In everything we do at JRS Coding School, we try to see through the eyes of a student. I’ve thought a lot about how we prepare our students for a rewarding career as a developer. I can, and do, share my experience as a developer with students at JRS Coding School, but to them, I am a teacher, first and foremost. So it’s important to expose them to as many developers as possible who are working in the Mount Pleasant-Charleston region. Throughout our 12-week course, we host social events on campus where local developers come by to have informal conversations with our students. Sometimes these conversations are casual and unstructured. Other times, the developers give a short presentation about what they do and what their daily schedules look like, and then have a question and answer session.
These informal conversations are an important part of the JRS Coding School experience, and they are beneficial for both the local developers and companies and our students. When a company is hiring a developer, they’re not just looking for talent. They are looking for a good communicator and a good fit for their company’s culture. Companies want developers who will work well as part of a team and embrace the goals of that team. These attributes are best assessed face-to-face.
Additionally, because we want JRS Coding School graduates to work with companies they are comfortable and happy with, we try to maximize their exposure to and interactions with potential employers. Informal conversations help our students understand how their careers could evolve by working with a particular organization, how they might be able to help a company, or how they would fit in culturally.
There are a number of well-known tech companies in Charleston, some of which have relocated from other cities to be in the area known as “Silicon Harbor,” each with its own mission, culture, and work-life balance ideals This influx of organizations presents an excellent opportunity for our students, so making meaningful connections is crucial.
Of course, our career activities go beyond happy hours at JRS. During the final weeks of each course, we offer mock screenings and mock interviews to our students to help them prepare for interviews with tech companies. Many local tech organizations have three parts to their interview: a pre-screening, a technical review, and a cultural fit screen. We help students prepare and hone their messaging for these conversations. We set them up with portfolios on GitHub, so that their project code is shareable, and they can show potential employers the code they wrote, in addition to their finished projects. We also offer professional headshots and business cards for our students that contain their GitHub links and contact information.
At the end of the day, I know that our students aren’t applying to JRS Coding School solely to learn to code—they’re looking for a holistic experience that will prepare them for new and rewarding careers. There’s an exceptional — and still growing — tech scene in Charleston that is hungry for talented developers. Graduates of JRS Coding School are best positioned to fill the open positions! If you’re interested in a new career as a software developer, I hope you’ll contact us to learn more.
Tom Wilson, Lead Instructor