Acing Your First Tech Job: Tips From Recruiters at JPMorgan Chase

Getting your foot in the door of the tech industry can be intimidating, especially if you’re starting out without any applicable professional experience. For those without any technical background, the task can feel insurmountable at times — but you’re not alone. Companies like JPMorgan Chase welcome and create opportunities for tech talent who come from nontraditional backgrounds to thrive regardless of their previous experience.

Chuck Xenakis and Jenna Grasley have been leading JPMorgan Chase’s efforts to find, analyze, and onboard junior technology talent; with over three decades of JPMorgan Chase experience between them, they have a comprehensive understanding of what the organization looks for when hiring new talent. They recently sat down with Alison Abbington, Industry Engagement Manager at 2U, Inc. for a virtual discussion about career opportunities and interview tips for candidates curious about landing a role with the company.

Keep reading to learn what they had to say about the hiring process at JPMorgan Chase, as well as a look into what it’s like to work for the company in a technical role.

Tips for Applying and Interviewing

Is there a specific place to find out which entry-level jobs are available?

It may sound simple, but Chuck advised interested candidates to browse the JPMorgan Chase virtual career center and filter through listings by location or job functions to see if you meet qualifications before applying. He also mentioned that he and Jenna often reach out to partners like Trilogy Education Services, a 2U, Inc. brand, through LinkedIn to uncover new potential hires for junior level talent, so connecting with them through the platform is a great way to get on the radar. The best part? Learners in Trilogy-powered boot camps receive these emails automatically throughout and after the course.

What positions are available to individuals interested in cybersecurity?

As a financial institution, cybersecurity is essential to success at JPMorgan Chase. The amount of data entrusted to the company — from social security numbers to bank account information — makes it extremely important to protect, resulting in a vast amount of open roles for cybersecurity professionals. “If you scanned every published book known to man, we hold more data than that,” Chuck explained. That’s a lot of data.

What’s more, the cybersecurity team responsible for protecting that sensitive information is eager to bring on junior talent and grow them within the organization. That said, aspiring software engineers, ethical hackers, penetration testers, and more should keep an eye on the JPMorgan Chase job boards.

What can applicants without a four-year degree do to stand out when applying?

If you haven’t applied for a job in a while, it may come as a surprise that JPMorgan Chase doesn’t select applicants based solely on their educational background or professional experience. For candidates who are applying from an unrelated industry, it’s especially important to highlight any technical training or certifications.

“My recommendation to you is, on your resume, make sure you put your training and/or certificates or achievements in a ‘Training and Certificates’ section,” explains Chuck. While it may be tempting to include those accolades more formally — like a degree program — Chuck also warns applicants not to misrepresent themselves. “At a company like JPMorgan Chase, we validate everything.”

At the end of the day, the more you can show prospective employers what you can do, the better — so don’t rely solely on your training as the only thing you need to do to get the job. Stand out from the crowd by doing extra work, publishing your work on GitHub, or working on a passion project. “Anything extra counts.”

What can candidates do to be prepared and not panic during whiteboard interviews?

“Apply for the right types of roles,” says Chuck. As a junior candidate, be realistic about the positions you’re considering and seek out roles that are applicable to your background. The people who are interviewing you will know that you’re applying for an entry-level position, so they won’t hold you to the same standards as someone applying for a senior role.

Chuck’s top tip for getting through the whiteboard interview was this: “Make sure you convey your thought process. Why are you coding the way you are? What are you thinking about as you write the code.” In technology, there’s never only one way to do things, so explaining your thinking can give the interviewer a better idea of your knowledge.

What happens if you don’t hear back after applying?

At a company like JPMorgan Chase, there is a lot of competition for opportunities, which results in a large number of rejected applicants annually. Unfortunately, for applicants new to tech, receiving an automated email can be frustrating and even discouraging. Chuck made a strong argument to keep going:

“Don’t stop. Just because one door closes doesn’t mean that there aren’t 50,000 other doors out there. How bad do you want it? The person who’s right behind you is ready too. Have perseverance, continue with the grit that got you through boot camp, and keep trying.”

One of the best ways to stay on top of your application and skills is to keep practicing, whether it’s a pet project or continuation course.

Life on the Job

At JPMorgan Chase, technology underpins nearly every aspect of business. In fact, the organization invests over $12 billion in tech annually and employs over 50,000 technologists worldwide to develop top products and unique business models. During the tech panel, Chuck and Jenna explained what it’s like to work in a technical role at the company.

What level of support do junior employees and fresh talent receive from coworkers?

Recruiters at JPMorgan Chase understand the commitment and sacrifice required to successfully complete a tech boot camp. When they bring on new hires who have completed these accelerated courses, they know they’re bringing on an individual who spent money to change their career and made it through a challenging experience to pursue their dream. “We know they won’t fail,” explains Chuck. To help make sure of that, junior talent is always placed on a team that can support them and help fill in areas that might be lacking.

Jenna added that managers and organization leaders are equipped to support new talent, including a technical buddy system and Tech for Social Good programs that provide additional volunteer opportunities for learning and engagement.

When something goes wrong technically, how is it handled?

It may seem that the responsibility falls to developers when technology doesn’t work as planned, but at JPMorgan Chase, that’s not the case. “Are you allowed to make mistakes? Take calculated risks on trying new things? The answer is an emphatic yes.”

The company may be well-known for developing top-quality software and services, but nothing goes into production unless it’s been thoroughly tested — meaning that it’s a team effort to problem solve and reach a solution together. In other words, creativity and even failure are expected from technical employees at JPMorgan Chase. As Chuck mentioned, “it’s the only way we’re going to continue to innovate.”

What do you love about the company?

At the end of the day, JPMorgan Chase is a people business. Chuck was emphatic in his praise for the company’s handling of the 2008 recession and other catastrophic events; through their support of the community and employees, they’ve built a culture that puts individuals first. “We get to do that because we’re so big.”

For Jenna, working for the organization allowed her to explore her passions more broadly and determine what she truly enjoys doing professionally. She took advantage of the company’s size and networked to learn about different areas of the bank so she can continue to grow personally and professionally.

Want to jump-start your own technical career? Columbia Engineering Boot Camps are here to help you get started on your educational journey into the tech industry. Explore entry-level positions and discover more about career opportunities with JPMorgan Chase on their website.

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