TJ Kinion leads the employment prep and search process for LearningFuze students and graduates. He is a key component in preparing students once the program is complete. Certainly the technical skills need to be competitive, but believe it or not the soft skills are equally and for many companies even more important than the technical. It is for this reason that LearningFuze has brought on TJ to lead this aspect of the program.
TJ has acquired the knowledge and skills to understand how to effectively run an employment search as he spent 4 years working for one of the largest IT staffing companies in the U.S. He began his staffing career in Nashville where he spent 2 years helping to grow the operations before moving to the great white north in Toronto to help establish the first international office for the company. In addition to leading the staff he had a myriad of responsibilities including interviewing developers, talking with hiring managers and simply understanding the needs of companies in the tech industry and the qualities they look for in a developer. This included a wide range of different companies from fortune 50 to small startups. After 4 years in the tech recruitment industry he caught the “coding bug” and decided to invest in learning to code before coming back to California and joining the LearningFuze team.
TJ’s day to day focus revolves around preparing students to compete for jobs once the program is complete and includes teaching how to build a compelling resume, establish a strong online presence and how to execute an effective job search. In addition students spend time practicing their interviewing skills with mock interviews taking place multiple times throughout the program. Given TJ’s development skills he also provides assistance and feedback in ensuring students have a polished and presentable portfolio of projects. Each student has somewhat different needs given their background, education and work experience so it is paramount that he work closely with each person to build a custom game plan so that each graduate is best prepared to impress employers and land that dream job whether that is through LearningFuze employer relationships, the graduates own network, various postings, alumni or 3rd party recruiters. It is also imperative that we are consistently working to develop new relationships with employers and TJ spends a significant amount of time reaching out to the hiring community on behalf of graduates. Make no mistake it is absolutely a partnership between all involved and to achieve the best results in the least amount of time it not only takes commitment during the program but also during the job search. That commitment revolves around a couple of key concepts:
- Network, Network and more networking. Students are strongly encouraged to interact with the different employer speakers that come to the facility to address the students as well as participate in different events both at LearningFuze and in the greater tech community. However, students are often amazed at how their own network connects them to different opportunities. Friends, family and acquaintances often have surprising connections!
- In addition to preparing well for the mock interviews, students are encouraged to practice on their own and practice with friends as well as fellow cohort mates. Just as with the technical skills, practice is key!
- The job search process is exponentially smoother and faster when graduates have a polished portfolio. LearningFuze operates as QA for graduates by reviewing code, application functionality and the presentability of the different applications so that graduates put their best foot forward.
Choosing a program that is committed to students not only during the program, but after the program is a critical component of ultimate success, which for the majority of students is employment at the job of their dreams. What could be better than doing what you are passionate about at a great company!
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