This is the curriculum for the 2019 Alpha Web Developer Bootcamp.

Negotiating a Salary

So you made it through your interview, and your prospective employer has brought up what your salary will be. Congratulations! Negotiating a salary can be a bit terrifying, though, so here are some tips to help you out.

LEARN academy grads working in San Diego typically make mid-$30k to $50k. If your technical skills are on the weaker side, you're interviewing for a job with tools or languages you haven't used before, and/or you don't have much professional experience, you'll probably make on the lower end of this spectrum; if you are very strong technically and have at least a few years of professional experience, you'll probably make on the higher end of this. You can use these numbers as a starting point, and even share them with prospective employers as appropriate.

But these numbers are not absolutes, by any means! Some students who were middle of the pack in their technical skills and with only a bit of professional experience have ended up on the high end of these figures because they really hit it off with a manager at a company. Other students who were very strong technically but had weaker interview skills have started out with salaries on the lower end of this range.

In the long run, though, your first salary really isn't that important. Within a year or two of working as a developer, you'll almost certainly make at least $20k more than wherever you start. The most important thing is to get a job, and if you have options, to take a job where you're more excited about the work you'll be doing.

Back to the salary negotiating. Your first salary might not be that important, but all else equal, it's worth your time to learn how to get a higher offer. In negotiation, you need to know who has more to lose. If you're charming and technically very strong, you have little to lose - you can walk away and probably get another offer somewhere else. If your interview skills aren't great and your technical skills are weaker, the employer has the upper hand.

When the employer has the upper hand, try to get more information from them. If they ask you for your desired salary, tell them "I haven't worked in this field before, so I'm not completely sure what to expect. What have you paid people in this position before?" Work that angle hard before putting any numbers out of your own. Then, feel free to share the salary ranges above.

If you have the upper hand, you might consider opening with a high salary requirement to set the expectation high. For example, you might say "I made $65k in my last job, so I'm looking for something in that range," and expect to settle somewhere around $60k. If you let them open the negotiation with an offer of $50k, you might have a hard time getting it above $55k. But make sure your expectations are realistic - you are coming in as an entry-level developer, and you will likely be an investment for anybody who hires you. If you have a lot of career experience, you very well may start out making less until you get at least a few months of experience working.

Most importantly, ask your teachers for help and guidance! Negotiating is tough, and it's even harder to do alone.

Elevator Pitch

What is it?

  • A succinct, compelling description of what you offer
  • Approximately 30 seconds to two minutes long.

The 15 Second Pitch

Hi, my name is ________ . I'm in the ________ field, and I'm looking to ________ .

Hi, my name is Chelsea Kaufman.  I'm in the tech education field, and I'm looking to make new connections in the community to help further the opportunities for our students...

The 2 Minute Pitch

Start with these questions...

  • Skills: What do you do well?
  • Confidence: What's your greatest strength in that area?
  • Goal: What would you like to do?
  • Motivation: What's your why?


  • Highlight some of your professional accomplishments such as awards, recognitions and certifications.
  • Take a look at your transferable skills for some of your previous work experiences and identify one or two in which you really excel
  • Focus on your essential skill set and contemplate what abilities have you continued to strengthen in every role?
  • Where do you get your information and news? Blogs, podcasts, RSS feed?

Words to start to use to describe yourself

  • Adept at...
  • Proficient in...
  • Accomplished at...
  • Prowess...
  • Dexterity...
  • Expertise in...
  • Savvy...
  • Passion for...


The opportunity to do ________ is what really drew you to your current role.
Hint: Look at job descriptions that really excite you and ask yourself why.

This is also a space for the interpersonal. Perhaps you are an amazing team player because you have a knack for seeing both sides of a an argument.
Check out this Forbes article on finding your workplace strength.
There are four key types: Envision, Design, Build & Operate. At the end of each type, there are outlined strengths.

Words to start to use to describe yourself

  • Have a knack for...
  • A talent for...
  • Effective...
  • Penchant for...


Try framing your aspirations like this:

  • Gain exposure or credibility in the industry
  • Hoping to find a role in...
  • Suggestions as to how I can...
  • Opportunities for me to develop...
  • Insight on how I can apply...


Your emotions support your decision-making abilities.
Focus on the intrinsic motivators that really keep you moving ahead.
Ask yourself:

  • Who do I want to help or inspire?
  • Who benefits from my work?
  • Why do I enjoy the work I am doing?
  • Or try these four questions from Forbes.

Words to start to use to describe yourself

  • On behalf of...
  • I owe it to...
  • I'm inspired by...
  • I want to inspire...

Building Your 2-Minute Talk

Structure your pitch like this...

Hi, my name is ________ . I'm in the ________ field, and I'm looking to ________

Then go into more detail and include your skills, confidence, goals & motivations.

Here's the example that Chelsea presented...

Hi, my name is Chelsea Kaufman.  
I'm the co-founder and CEO at LEARN academy.  
LEARN is a community of educators and developers dedicated to helping people transition their careers into the web development field.
I've been in the education space since I was a toddler when my mom opened her first of two non-profit schools.  
Because I grew up in such a great community, I found a passion in helping grow communities I moved into the non-profit space and helped to build programs and communities in the arts education field.  
When my husband, a web developer for many years, told me he wanted to open a school.  
I was ecstatic.  By meshing our skills together I knew we could build a wonderful community together.  
I was able to bring my passion for education and community building together into one job and build something from the ground up.  
We are constantly looking for ways to help the community grow and better fulfill the people within our community.


Things to Consider

At some point think about what you want from an internship.

  • What type of company do you want to intern for:
    • consultancy/freelancing vs. company
    • startup vs more established
    • small vs. big
  • What kind of work atmosphere are you looking for
    • work remotely (at LEARN) or work at an office
    • casual vs. formal
  • Work on front end or back end or both

Thinking about these things is important. While you are interning, you will want to be applying for other opportunities and aligning your personal interest, wants and needs with the companies you apply too.
In the long run, it will help with your work-life balance. When you get to the interview stage remember you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you.

Job Search

Places of look for work

After you have completed the your 16-week time with us, it is time to take that next step towards getting your first position as a web developer.
Hillary Whitmore, our Career Services Coordinator, will meet with you shortly after your internship has finished. She will be able to help you focus on the positions that will suit you best, as well as inform you of which companies are currently hiring. She will be in contact with you throughout the process of finding work.

Today's Tentative Schedule

9:15am - Circle

9:30am - Elevator Pitch Presentation followed by students to draft their own elevator pitch

12:00 noon - Lunch

1:00pm - Career Services Presentation followed by tasks

3:30pm Student Tech Talks

4.30pm - Wrap Up

5:00pm - Class Ends