It’s our fourth full week of fully online/remote operation here at NSS. And it’s yet another week where we’ll have several chances to say, “Well, we’ve never done things this way before!”
The main “first time we’ve done it this way” for this week is onboarding a new class completely online. Adding to the fun is the fact that we’re starting two classes online this week. Full-time Web Developer Bootcamp cohort 40 and Part-time Web Developer Cohort E12 both launched yesterday (Monday, April 6). We got everyone introduced to each other, ran through orientation to NSS, and got right into software installs and configuration. We welcome all of our new students and look forward to a day sometime soon when we can meet you all in-person and see you in a physical classroom, not just in Zoom!
We’re also continuing a process that really got rolling last week of holding all of our career development activities and events online. The career development track in our programs is an integral part of preparing our students for the transition into their new tech careers. The career development activities help students understand the interview process for dev jobs, help them add experienced developers and managers to their professional networks, help them gain perspective on the differences between how different types of organizations work and the roles that software developers play in various industries, etc. We’ve built an excellent and effective career development process over the years but it has always relied on a very in-person, very Nashville way of connecting people. Since we can’t do that for the time being, we’ve had to see if we could adjust how we do career development without losing the quality of what we have been doing.
Last week, we held two major career development activities online for the first time: a roundtable event and a Demo Day. We posted yesterday more details about Demo Day (as well as our first ever online graduation ceremony following Demo Day). We had been very nervous about trying to set up online interviews to replace the in-person interviews in a normal Demo Day - plus the big question of whether anyone would even want to interview given that it seems like the world is locked down. It turns out that lots of companies were still very interested in interviewing new software developers. All of our students had a series of interviews scheduled and almost every interview slot was filled. There were glitches but overall it went well and we have more employers setting up interviews with those graduates this week.
The roundtable event is a structured networking event involving students and working tech professionals and a chance for students to get questions answered about interviewing, how companies onboard and mentor new staff, what the first 90 days on the job is like, and similar questions that students typically have. Again, taking it online went well based on the general feedback from both students and guests.
This week we’re doing multiple mock interview sessions for two different groups of upcoming graduates - our Data Science Cohort 3 students and Web Developer Bootcamp Cohort 37 students. Going online actually allows us to spread a series of mock interviews across multiple days instead of trying to jam them all into a single evening. We’re really looking forward to the first rounds of online mock interviews this week.
This morning we held our first virtual front-end demo day where Cohort 38 presented their capstones to Cohorts 39 and 40. Front-end demo day marks the half-way milestone for our web development cohorts and gives the newer cohorts an opportunity to see what they will be able to build in three months. With three classes and staff in attendance, we nearly maxed out our 100 person capacity for the room in Zoom.
We also will hold our monthly Analytics & Data Science Info session online this coming Wednesday, April 8. This is the first online session of this info session. If you’re interested in a career in data analytics or data science this info session will help you understand how you can acquire the skills necessary to head down one of those career paths. You can sign-up here for the analytics info session. The following Wednesday, April 15, we will hold our monthly NSS info session where we will talk about all of our programs at NSS, from data analytics to web development to data science. Again, this session is online and you can sign-up here to attend.
As I was writing some of this blog post on Monday afternoon, I happened to look out my home office window. It was a beautiful spring day. I could see multiple dogwood trees flowering in the neighborhood, redbud trees as well, two or three other flowering trees and flowers, and several types of birds hanging out in our backyard. It was a nice reminder that life goes on, even with the coronavirus-related physical distancing and lockdown that we’re all experiencing. This will pass one of these days soon and we’ll be able to get to work helping the economy recover and figuring out what our new normal looks like.
If anything, this crisis is almost certainly going to result in even more organizations recognizing the importance of their digital infrastructure. I strongly believe that the long-term trend toward “software eating the world” will continue and quite possibly accelerate. And we’re going to need more software developers and data analytics professionals to make that happen. We’re here to help those who want to make that career transition.