General Assembly: Tech training company transforms thinkers into creators

By Grace Huseth

Ever thought about changing careers and embarking into the ever growing fields of technology, business and design?
General Assembly provides innovative training and helps individuals make strategic career connections in the in-demand fields of today’s rapidly changing technological economy. The company, which has 20 campuses worldwide, opened at Ponce City Market because of Atlanta’s reputation for having one of the most aggressive startup cultures in the country.

“Atlanta has seen a huge growth in terms of the startup scene, with the number of startup incubators and a lot more visibility into that world. It’s a nationwide trend, but it has been accelerated here in Atlanta in the course of the past five years,” said regional director Peter Franconi.

In addition to small startups, larger Atlanta companies are pushing for more tech savvy employees. Franconi said Atlanta’s Fortune 500 companies have not been historically tech driven, are going through a transformation to figure out how to stay relevant when it comes to technology. For instance, the Delta’s Fly Delta app provides quick access to boarding passes and Home Depot’s mobile app views store maps and checks inventory.

Students seek out General Assembly’s events, workshops and classes as a bridge to get jobs with top startups and companies. Some are free meetups, where General Assembly becomes a gathering space for industry leaders to exchange ideas, while complete courses can change a student’s career path entirely.

General Assembly prepares classes in technology and design by consulting existing hiring partners to make sure they are teaching are the skills companies are seeking. Franconi said that the classes are then structured with the end objective in mind and then build a streamlined curriculum that will help students meet goals much more quickly. The hands-on approach is based on the philosophy, “I as the instructor do, we as the class do, and then you as the individual do.”

Full time programs at General Assembly are an investment in education. A 10 week-course runs just under $14,000, but includes special attention to job placement upon graduation. General Assembly is the first company of its kind to go to a Big Four accounting firm and have results independently audited and verified. The organization has a 99 percent placement rate within 180 days of graduation. Here in Atlanta, they have seen more accelerated results with a 90 percent placement rate within 120 days.

Corey Landers, a User Experience Design student, is making a career change from an advertising brand strategist to UX designer. After attending an info session at General Assembly, he found the UXD course to be much more fitting for his goals than getting a master’s degree from Georgia Tech. He is now applying his advertising background to analyzing business goals from a user’s perspective-without having to learn as much coding as he originally thought.

“UX is about research and being strategic with prioritizing different features. When building an app, the first thing of doing is code and development, but it is more important to first consider how it will be user friendly,” Landers said.
Free information sessions and workshops at General Assembly are the best way to get a feel for the kind of opportunities the company offers.

For more information, visit generalassemb.ly.

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