We at The Portal believe that 1–2 years of experience during university is critical to successfully landing a job out of graduation.
Colleges, universities, and higher educational systems are vital for laying the foundations of knowledge and hard, technical skills, but they face problems of accessibility and the fluctuating standards of a rapidly shifting, technologically-evolving job market; universities can’t keep up with the growing skills gap. There is an opportunity to open access to higher education through community colleges, which are more flexible and committed to market-based career and skills-development learning above academia. We believe community colleges are the emerging, local platforms through which to build alliances with local business ecosystems in order to develop new talent and channel job seekers into the market.
In parallel to higher education, new technologies and private sector programs are bringing skills-focused alternatives to young talent seeking job readiness. Self-learning tools such as Codecademy, Code.org, Coursera, and Lynda.com have democratized subject-specific learning into training modules, tutorials, and online degree programs. These are empowering and important tools; however, we have found that youth still require hands-on, real world experience to receive competitive offers in technical fields in the technology industry. Therefore, immersive, offline programming coupled with online, self-learning tools have yielded the best results in our own work.
We also look to private sector-led training programs as a compass for changing trends in technical and other professional skills across the technology industry. Companies like Amazon, AT&T, and IBM provide new and experienced talent with the chance to prime themselves for an increasingly competitive job market. Their programs provide training to potential hires, developing and honing the skills that they need in order to thrive in their new positions.
Ultimately, the skills of job markets continue to fluctuate and evolve over time, stakeholders across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors must adapt and collaborate for the benefit of new talent. More must be done to leverage each other’s resources and know-how to make the career preparation journey more transparent, accessible, and hopeful for young graduates.
"The Portal has offered me a plethora of opportunities to grow and learn. It has been more than just a place to develop web applications for local startups. It has been a gathering of some of the brightest and most motivated individuals ready to surmount any challenge. The Portal fosters in everyone the notion of teamwork being paramount to success. Working with the people at the Portal has been a wonderful experience; there is so much to be gleaned from being in a team of developers with unique and diverse skillsets.
It is thanks to the Portal that I have been able to garner ‘real world’ experience (and the ‘real world’ challenges that come with it). Being involved in all stages of a complex software project is not something that everyone can say they’ve done. For me, seeing the fruition of my work is one of the most rewarding parts of being part of The Portal."
- Andy Feng
This article was originally posted on Medium, April 10, 2017.
The Portal is bringing a pioneering model to the tech industry in southern California by breaking out of curriculum-based learning and into live project-based, professional immersion.
We don’t have a standard curriculum with lectures or classes. Instead, our apprenticeship program offers student teams the opportunity to learn hands-on with actual clients. We produce developers that are primed for job placement.
How do we transform students into experienced hires?
Our model is based on 3 phases:
Phase 1 Training: Utilizing a project simulation structure, we provide the basics of full-stack development. Students learn individually and in groups to promote peer-to-peer learning. The most successful students in training are placed into more challenging and exciting projects in Phase 2.
Phase 2 Live projects: We roll-up our sleeves with students who learn the greatest lessons and demonstrate the best practice on the job. This includes working in a cross-functional team with project managers and UI/UX designers to bring a completed product scope to a client.
Phase 3 Job placement: Through our direct pipelines to local companies that are constantly seeking technical talent, we place graduating students into full-time jobs. At this point, the student becomes a Portal alumnus and remains in our network to mentor and advise new cohorts of students.
Our model however, is not the pioneering aspect of our work.
The secret to success throughout each phase of the program starts right at the beginning: accessing and retaining raw talent — the hungriest, the most ambitious, and the most committed. This means that we are not always the most skilled developer in the room, but the individual with the greatest desire to successfully complete challenging projects, lead teams, and collaborate in problem solving.
Attracting and retaining this talent requires The Portal to provide just the right balance of:
Connect to us on Twitter @ThePortalio or Facebook @theportal.io to tell us more!
Originally published on our Medium on December 19, 2016.
The Portal is a product strategy and development studio bringing exciting web and mobile products to local companies in southern California. Our vision is to be a local talent engine for high-tech driven businesses throughout the country.
We are bridging the gap between companies who spend inordinate amounts of time and resources looking for experienced hires to join their teams to build great products, and exceptional talent who need real-world opportunities to kick start a fulfilling career.
Led by a team of experienced designers and developers, we offer competitive apprenticeship opportunities to students and young professionals who gain real-world experience on live development projects with local companies, and then are placed into full time jobs within our network.
We have learned a lot up until this point, and we want to share our story, lessons, and reflections.
Our team principles embody the spirit of our impact and vision. We take these principles seriously, and have worked together with our students and team members to outline them:
Experiential: We don’t have training modules and we don’t give out grades. The Portal brings students out of a traditional learning environment — the clients, the products, and the experience are all real.
Collaborative: Students are expected to advise and guide teammates, and constantly provide feedback to senior trainers. By working horizontally, we’re always exchanging knowledge.
Inclusive: We prioritize transparency and voice for students and team members alike. Ensuring this communication has been the key to cultivating a culture of community.
Empowering: We’re always working to provide a balance of competitive opportunities and fun experiences for students to produce outstanding products for companies. Motivated students are the key to our success.
Our team didn’t always have these set of principles firmly set. Lacking these foundations made it hard to capture our envisioned impact or create a road map forward. By critically looking at our strengths (and weaknesses), we have re-centered our team on a core identity and what drives us.
We’re excited for what lies ahead!
Originally published on our Medium account, December 2, 2016.