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Home Life@Lendio Aspiring Lendio
Today, demand for software engineers is as strong as ever. Businesses in the shadows of Utah’s Silicon Slopes are competing for a limited pool of experienced engineering talent.
Education has always been the foundation of career opportunities, but how this training looks, especially in technology careers, has rapidly evolved over the last 30 years.
Traditional computer science (CS) degrees are one good path for people who have that opportunity. Whether the learning happens at a university or a bootcamp or free online courses, entering this field takes a lot of learning.
Today, technical knowledge is readily available online for free. The primary value of formal education isn’t random bits of knowledge. It adds two things:
Education can be very expensive. When I started at the University of Utah, I could easily pay for tuition and books with a part-time job at a bookstore. I lived at home, got free food, and my parents had a car I could use. I think I made around $4.25/hour during my freshman year.
Today, my alma-mater’s tuition for in-state residents is $9,002 per year. That doesn’t include books, housing, food, cars, gas, clothing, etc. Most 18-25 year olds don’t make enough to cover all these costs. Many go into debt with hopes that the investment will pay off when they start a good-paying job.
But there is a flood of “bootcamp grads” who can’t find jobs. They have debt. They want to be able to rent an apartment. Buying a home feels impossible for those whose parents can’t help with a down payment.
All of us aspire to be in a position to meet our needs and do work that feels satisfying. All of us aspire to grow. Those of us who are a few years into this career remember the stress of trying to land that first real job.
Lendio has hundreds of employees with many various appealing career paths. We also have a lot of entry-level positions that don’t require degrees. These positions are very important to the business, but they’re not the jobs people want to be in long-term.
Many employees in other departments want a career in software development. Many have already completed boot camps or college courses, but haven’t been able to find that first dev job.
(of a quality or state) existing but not yet developed or manifest, hidden or concealed.
Every company has employees with latent abilities.This baby hawk may not be able to fly today, but you can easily see that it has this potential!
Most people don’t need access to skills training. This is readily available online. They need:
Soon after starting here I met Jake. He began in customer service (CX) and quickly saw a need for better reporting. He was interested in software and looking at local bootcamps, but wasn’t ready to get a dev job. He found a way to simplify some reporting with Google Sheets. His technical propensity landed him a new position in product support, a role that sits between customer service and engineering. He finished his bootcamp, but couldn’t yet get a dev job.
There were others like him. People who had completed some training then hit the wall of Imposter Syndrome. That voice in the head we’ve all experienced. It tells you you’re not smart enough, you don’t have the right education or degree. It tells you everyone around you is smarter or has more privilege (i.e. rich family) to give them access to opportunities not available to you.
We started a small meetup each Thursday during lunch. Our first name was based on an old 80s movie, but soon we learned the name had taken on a negative connotation, so we quickly changed it to Aspiring Devs. Two devs. Three aspiring devs.
For months, we met and talked about fundamentals, confidence, interviewing, and did sample projects. Every quarter, we recapped where we had been and brainstormed what we wanted to improve.
With a few iterations under our belt, we’ve adjusted and started to spread the word within the company. Yesterday, 18 months after we started, we launched our 4th Quarter 2022 Aspiring Devs Cohort. 12 Aspiring Devs, each paired up with a Lendio engineer as a personal mentor.
We’re having weekly check-ins to talk about progress and demo what’s been done over the previous week. Mentors have been asked to spend an hour per week with their mentee. This Tuesday, we’ll start weekly after-hours meetups. We’ve found we need more hands on keyboards time together to help people get over humps. Left alone, people often hit walls and get back into the Imposter Syndrome cycle.
Our goal isn’t to replace formal education. We aren’t a “bootcamp”. We’re a network of friends, there to support each other.
When we started, I thought I was being a nice guy, sacrificing some of my time for the benefit of those trying to break into this career. Quickly, it became apparent that trying to be a mentor exposed my own gaps in knowledge.
My dad was a teacher and he was right: you don’t really know something until you can effectively teach it.
Devs throughout our company are connecting with each other. These relationships, besides being fun for their own sake, spawn new connections that lead to faster learning, smoother communication, and better knowledge.
This group is also creating new connections between people across various departments. When people spend time together, we learn about the jobs everyone is doing and get a broader vision of the company.
This ain’t no charity. We’re all benefitting. We’re anticipating more people leveling up, whether it’s their first dev job or transferring to a new, adjacent position that is more technical.
Devs aren’t the only employees at Lendio. We have product managers, UX designers, marketers, data scientists, sales, operations, and many other functions.
Not everyone aspires to be a dev. Some employees are excited about other career paths. While the education requirements may vary, everyone benefits from developing a close network of mentors and peers working toward the same goal.
The Aspiring Dev group already has the wheels of one of our passionate product managers planning on a similar concept for that discipline.
Sure, you can get that remote job that pays California salaries to Utah employees. Sitting at home and making more money appeals to some people. I’ve chased money before and usually found it came at a cost I didn’t like.
During Sunday dinners, my dad used to tell how excited he was for Monday. I feel that way about working at Lendio. It’s more than just writing software and making money. It’s about relationships, meaningful work, and feeling the satisfaction of making a difference! And getting paid pretty well while I’m at it.
At Lendio, we’re all aspiring to grow! It’s great to be a Lendion!
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