On Monday evening at the Cove, General Assembly held a panel bringing together experts from the staffing and development world to help attendees build toward a career they loved. Focusing on education and career transformation, General Assembly is a leading source for training, staffing, and career transition. Providing courses and programs specialized in today's most in-demand skills, General Assembly started in 2011 as a co-working space and has since expanded globally with campuses in fifteen cities with 25,000 graduates worldwide. A new location also opened recently in Irvine at the Eureka Building. Understanding that a fast-growing startup can seem like an attractive place to work, the panel provided insights from industry experts on how to navigate resources along with next steps on how to engage with these types of companies.
The program started with an introduction by Natalie Howard, Marketing Producer for General Assembly's LA Campus. Giving an overview of General Assembly to the audience, Howard also highlighted their commitment to engage with the Orange County community and provide value through events such as this one. Next, Howard introduced Matt Bailey, Director of the Collaborative Venturing Group for Applied Innovation. Welcoming General Assembly to the Orange County ecosystem, Bailey also provided an overview of Applied Innovation.
Afterward, Gaurav Valani, President, and CEO of CareerSprout and Instructor at General Assembly began his presentation, sharing his experience with various career paths in sales and talent acquisition. Realizing the gap in fulfillment and satisfaction from his previous jobs, Valani decided to build a staffing company with other co-founders who shared the same vision to approach the industry with a different ethos. After a successful acquisition of his company in early 2016, Valani decided to continue on the path of helping others find meaningful work that aligned with their values with his latest company, CareerSprout. Valani highlighted strategies such as compiling a list of one hundred people in the desired career field to contact and conduct informational interviews. He shared that learning from the experience of active practitioners in their area of interest could provide invaluable insight. Valani concluded his presentation by emphasizing that pursuing new responsibilities rather than titles yields a more substantive experience at a job which will inform whether it is in alignment with a person's goals and criteria for fulfillment in the long term.
Next, Valani served as moderator for the next panelist, Sean Bullock, an experienced software engineer with over twenty years in the industry and fellow instructor at General Assembly. As a self-taught programmer, Bullock shared his humble beginnings in technical support and sales, eventually deciding to pivot toward programming for his career. After a successful career working for large companies such as Experian, he decided to shift his career toward teaching and to nurture the next generation of software developers through coding boot camps. Bullock shared that a big misconception about a career in technology is that the number of years in a role equates to more expertise than someone coming out of school or a boot camp. Bullock contended that due to the quickly changing landscape, everyone is always learning to keep up. Bullock mentioned the effort decides the difference between someone who comes from a coding boot camp and a ten-year veteran. For those new to their industry or looking to learn, he shared that learning about new trends for the companies they are interested in working is a great place to start. "By showing proof to potential employers you have a passion, are tuned in, and are actively engaging with the community, you are also telling them through your actions that you are proactive in your professional development," said Bullock.
Max Schnepper, Practice Manager for Workbridge Associates, joined in for the last segment of the presentation by providing an additional recruiter's perspective on career development. Highlights of Schnepper's presentation included that compensation and money will follow skill rather than titles alone and that training coupled with passion are essential for employers. All panelists were in agreement that the notion of being self-taught and obtaining an education from boot camps have become embraced by more employers over time.
The event concluded with a Q&A and raffle by panelists for services valued at several thousand dollars ranging from workshops, classes, resume critiques, and 1-on-1 coaching. To learn more about General Assembly visit: www.generalassemb.ly.
Hai contributes to the Cove as a content writer for both the Currents newsletter and blog. As an alumnus of UCI with a degree in English and a co-founder of a local creative agency, Hai's focus is centered on spotlighting events, stories, and startups within the Orange County community. He is passionate about entrepreneurship and has participated in fast-pitch competitions through the UCI Antrepreneur Center and has co-organized local business and startup groups such as 1 Million Cups and Orange County Young Entrepreneurs.