more seasoned professionals. My very first tech conference (as well as my first speaking gig) was there! Interested in finding more events to submit talks to? Check out @CallbackWomen on Twitter. They have a constant stream of information on great events to attend and calls for proposals.

No matter what you choose to talk about or where you choose to do it, whether your presentation is five minutes or fifty, remember that this whole process is about learning. Just as we as developers are constantly challenging ourselves to get better at the things we don’t know, it’s important to share the things that we do know. Even if it seems like you don’t know a whole heck of a lot right now, it has value and you can use it to help someone else along on their own journey!


 

Why Teachers Make Good Developers

November 24, 2015

You’d be wrong to think teachers and programmers lie on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to careers. In fact, many of the characteristics that make a teacher successful are also qualities needed to become a great web or software developer. Just ask the four former educators in our current Front-End Bootcamp. Here are four of our favorites:

Why Teachers Make Good Developers

They Love Learning.
Teachers are always looking for ways to improve their efficiency and hone their skills. Professional development opportunities and continuing learning requirements are built into the profession. Similarly, web developers should always be thinking about how to do their jobs better; embarking on a never-ending cycle of learning to develop websites that perform better, run faster, and are easier to scale. Staying up to date on new technologies and programming languages is a necessary tool to keep your skills competitive. This always-be-improving mentality comes naturally for educators.

They’re Collaborative.
Successful teachers know that collaboration is an important element to a thriving educational environment. And better yet, research shows collaboration positively correlates to student achievement. Whether it’s English teachers and art teachers finding common ground where their disciplines overlap or veteran educators mentoring new teachers, benefits abound both for the educators and their students. Just like teachers, web developers know that two heads are better than one. A collaborative team means shared experiences and varying skill sets come together to form a dynamic environment. In fact, collaborative programming has become somewhat of a trend with events like hackathons and dojos. Some companies even encourage this collective approach with mob programming; “all the brilliant people working on the same thing, at the same time, in the same space, and on the same computer.”

They’re Good Communicators.
For a teacher to thrive in their profession, clear communication skills are a must. Excellent teachers are able to convey knowledge, skills, and values, while at the same time expressing care for their students. They’re also required to communicate to various groups with differing levels of understanding and involvement; the way a teacher expresses a concept to her colleagues may differ greatly from how she’ll express it to her students. Good communication skills are a key component to a successful career as a web developer, too. Programmers have no problem communicating with their peers and also need to be able to express their approach to non-programmers in layman’s terms. A good programmer will also be able to communicate practical information regarding scope of work and project timelines.

They’re Innovative.
And not just in a tech-savvy way. Teachers know how to solve problems; being innovative in their planning and implementation is just part of the job. And when it comes to tech, it’s not uncommon to hear about teachers building their own apps or websites to solve classroom problems that plague them day after day. The best computer programmers are also innovative. They have a knack for seeing the bigger picture and understanding how the minute details they’re often tasked to work on affect the overall vision.