Let’s say you just graduated from college with a good foundation in software development, and you’re looking to get a great job as a software engineer, but you don’t have any work experience. Suppose some outfit came along and offered to bring you to Reston, Va., the booming high-tech hub outside Washington, set you up in corporate housing, put you through 12 weeks of intensive training after which it hired you as a software engineer, and then placed you as a contractor with a Fortune 500 company that would likely offer you a full-time job. Oh, and suppose all of that was done absolutely free of charge. Pretty sweet deal, wouldn’t you say? So what’s the catch?
According to Joe Vacca, chief marketing officer at Revature, a provider of technology talent acquisition services in Reston, there is no catch. Revature aims to do just that with about 300 individuals this year, and it expects to at least double that number next year. So far, CUNY and Arizona State University have signed up to partner with Revature in this endeavor, and other universities are poised to follow. I had the opportunity to discuss all of this with Vacca last week, and I opened the conversation by asking him to elaborate on Revature’s model. Here’s how he explained it:
We recruit the top talent among university graduates from across the country. We put that talent in one of our on-campus boot camps, where they go through a 12-week, very intensive coding course. We teach them not only in-demand technologies, but enterprise-level skills — things like how to work within a team; the agile development process; how to work on projects. We hone their soft skills.
At the end of this, we have produced an enterprise-ready software engineer. We then place that software engineer with one of our corporate partners, which include Fortune 500 companies — they might be financial services companies, government contractors, or large retailers. They work at these large corporations as software engineers, and they integrate into the teams of these companies. And then typically, within a year or two after they start, they transition over and become a full-time employee with those companies.
If you think about the value proposition that we’re offering, we’re creating a career path for university graduates to get into technology. It addresses the issue of how they can get a job that requires experience, when they have no experience. It gets these individuals on a pathway to a high-paying job in technology — many of these individuals will be making six figures after about five or six years in the industry.
The employers get a sweet deal as well, Vacca said:
For the companies, the advantage is they get resources that can hit the ground running. We’ve heard feedback from our partners that they really can’t tell the difference between the software engineers that we place, and those on their staff that have one to two years of experience.
So these companies get to try before they buy, because these individuals come in as contractors who work for Revature. It’s a win-win across the board, and in the middle are universities like CUNY. They want their graduates to get the best high-paying jobs. And by partnering with an on-campus boot camp, we can take individuals within their university system, and whether or not they have a technology-specific major or minor, we can give them a foundation in coding, and give them the skills they need to get a job in technology. When you compare us to other coding boot camps, we’re actually hiring you when you graduate. So you know you have a job when you complete our boot camp.
As you might imagine, the program is very selective — according to Vacca, less than 1 percent of the pool of candidates makes it through. A university degree is a prerequisite, and anyone who doesn’t have a good foundation in programming is first enrolled in RevaturePro, an online training program that’s also free of charge:
RevaturePro is set up to give you projects that start at beginner, and work all the way up to advanced. That’s for someone who’s new to software development — to come in, learn the basics of software development, and create real-world projects. It allows university students, or others who are interested in learning software development, to go at their own pace in creating these projects. For example, one of the projects is to create a CRM system for a rental car company. At the end of that project, they have on the Web a CRM system that they’ve created and coded for.
They can incorporate these projects into their resume when they graduate. But more than that, it allows us to work with and mentor those individuals online — everyone who enrolls in the program is assigned a mentor who walks them through the process. Our hope is that many of these individuals will go on to participate in our coding boot camp.
You’re probably wondering, as I was, how on Earth Revature makes money doing this. According to Vacca, it’s pretty simple:
The way we make money is to assign them out as a contractor. The margin we make is on the hourly rate that we assign them out at. Some employers choose to hire these employees prior to the end of that contract, and they’ll pay a fee to us in order to bring them into their organization. So the revenue model for us is one that allows that individual to get that job.
Finally, I mentioned that I had recently interviewed an executive with the Software Guild, which offers a 12-week boot camp that specifically targets groups that are underrepresented in IT, including women, minorities, and veterans. I asked Vacca if that’s a focus for Revature, as well, and he said it’s actually just a natural outcome of the model:
The interesting thing about that is we do not target those groups. But we have found that our software engineers are extremely diverse. The reason for that is it’s a natural byproduct of our process. If you think about someone who is going to take advantage of our program, we’re naturally getting students in here from diverse backgrounds, not only based on gender and race, but also socio-economic background. Remember, we’re funding the training, and we’re also creating the pathway to the career. So someone who’s coming out of school, who may not have network connections to tap into to be able to find a job, are naturally coming to our program because we’re creating that pathway.
A contributing writer on IT management and career topics with IT Business Edge since 2009, Don Tennant began his technology journalism career in 1990 in Hong Kong, where he served as editor of the Hong Kong edition of Computerworld. After returning to the U.S. in 2000, he became Editor in Chief of the U.S. edition of Computerworld, and later assumed the editorial directorship of Computerworld and InfoWorld. Don was presented with the 2007 Timothy White Award for Editorial Integrity by American Business Media, and he is a recipient of the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for editorial excellence in news coverage. Follow him on Twitter @dontennant.