Career growth is a team sport. That’s why every Thinkful student works with a whole roster of Thinkful employees to ensure they reach their goals. From a student’s initial phone call with the admissions team to interview prep sessions with our career coaches, our top priority is student success and providing the best support possible throughout the duration of their program.
One team in particular sets the structure for the entire student experience. The program management (PM) team helps students with everything — from setting up student accounts, meeting course checkpoints, to ensuring students are engaging with their community and having a beneficial relationship with their mentors. We recently caught up with our Associate Director of Program Management, Lauren Jacobson, to see how program managers at Thinkful help students successfully complete the course, and ultimately, land new jobs in tech.
What kind of student support is provided by Thinkful’s program management team?
The program management team is focused on student academic success. We oversee the entire student journey— from enrollment into the course all the way through graduation. We build mutual accountability by guiding students throughout the course to help them reach their career goals. We guide students with both asynchronous and synchronous communication – video chats, check ins, emails, Slack – and in person events as well. The program management team at Thinkful is all about creating the highest quality student experience possible.
How exactly does the PM team create the highest quality student experience?
We have found ways to optimize the student experience using data. For example, we had data about student activity that helped us understand common student struggles. We are now able to showcase where students are having trouble and how we can step in – whether it's activating an email, setting up a meeting, etc. With this next wave of data we’re uncovering, we're going to be able to cater the types of check ins that individual students need based on their skill level, and where they are in the program.
We're constantly iterating and always trying to find ways to make the Thinkful student experience better, a more quality experience overall.
Data also led to the creation of Thinkful local communities. Could you share the back story?
One big change for the Thinkful student experience has been the development, and expansion, of local communities. About two years ago, we conducted surveys with students to learn about their satisfaction, experience, and engagement needs. Based on that research, we learned that students cared about engaging in a community outside of the classroom. The whole company — and our team especially — began to invest time and energy into building and growing our local Thinkful communities. We now offer local specific webinars and in person meetups covering fundamentals, intro courses, and skill building. We also offer fun events like trivia nights, mini hackathons, and more.!(https://s3.amazonaws.com/tf-nightingale/2019/05/student-success-images-03-3.jpg)
Now, Thinkful has a local community team — meaning we’re able to dedicate a full set of resources for students to engage our community on the ground. Since launching this initiative, we’ve hosted community events in the following cities:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Salt Lake City
How do program managers decide what student improvements to tackle first?
The program management team’s first goal is making a decision that's best for the students. We're always thinking about which changes are going to positively impact our students and their career outcomes the most. Internal team optimizations like processes improvements are also really important and done in conjunction with the work that we're doing with students. However, we know that our highest leverage projects are focused on improving the student experience and providing the best return on education.
How do you engage a community of Thinkful students when they learn online? What are some of the unique challenges?
Community is community no matter where it surfaces. Whether it's online or in person, all of our students deserve to have a high quality experience by being a member of the community.
At Thinkful, we engage our community in a variety of ways. We have an awesome study buddy program where students can connect with peers that are in similar parts of the course for pair programming. We also have Slack channels for specific community discussions. Students often post in these channels to share career updates and to notify others of cool events in the area. There’s always room for growth so we’re always focused on making improvements.
When it comes to remote students, what’s most important is for them to know that we, as program managers, care about them. We treat the relationships that we build online with students the same way we treat relationships we would build in person.
It’s also important that we consider all the different backgrounds our students come from, various home and work situations. The majority of our students are not full-time students and have other life commitments. Students have unique situations, and we’re eager to be responsive to their unique needs. Having empathy for our students’ diverse backgrounds is incredibly important to community engagement.
Why should prospective students get excited about Thinkful’s PM team?
Our goal at Thinkful is to provide an awesome learning experience through community building and support, while helping students graduate and land a job in tech. Our PMs work tirelessly to help support students – that is our number one priority.
It’s really important for students to know that we are acting in their best interest. The PM team is not around to mislead students. We want people to know how they're doing in the course, know how they're progressing, and what steps they need to make positive adjustments. We are going to be honest with you, give you transparent feedback, and provide supportive resources so that you successfully complete a Thinkful course.
Are you ready for Thinkful to support your career growth? See which tech career fits you best.