By: Denise Clark
What do you do when you – and the clients you serve – are having trouble finding the right IT talent? You innovate.
About seven years ago, Manifest Solutions found itself looking for technology talent to meet its exacting standards and, not finding what they were looking for, launched Manifest Agility Boot Camp in January 2011. This innovative and different IT boot camp selectively chooses 12 students, who have a 2- or 4-year computer degree, for each of three Boot Camp sessions held per year. These lucky few are paid to complete the six-week training provided by industry-recognized practitioners.
According to Christopher Judd, Manifest Solutions Chief Technical Officer and Partner, 50 percent of people employed in the consulting industry have less than five years of experience.
“A lot of companies are looking for those with 10 years or more of experience,” said Judd. “Which is why getting our student consultants up-to-speed quickly is so important. We intentionally select students who already have computer degrees because we are trying to bridge the gap between what they learn in school and what the clients are expecting.””
According to the Manifest Agility Boot Camp website: “We pay you, coach you, and challenge you—placing you in real-world simulated projects where you learn how to collaborate within a team environment to solve complex problems.”
Paying Boot Camp students, a unique feature of the program, was non-negotiable for the Manifest Solutions team.
“If they are getting paid they will pay better attention,” said Judd. “I want them to feel like this is the job – they are a part of Manifest – not something they are going to finish and go somewhere else.”
“It is an investment in them,” said Nancy Matijasich, Manifest Solutions CEO. “We wanted them to know that they are important.”
“We were ahead of the curve by about two years with this boot camp,” said Judd.
“People really didn’t understand it at first,” said Matijasich. “But once our clients were able to interact with our first Boot Camp students, they were able to understand what we were doing. In fact, one of our clients hired all students enrolled in our first Boot Camp because those students had been trained in the exact skill sets he was looking for and not able to otherwise find.”
Boot Camp students first send in a resume and then have a phone interview with a Manifest Solutions recruiter. There is also a technical aptitude screening, a coding exercise and finally a face-to-face meeting. Boot camp students are selected based on technical skills, ability to write code, willingness to be a consultant and even social skills.
The program, which has had students ranging in age from 19 to 45, took off with others wanting to be part of such an innovative and beneficial program. Not only did it benefit those who completed the training, but Manifest has also benefitted in ways beyond finding, training and hiring the right IT talent.
“We learned a lot about hiring, recruiting and onboarding on-site,” said Doug Deken, Manifest Solutions Vice President. “We really want those students completing Boot Camp to be the right fit because we want our consulting clients to experience success with the consultants we are providing.”
“Every class gets better and the client engagement gets better because you learn from every class,” said Deken. “You get better at qualifying people. You pick up on what you can do to better prepare students for their consulting experience.”
The advantage that Boot Camp students have is not only learning leading-edge technology but also understanding how to apply the technology to the business side and solve enterprise problems.
Boot Camp has been so impactful for the 146 graduates that there is a Boot Camp alumni group that comes together during Alumni Night which is always held during the first week of a new Boot Camp.
“There is a community aspect that is created through the Boot Camp process – even those who have moved on from Manifest Solutions still share that bond with the other consultants,” said Judd. “They will always have that kinship.”
Manifest Solutions is piloting an advanced training segment for the Boot Camp series that focuses on the next stage of career progression and development for Boot Camp students. As they did with the original Boot Camp, Manifest Solutions is careful to start small with this pilot program so they can learn from it and adjust accordingly.
The program is unmatched,” said Deken. “the investment and dedication we put into it is unparalleled. We genuinely care.”
If you are interested in expanding your IT skill set and taking your career to the next level by attending the Manifest Agility Boot Camp, you can find more information and the link to start the application process here.