For Katie Penton, an IDR account manager, most workdays begin at IDR’s office on Nashville’s southeast side. But one day in mid-October, Penton’s workday started a bit differently. Instead of walking into IDR’s office, Katie and her colleague Kara pulled up to a large office building and made their way to the third floor, to the classrooms of the Nashville Software School. Soon they were sitting in front of a group of students in a software development class. They had come to talk with the students about careers in IT, the staffing and recruiting field, and how organizations like IDR could help them succeed.
IDR’s partnership with the Nashville Software School began almost three years ago and, over time, has become an important part of IDR’s community outreach. Visits to the school generally happen a few times each year, typically toward the end of program sessions when students are nearing graduation. This timing allows students to ask questions about the current IT job market, in addition to learning about IDR and the important role recruiters play in matching top tech talent with great opportunities.
“Recruiting in the industry can be misunderstood,” said Penton. “Being able to go and answer questions gives [the students] an understanding of how the recruiting process works. We’re able to help them and give them clarity.”
Started in 2012 by a group of Nashville technologists, the Nashville Software School is a non-profit organization providing individuals with the training, mentorship, and the learning opportunities necessary to access careers in technology and software development. The school offers full- and part-time programs in Web Development, Analytics and Data Science, and Professional Development.
“NSS is a non-profit career accelerator for motivated adults looking to launch careers in technology,” said school founder John Wark. “It’s our job to open doors to tech careers for adults irrespective of their economic circumstances.”
Initially created to help address the shortage of skilled developers in the Nashville area, the school also strives to introduce more diverse talent into the field. According to Wark, 40 percent of NSS graduates have been members of under-represented groups. Penton and her IDR colleagues see this diversity each time they visit. As Penton explained, the classes she has spoken to have included everyone from recent high school grads, to early career professionals looking to learn new skills, to mid-career adults making a change.
This diversity also shows in Demo Day, the end-of-program showcase where students share the projects they’ve created as part of their course. Penton has looked at websites for craft beer, how to find travel deals, and what to see and do in Nashville.
“For me personally, [visiting the school] is just fun,” she said.
The students aren’t the only ones who benefit from the NSS’s partnership with IDR. Last year, several students interviewed for one of IDR’s local clients, and many of the students keep in touch with IDR through platforms like LinkedIn. Building these relationships in the IT community and networking is an important part of career success, points out Penton.
In addition to working with the students, IDR has also helped the school itself, providing feedback and suggestions on topics for forums and events the school hosts. These kinds of collaboration have helped build a strong partnership between the Nashville Software School and IDR that is set to continue.
Back in the October, sitting in front of a room of software development students learning .NET and C#, Penton answered questions from the students and program director. But she also kept the bigger picture in mind.
“It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “We never know who needs a job…”