Keval Baxi is the CEO and Chairman of Codal, a UX Design, Web & Mobile application development agency based in Chicago. Below, he shares his thoughts on hiring at General Assembly, why he uses General Assembly as a talent pipeline for his company, and tips for graduates on how to stand out to recruiters and hiring managers.
You can almost always find someone from my company, Codal, attending one of the “Meet & Hire” events at General Assembly’s Chicago campus. As an agency that has grown at a consistently high pace over the last few years, we are always looking out for additional talent to join our team. It can often be very challenging to find quality candidates for interviews, but we’ve had a lot of success with hiring at General Assembly — especially at Meet & Hire events. We’ve put together several aspects of GA that have brought our company value and advice for new grads about getting hired.
Our Experience With General Assembly: Career-Oriented Coursework
The GA course curriculum is both intensive and short, designed for individuals who wish to either broaden their existing education or receive a highly specific education in their field of choice. The last two people we hired from GA already had a degree in their field and capitalized on GA’s course offerings to focus their education.
It is deceptively difficult to find programs that cater to the specific needs of agency work. While it’s not difficult to find a “design” or “computer science” program, there’s no telling how much real-world readiness you’ll get out of it.
“There was a huge focus on career readiness at General Assembly. Everything was geared towards real-world scenarios and job preparedness.”
This was the first thing Brienne, our most recent hire, told us about her education at General Assembly. And the subsequent UX test that we administered to her proved this to be true, as she passed with flying colors.
GA’s focus on career readiness and real world preparation can be a huge competitive advantage in the industry. Because the emphasis on career readiness is weaker in traditional university programs, thousands of dollars are spent by agencies all over the world on training new recruits.
The people we speak with outside of GA are technically qualified for the job but they lack the skills that one typically only gets on the job or in a specialized program like those offered by GA.
The course curriculum taught at GA includes hands-on client projects that give students real experience with problem-solving under pressure and collaborating with a team. And, because their curriculum is refined on a regular basis and taught by instructors who have had actual work experience in the industry, students are exposed to relevant skills and thought processes that employers are looking for.
Advice for recent graduates
We talk to a lot of students when hiring at General Assembly and there are certain factors that make some stand out more than others. Here are some tips on what hiring managers and recruiters look for when speaking to prospective talent.
- Tell us about you, your process, your strengths, and your weaknesses.
- Interview the company:
- What type of projects would I be working on?
- What is your vision of the company in the next 5 years?
- Why should I work here?
- Go beyond the basics: what do you really want to know about the company that you have a possibility of working for?
- Be prepared to do some sort of challenge.
- Jump right into talking about or showing your projects — we’ll ask.
- Focus too much on explaining your projects when you do get to them.
- Instead, give us a quick, 10,000-foot view. Tell us about your role, what went well, what didn’t, and how you could improve the next time around.
Good luck, GA Graduates, as you transition from coursework to a full-time position at an agency or elsewhere. Don’t forget the real world practice that GA has given you—you’ll need it. This is often the factor that differentiates you from non-GA grads.
Prospective GA students, don’t be intimidated by the length of a program or the high-intensity curriculum. It will prepare you for the real world applications of your education, and it will help you stand out from all of the competition.
Meet students who are making UX awesome.