MAXX Potential

Mohamad Badawa

By MAXX Potential

Mohamad worked as an Apprentice for less than a year, gaining valuable on-the-job tech experience before he exited MAXX Potential to work at Old Dominion Freight Line as a Front-End Developer.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

College Student / Retail

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

– Develop and enhance new features and components based on business requirements.

– Fix bugs and troubleshoot.

– Review code and merge requests.

– Communicate with BAs to make sure all the business requirements are met.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

Working in a field that I love with amazing co-workers!

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

– YouTube channels like Web Dev Simplified and Udemy classes.

– Podcasts while driving to keep up with the latest industry news and Cargo Shorts, which is a company-specific podcast.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

1. Enthusiasm and curiosity can get you pretty far in this field!

2. Learning a new set of skills like troubleshooting and using all the tools you have the right way.

3. Ask questions and use all the resources you have, such as documentation.

4. Learn more about the company you are working for and how they do things, such as their business model.

5. Treat the project you are working on as one of your own, try to write the best code you can, and make sure everything is working fine.

 

Interested in becoming or working with a MAXX Apprentice? Attend Career Lab or explore MAXX Business Solutions!

MORE POSTS

Mohamad Badawa

By MAXX Potential

Mohamad worked as an Apprentice for less than a year, gaining valuable on-the-job tech experience before he exited MAXX Potential to work at Old Dominion Freight Line as a Front-End Developer.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

College Student / Retail

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

– Develop and enhance new features and components based on business requirements.

– Fix bugs and troubleshoot.

– Review code and merge requests.

– Communicate with BAs to make sure all the business requirements are met.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

Working in a field that I love with amazing co-workers!

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

– YouTube channels like Web Dev Simplified and Udemy classes.

– Podcasts while driving to keep up with the latest industry news and Cargo Shorts, which is a company-specific podcast.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

1. Enthusiasm and curiosity can get you pretty far in this field!

2. Learning a new set of skills like troubleshooting and using all the tools you have the right way.

3. Ask questions and use all the resources you have, such as documentation.

4. Learn more about the company you are working for and how they do things, such as their business model.

5. Treat the project you are working on as one of your own, try to write the best code you can, and make sure everything is working fine.

 

Interested in becoming or working with a MAXX Apprentice? Attend Career Lab or explore MAXX Business Solutions!

5 Timeless Talents for a Shifting Tech Landscape

By MAXX Potential

A shifting tech landscape demands that technologists center themselves in strong mental models while growing their timeless talents to ensure their career longevity. One of the constants in technology is change. 

This resiliency in thinking and skills will help technologists to excel in their tech careers no matter how the tech industry changes, grows, or pivots.

How Mental Models Make You A Stronger Thinker

“For me, it’s like, how do you picture and put things in your brain?” Rahim Islam, MAXX Potential Solution Delivery Manager, shared. “That’s how I think of mental models.”

Farnham Street explains that, “A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. We cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks.”

What we can learn from this is that as we each continue in our careers we can build on our mental models for analyzing problems.

first principles image

A Popular Mental Model: The Concept of First Principles

According to Farnham Street, First Principles is one of the core mental models because, “First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibility.”

“It really comes from philosophy.” John Dlugokecki, MAXX Potential Partner, shared. “So breaking things down into indivisible axioms is the very academic explanation, and then using those axioms to create foundational truths for building your solution.”

This way of thinking is not how many adults choose to think. In fact, most people lean into the established “this is how it’s always been done.”

Believe it or not, the humans that think best in the concept of first principles are children.

Children rely on the question “why” to understand the world around them. Their constant litany of “why” often annoys their parents, babysitters, teachers, and nearby adults. Yet, this technique of exploring the world helps children make connections.

Bringing the concept of “why” into the boardroom can frustrate coworkers, and it can get to the root of a problem. When a team of people are willing to follow the “why” to its root, great things happen.

5 Timeless Talents for a Shifting Tech Landscape

Beyond mental models, we’ve determined five timeless talents to help technologists in an ever changing tech industry. We believe that strengthening the following talents can help you ride the changes in tech: communication, adaptability, problem solving, lifelong learning, and collaboration.

Communication

Being able to explain an idea through words, whether spoken or written, is an essential skill for technologists who plan to make tech their long-time career. The key component clarifies confusing information and streamlines project collaboration.

Adaptability

Technology is known for its rapid change, and with that knowledge, technologists must exercise their adaptability. How quickly do you pivot to new ideas? Are you willing to try different styles and systems of doing things? What do you do to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment?

“As long as you’re comfortable being in a state of not having everything mastered and you’re comfortable with that, you tend to open up a lot more to learning more, to feedback, to new ideas.” Rahim observed.

Problem Solving

When it comes to problem solving, John pointed out that, “Using the right tool for the right job may sometimes mean using older, more established tools. If you’re just upgrading or replacing for the sake of replacing, that’s not necessarily good problem solving.”

Lifelong Learning

Part of technology is constantly learning new ideas, systems, and possibilities. The more tools you understand and are exposed to, the better for knowing what tool works best in different situations. When you’re a technologist, you’re committing to a career filled with unending learning.

Collaboration

Engineers and technologists need to consider the people aspect of their projects and solutions. When you’re working with a team or a client, technologists prioritize how the end users will interact with the final product. The newest trends and technologies are exciting, but if no one can use it, what’s the point?

Partner with MAXX to invest in the future

Are you ready to work with eager and talented MAXX Apprentices who exhibit these five timeless talents? Partner with MAXX Potential today at MaxxPotential.com/Business-Solutions.

MORE POSTS

5 Timeless Talents for a Shifting Tech Landscape

By MAXX Potential

A shifting tech landscape demands that technologists center themselves in strong mental models while growing their timeless talents to ensure their career longevity. One of the constants in technology is change. 

This resiliency in thinking and skills will help technologists to excel in their tech careers no matter how the tech industry changes, grows, or pivots.

How Mental Models Make You A Stronger Thinker

“For me, it’s like, how do you picture and put things in your brain?” Rahim Islam, MAXX Potential Solution Delivery Manager, shared. “That’s how I think of mental models.”

Farnham Street explains that, “A mental model is simply a representation of how something works. We cannot keep all of the details of the world in our brains, so we use models to simplify the complex into understandable and organizable chunks.”

What we can learn from this is that as we each continue in our careers we can build on our mental models for analyzing problems.

first principles image

A Popular Mental Model: The Concept of First Principles

According to Farnham Street, First Principles is one of the core mental models because, “First-principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated problems and unleash creative possibility.”

“It really comes from philosophy.” John Dlugokecki, MAXX Potential Partner, shared. “So breaking things down into indivisible axioms is the very academic explanation, and then using those axioms to create foundational truths for building your solution.”

This way of thinking is not how many adults choose to think. In fact, most people lean into the established “this is how it’s always been done.”

Believe it or not, the humans that think best in the concept of first principles are children.

Children rely on the question “why” to understand the world around them. Their constant litany of “why” often annoys their parents, babysitters, teachers, and nearby adults. Yet, this technique of exploring the world helps children make connections.

Bringing the concept of “why” into the boardroom can frustrate coworkers, and it can get to the root of a problem. When a team of people are willing to follow the “why” to its root, great things happen.

5 Timeless Talents for a Shifting Tech Landscape

Beyond mental models, we’ve determined five timeless talents to help technologists in an ever changing tech industry. We believe that strengthening the following talents can help you ride the changes in tech: communication, adaptability, problem solving, lifelong learning, and collaboration.

Communication

Being able to explain an idea through words, whether spoken or written, is an essential skill for technologists who plan to make tech their long-time career. The key component clarifies confusing information and streamlines project collaboration.

Adaptability

Technology is known for its rapid change, and with that knowledge, technologists must exercise their adaptability. How quickly do you pivot to new ideas? Are you willing to try different styles and systems of doing things? What do you do to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment?

“As long as you’re comfortable being in a state of not having everything mastered and you’re comfortable with that, you tend to open up a lot more to learning more, to feedback, to new ideas.” Rahim observed.

Problem Solving

When it comes to problem solving, John pointed out that, “Using the right tool for the right job may sometimes mean using older, more established tools. If you’re just upgrading or replacing for the sake of replacing, that’s not necessarily good problem solving.”

Lifelong Learning

Part of technology is constantly learning new ideas, systems, and possibilities. The more tools you understand and are exposed to, the better for knowing what tool works best in different situations. When you’re a technologist, you’re committing to a career filled with unending learning.

Collaboration

Engineers and technologists need to consider the people aspect of their projects and solutions. When you’re working with a team or a client, technologists prioritize how the end users will interact with the final product. The newest trends and technologies are exciting, but if no one can use it, what’s the point?

Partner with MAXX to invest in the future

Are you ready to work with eager and talented MAXX Apprentices who exhibit these five timeless talents? Partner with MAXX Potential today at MaxxPotential.com/Business-Solutions.

The First 48 Hours of OpenAI’s API: An Interview with Tucker Mahan

By MAXX Potential

“There’s been a lot of comparisons of this tech to some of the bigger disruptors, such as the internet, Google search, and cloud computing.” Tucker Mahan, MAXX Potential Talent Director, is talking about ChatGPT and the OpenAI API. “There’s a lot of interesting dialogue happening – ethics, opinions, security, value versus investment, and predictions.”

As ChatGPT remains the main topic of conversation at board tables and in break rooms, it’s time to be playing with the possibilities, pushing limitations, and exercising curiosity. 

And that’s exactly what Tucker’s been doing. In the first 48 hours after the release, Tucker integrated the new model endpoints into his ongoing project.

How OpenAI API Integration Can Take Your Project to the Next Level

Hour 1: Exploring the Potential of OpenAI GPT-3.5-Turbo and Whisper APIs

With the release of the Whisper API, Tucker envisioned being able to upgrade his custom-built assistant, Dumbledore, to use their transcriptions and translations endpoints to improve the Speech-to-Text speed, add a Spanish practice bot, and implement a wake word solution.

“The Whisper API was super great.” Tucker explained that he’d worked with the open source project before the API was released, and he had considered building something that would do the job for his Dumbledore project. In the end, he’d opted to use an alternative Speech-to-Text solution up until the Whisper API released. “Being able to access their API to do Whisper translations in real time was super exciting.”

He shared his process for a good working session when he wants to be in the zone. “I just sit down. I put my headphones on. I forget to turn the music on, and I start chugging away.” 

He focused on Dumbledore for hours, coding several new features to make the assistant do what he wanted. It wasn’t until his wife showed up at his desk with a plate of Margherita pizza around 8:30 pm that he realized he’d forgotten to eat.

Hours 2-5: How ChatGPT Speeds Up Project Development

Throughout the entire project, Tucker kept ChatGPT open on part of his screen to write basic code, trouble shoot, and provide insight as needed. The tool proved its worth. Tucker reported, “ChatGPT helped me debug, frame, and structure a lot of the improved Dumbledore project.”

For Tucker, the idea is to use ChatGPT to speed up his process.

“So when I’m writing a lot of boilerplate, simple logic stuff, Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, I’m using it for that. It does get things wrong.” Tucker explains. “I adjust variables and make adjustments where I need to.”

But there’s a key to getting stronger and better code from ChatGPT. Tucker shared, “If I do a good job of feeding it parts of my code up front, or which libraries I’m using, it starts using the variable names and libraries I’ve already selected so that its output is a lot more custom to what you’re doing.”

Hour 6: Testing the Limits of AI Conversation

With ChatGPT by his side, Tucker created Dumbledore 3.5. His new iteration incorporated the Whisper API and GPT-3.5-Turbo models to enhance more in-depth conversation. Around midnight, Tucker tested Dumbledore 3.5.

“Hey, Dumbledore.” Tucker spoke the wake words.
“With whom would you like to speak?” His computer asked.
“Abuelo,” Tucker replied.
“Hola, ¿qué pasa?” was the immediate response from the AI assistant.

Tucker programmed Dumbledore 3.5 to have three different versions of his assistant. For basic functionality, Tucker can reply, “ChatGPT.” If Tucker responds with “Dumbledore,” he’ll be greeted by a voice that sounds uncannily like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movie series, and if he responds with “Abuelo,” Dumbledore speaks in Spanish.

“I’m constantly working on my Spanish skills. My wife is fluent in Spanish and our son will be bilingual, so I want to make sure that I can keep up with them.” Tucker explains why his personal assistant is fluent in Spanish and English. “Having the ability to talk to a computer that will not judge me when I mispronounce things is front and center for me. This was possible because of the Whisper API and GPT 3.5.”

GPT-4 Is Here – What Are Your Thoughts?

“This is technology worth learning,” Tucker shared. “I believe that it has so many potential applications and will continue evolving rapidly, likely getting integrated into so many of the tools we already use. I tuned into the GPT-4 developer preview with 100k+ others, and the improvements with that model are great to see. My favorite moment was seeing GPT-4 summarize a blog post using only the letter Q and GPT-4 as a proper noun, ‘GPT-4 quintessentially quickens quality quantifications, quelling questionable quandaries.’”

ChatGPT is already being used by many, and Tucker suggests finding out if people on your teams are using the tool. “Odds are there’s at least a couple on your teams who are.”

“Education and training with this tech is a good next step. I think a lot of creative efforts are necessary to discover how to best utilize this tech, because there are so many time and cost savings involved if you do this well. It has certainly increased my productivity.”

At MAXX Potential, we encourage curiosity, initiative, and exploration. If you’re interested in talking with MAXX about how AI can help your company reach its goals, contact us!

MORE POSTS

The First 48 Hours of OpenAI’s API: An Interview with Tucker Mahan

By MAXX Potential

“There’s been a lot of comparisons of this tech to some of the bigger disruptors, such as the internet, Google search, and cloud computing.” Tucker Mahan, MAXX Potential Talent Director, is talking about ChatGPT and the OpenAI API. “There’s a lot of interesting dialogue happening – ethics, opinions, security, value versus investment, and predictions.”

As ChatGPT remains the main topic of conversation at board tables and in break rooms, it’s time to be playing with the possibilities, pushing limitations, and exercising curiosity. 

And that’s exactly what Tucker’s been doing. In the first 48 hours after the release, Tucker integrated the new model endpoints into his ongoing project.

How OpenAI API Integration Can Take Your Project to the Next Level

Hour 1: Exploring the Potential of OpenAI GPT-3.5-Turbo and Whisper APIs

With the release of the Whisper API, Tucker envisioned being able to upgrade his custom-built assistant, Dumbledore, to use their transcriptions and translations endpoints to improve the Speech-to-Text speed, add a Spanish practice bot, and implement a wake word solution.

“The Whisper API was super great.” Tucker explained that he’d worked with the open source project before the API was released, and he had considered building something that would do the job for his Dumbledore project. In the end, he’d opted to use an alternative Speech-to-Text solution up until the Whisper API released. “Being able to access their API to do Whisper translations in real time was super exciting.”

He shared his process for a good working session when he wants to be in the zone. “I just sit down. I put my headphones on. I forget to turn the music on, and I start chugging away.” 

He focused on Dumbledore for hours, coding several new features to make the assistant do what he wanted. It wasn’t until his wife showed up at his desk with a plate of Margherita pizza around 8:30 pm that he realized he’d forgotten to eat.

Hours 2-5: How ChatGPT Speeds Up Project Development

Throughout the entire project, Tucker kept ChatGPT open on part of his screen to write basic code, trouble shoot, and provide insight as needed. The tool proved its worth. Tucker reported, “ChatGPT helped me debug, frame, and structure a lot of the improved Dumbledore project.”

For Tucker, the idea is to use ChatGPT to speed up his process.

“So when I’m writing a lot of boilerplate, simple logic stuff, Python, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, I’m using it for that. It does get things wrong.” Tucker explains. “I adjust variables and make adjustments where I need to.”

But there’s a key to getting stronger and better code from ChatGPT. Tucker shared, “If I do a good job of feeding it parts of my code up front, or which libraries I’m using, it starts using the variable names and libraries I’ve already selected so that its output is a lot more custom to what you’re doing.”

Hour 6: Testing the Limits of AI Conversation

With ChatGPT by his side, Tucker created Dumbledore 3.5. His new iteration incorporated the Whisper API and GPT-3.5-Turbo models to enhance more in-depth conversation. Around midnight, Tucker tested Dumbledore 3.5.

“Hey, Dumbledore.” Tucker spoke the wake words.
“With whom would you like to speak?” His computer asked.
“Abuelo,” Tucker replied.
“Hola, ¿qué pasa?” was the immediate response from the AI assistant.

Tucker programmed Dumbledore 3.5 to have three different versions of his assistant. For basic functionality, Tucker can reply, “ChatGPT.” If Tucker responds with “Dumbledore,” he’ll be greeted by a voice that sounds uncannily like Dumbledore from the Harry Potter movie series, and if he responds with “Abuelo,” Dumbledore speaks in Spanish.

“I’m constantly working on my Spanish skills. My wife is fluent in Spanish and our son will be bilingual, so I want to make sure that I can keep up with them.” Tucker explains why his personal assistant is fluent in Spanish and English. “Having the ability to talk to a computer that will not judge me when I mispronounce things is front and center for me. This was possible because of the Whisper API and GPT 3.5.”

GPT-4 Is Here – What Are Your Thoughts?

“This is technology worth learning,” Tucker shared. “I believe that it has so many potential applications and will continue evolving rapidly, likely getting integrated into so many of the tools we already use. I tuned into the GPT-4 developer preview with 100k+ others, and the improvements with that model are great to see. My favorite moment was seeing GPT-4 summarize a blog post using only the letter Q and GPT-4 as a proper noun, ‘GPT-4 quintessentially quickens quality quantifications, quelling questionable quandaries.’”

ChatGPT is already being used by many, and Tucker suggests finding out if people on your teams are using the tool. “Odds are there’s at least a couple on your teams who are.”

“Education and training with this tech is a good next step. I think a lot of creative efforts are necessary to discover how to best utilize this tech, because there are so many time and cost savings involved if you do this well. It has certainly increased my productivity.”

At MAXX Potential, we encourage curiosity, initiative, and exploration. If you’re interested in talking with MAXX about how AI can help your company reach its goals, contact us!

Autumn Davis

By MAXX Potential

Autumn Davis

Autumn worked as an Apprentice for over a year, gaining valuable on-the-job tech experience before she exited MAXX Potential to work at Spring Oaks Capital, LLC.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

Before MAXX, I was working as a Vaccine Scientist here in Richmond. I did like my job, but I knew it wasn’t my calling. During my time as a Vaccine Scientist, I was a part of a team that worked a lot with SQL to query our database, as well as Python and R Studio. I dabbled with various front-end languages in my free time and really wanted to do more; I was super blessed to have a supervisor that allowed me to expand my knowledge during down time at work.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

At Spring Oaks, there was an initiative to give our operations team more ownership over certain tasks. My supervisor and the rest of the team thought the best way to do that was with an internal control panel. With the help of an amazing team, we got our control panel Heartwood up and running within about 6 months! I worked on the Front End using React and CSS and learned SO much within such a short period of time. It was an awesome and challenging experience! Now, I’m responsible for implementing new features into Heartwood and assisting with our landing page and payment portal.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

My supportive team! I have never been around an environment that is so patient and that fosters learning and growth (besides MAXX of course!). Here, there is so much growth, and the learning never stops. They really are great people at Spring Oaks, and I am truly grateful to MAXX for getting me here.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

I’m definitely a visual learner. I love watching YouTube videos and seeing how other people approach developing. I also try to attend as many programming themed Meetups as I can. Conferences are also a great place to get new information.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

Write down everything that you can. A piece of paper really helps keep track of your thoughts when you’re planning or troubleshooting. The website Notion is a life saver for organizing thoughts and notes. ChatGPT is also a great resource when it’s late at night and you don’t want to bother anyone. Also, be really patient with yourself; this is not the easiest field and the learning process takes time. Try to make learning something that you look forward to instead of dread.

Interested in becoming or working with a MAXX Apprentice? Attend Career Lab or explore MAXX Business Solutions!

MORE POSTS

Autumn Davis

By MAXX Potential

Autumn Davis

Autumn worked as an Apprentice for over a year, gaining valuable on-the-job tech experience before she exited MAXX Potential to work at Spring Oaks Capital, LLC.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

Before MAXX, I was working as a Vaccine Scientist here in Richmond. I did like my job, but I knew it wasn’t my calling. During my time as a Vaccine Scientist, I was a part of a team that worked a lot with SQL to query our database, as well as Python and R Studio. I dabbled with various front-end languages in my free time and really wanted to do more; I was super blessed to have a supervisor that allowed me to expand my knowledge during down time at work.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

At Spring Oaks, there was an initiative to give our operations team more ownership over certain tasks. My supervisor and the rest of the team thought the best way to do that was with an internal control panel. With the help of an amazing team, we got our control panel Heartwood up and running within about 6 months! I worked on the Front End using React and CSS and learned SO much within such a short period of time. It was an awesome and challenging experience! Now, I’m responsible for implementing new features into Heartwood and assisting with our landing page and payment portal.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

My supportive team! I have never been around an environment that is so patient and that fosters learning and growth (besides MAXX of course!). Here, there is so much growth, and the learning never stops. They really are great people at Spring Oaks, and I am truly grateful to MAXX for getting me here.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

I’m definitely a visual learner. I love watching YouTube videos and seeing how other people approach developing. I also try to attend as many programming themed Meetups as I can. Conferences are also a great place to get new information.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

Write down everything that you can. A piece of paper really helps keep track of your thoughts when you’re planning or troubleshooting. The website Notion is a life saver for organizing thoughts and notes. ChatGPT is also a great resource when it’s late at night and you don’t want to bother anyone. Also, be really patient with yourself; this is not the easiest field and the learning process takes time. Try to make learning something that you look forward to instead of dread.

Interested in becoming or working with a MAXX Apprentice? Attend Career Lab or explore MAXX Business Solutions!

''Consistency and endurance pays off in the end.'' - Words from Alum, Ali Tahir

Ali Tahir

Alumni Success Story: Ali Tahir

 

Ali worked as an Apprentice for over six months, gaining valuable on-the-job tech experience before he exited MAXX Potential to work at General Electric Corporation.

What were you doing before MAXX Potential? What drew you to pursue a career in technology?

Before MAXX, I was an event manager and the owner/operator of a catering solutions company I started as an undergraduate student while studying experimental psychology with a focus on behavior research and stats analysis. 

What drew me into technology was an opportunity to revisit some passions I had since grade school, specifically building computers, understanding technology, and developing my casual programming hobbies into a full-time career. 

I completed a software engineering bootcamp in April 2021, and in October 2021, I was hired by MAXX Potential.

Can you talk about what you’re currently working on? What are some of your job responsibilities?

When MAXX placed me at General Electric Corporation (GE) in December 2021, my team was in the beginning of the SDLC, planning a stack change of 14 APIs from their Java code to NodeJS. 

Our goal was to rewrite the APIs, using best practices where possible and trying to replicate existing end user behavior. I was responsible for rewriting some of the smaller APIs by separating functionality into modular parts (controllers, services, servers, routers, etc), creating a Docker image of the projects for deployment, setting up our CI/CD pipelines, and testing. 

My recent responsibilities have included setting up mutual TLS between our applications and external sources using Envoy service proxy.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your current role?

I am fortunate to work with experienced software developers, and I find it very rewarding to work together towards a common goal. That’s how I like to bring value to my team. 

It feels good to assist my teammates with tasks, and on some occasions, teach them about technology and concepts I worked on while rewriting an API or setting up the security infrastructure of our pipelines.

How do you keep your skills up to date? What’s the best way to learn new concepts, technologies, programming languages, etc.?

GE sets bi-annual performance goals that help me keep my skills up to date. I set goals with realistic markers to keep me motivated to stay up to speed. For me, the best way to learn new technology and languages is to start building something with it. 

In some respect, you have to dive right in because it’s only when you approach it hands-on that you get a sense of how these things work, and tutorials and classes can only take you so far. They’re certainly helpful, but the best thing to do is to make something with the technology you’re interested in.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone early in their IT career or looking to get their start?

Consistency and endurance pays off in the end. Stick with it. From the early days of the pandemic till I got hired at MAXX, there were plenty of moments where I felt like throwing in the towel because the material seemed too complicated to learn, or job hunting was incredibly demoralizing. 

Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and even now at my job, there are still days where trying to figure out how things work at GE makes me feel like a “puny hu-mon.” 

If you’re looking to get your start, remember to be kind to yourself and get comfortable with being in an “unknown space” a lot of the time. Building that muscle will help you endure.

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Customer Referrals

Customer Referrals Know a company interested in IT project assistance? Know a company interested in IT project assistance? As you know, here at MAXX Potential,

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Building vs. Buying Talent: Which is right for you?

By The Team at MAXX

Many IT executives are routinely faced with decisions on whether to build vs. buy when it comes to critical business applications (There’s a great post on that topic here), but how can you apply this framework to your talent strategy? Should you build or buy the necessary talent to grow your team? Our take: as with enterprise software, a winning approach involves applying a strategic framework and the capacity to do both.

Is there anything more strategic than your culture and talent strategy?

It makes sense to buy talent, and by that, we mean paying market premiums for experienced professionals, when the role requires advanced skills such as prior leadership experience, industry knowledge, and a deep technical track record. When a candidate has amassed a resume of skills and experience, your investment decision is based on how they can integrate into your organization, and the immediate value they can add in terms of increased revenue or implementing cost-savings strategies.

For entry-level positions, however, turnover should be higher if you are finding capable and driven employees, and the selection process is less straightforward. You are looking for motivated individuals with the ability to become that senior professional one day. Integrating a build approach into your talent strategy is a long-term investment that will set your organization up for success and pay off well into the future.

The Unique Challenges of Entry-level Roles

Buying talent for entry-level roles can seem like a faster option initially, but it becomes more costly when you have to do it over and over again (as you should). On the surface these roles may seem less strategic, and can also consume a disproportionate amount of training time and recruiting expense to keep them staffed. Downtime for even the most junior roles is costly and presents an operational risk.

  1. Hiring
    Entry-level candidates are lacking the years of experience that are sought after for more senior roles. This makes a traditional resumé the least valuable tool in making a selection. At this stage you are looking for two things: value-alignment and aptitude. These are hard to measure, and the cost of a mistake at this stage is high.
  2. Developing
    Mentoring entry-level talent takes time and attention away from experienced employees who are already at capacity. Many organizations also lack the capacity and budget to build a custom training program that includes dedicated full-time staff who are skilled, not only in their technical craft, but in the art of mentoring.
  3. Retaining
    High-potential employees are seekers of continuous growth and learning opportunities. Building a structured process for upskilling requires far more than purchasing a library of self-study training material (Don’t we have the Internet for that?). Most savvy leaders know that investing in their team creates a culture of continuous learning and growth that people will stick around for.

MAXX Potential was built by industry leaders who experienced these challenges first-hand and created a solution. Organizations have a need to invest in entry-level recruiting in order to grow their teams without taking away from other strategic imperatives. MAXX has cultivated a strong pipeline along with a supporting infrastructure specific to entry-level enterprise technology roles. We seek out people who have the potential and desire to break into the technology industry, and work with them to develop the skills needed to thrive in your organization. Our goal is to fill entry-level technology roles with people who are worth investing in and have the capability to contribute to your organization in a way that is meaningful starting day one.

Let Us Take these Entry-level Challenges Off Your Plate

While we aren’t a fit for ALL of your talent needs, what we do at MAXX Potential, we do really well. As a partner, we offer effective solutions for filling entry-level technology roles with the least amount of risk and disruption.

With guaranteed backfill of vacated roles, customized on-the-job training, ongoing mentor support and zero conversion fees to hire at any time, MAXX Potential would be an impactful addition to your overall talent strategy. Contact us today.

Apprenticeships & Internships

Is there a difference?

By Kim Mahan

While most educators and workforce development professionals are very familiar with these terms, working in the entry-level talent development space, we often hear them used interchangeably by industry professionals, parents, and students. So what exactly is the difference between an internship and an apprenticeship? The more relevant follow-up question is, “If I’m trying to break into the industry, which should I choose?”

First, the difference:

The easiest way to think about it is that internships are typically short-term work engagements designed to enhance an academic learning experience. They can be paid or unpaid, and are often structured as a full-time summer job, or part-time semester-long experience. The student’s primary focus is on their education, which is enhanced by supplemental exposure to actual work environments and industry professionals. Basically, school comes first, supplemented by work experience to apply their classroom knowledge learned in a professional environment.

Apprenticeships, on the other hand, are a very different approach toward embarking upon a new career and are often the preferred pathway for skilled trades. In an apprenticeship, the focus is on gaining work experience first, with close supervision and guidance by a more experienced professional in addition to supplemental coursework on the side.

Even though IT Professionals spend a good portion of their time at a keyboard, most skilled technologists view themselves as craftspeople and the progression of skill development more closely resembles that of a skilled trade than other traditional “knowledge workers.” Based on our experience, skills are best developed by working on actual problems where there isn’t an answer key in the back of the book, or “Time in code.” By starting off in a support role, for example, an Apprentice is exposed to multiple applications written by more experienced developers. They get to see how a more experienced developer thought about the problem, and how systems fit together.

Challenges:

The challenges with internships are that there just aren’t enough to go around. Every student would benefit from gaining hands-on work experience to help their resumé stand out and further their career. Unfortunately, given the talent shortage, there are not enough employers with readily available professionals to help mentor and guide beginners.

As far as apprenticeships go, they are not all created equal, and you should shop around. The apprenticeship model has existed for centuries, and in some cases has gotten a bad reputation. Even today there are apprenticeship programs that require extensive time commitments or income share agreements that affect the short-term earning potential of an Apprentice.

So which approach is best for me?

The short answer is, it depends. It depends on where you are at in life, your financial situation, and your learning style. These past two years have made it clear that it’s essential to take control of your journey to maximize your potential both professionally and personally. At the end of the day, success in any field requires both knowledge AND skill. It really boils down to the order in which you acquire them, and what you can afford. If you are eligible for grants, or the ability to pay, a higher education experience can add valuable credentials to your resumé. If you’re thinking about signing loan papers, however, an apprenticeship is likely to produce far greater long-term economic outcomes. Many employers offer tuition reimbursement programs should you decide to pursue a degree later. Most hiring managers in the technology field are looking for examples of your work more than anything.

Take The Next Step With MAXX Potential!

At MAXX we have invested in building out equitable pathways for both seeking a technology internship experience, and a proven paid apprenticeship program for full-time career-seekers.

If IT is your passion and you are ready to jumpstart your career, MAXX Potential is ready to give you that boost. Our growing alumni network has given us the opportunity to mentor some of the nation’s best technologists, who are working at some of the world’s best companies.

For those looking to learn more about the real-world experience that can be gained from a MAXX Potential Apprenticeship, join our next Career Lab!