LaunchCode Partnership Produces Techies for Express Scripts
October 19, 2017 | Express Scripts
Earlier this year, leaders on our technology teams recognized an immediate hiring need at our St. Louis headquarters: Pega developers. But the problem was programmers proficient in that platform were in short supply. Fortunately, St. Louis is the headquarters of LaunchCode, an innovative nonprofit that provides learning resources and job opportunities to students in the technology field at zero charge.
LaunchCode worked quickly to develop a joint program with us and immediately identified 40 of the best Java programmers who had recently graduated from one of their basic coding classes. Leaders on our tech team evaluated all 40 candidates and then selected 24 to begin LaunchCode’s Pega training.
To help with these candidates’ training, LaunchCode pulled in Pegasystems Inc., which sent instructors to St. Louis for an eight-day Pega training session. During this time, LaunchCode also taught the students strategies to help them in the corporate world, providing insights on topics such as email best practices, phone conferences and even how to work on two monitors instead of a laptop screen.
Of the 24 students selected to take the Pega training, twenty-three completed the course, and were hired onto our technology teams as paid apprentices. During this time, each apprentice was paired with a programming partner to help them navigate their day-to-day work life and a buddy to answer basic questions, as simple as how to find the company gym. All but two were offered full-time jobs when their 90-day apprenticeships ended in July.
The success of the St. Louis program has led us to expand our partnership with LaunchCode to our New Jersey office, where 10 candidates recently completed LaunchCode’s Pega training and 17 learned to use COBOL. All 27 of these candidates began their 90-day paid apprenticeships in early August at the Franklin Lakes, NJ office.
To learn more about our partnership with LaunchCode and hear from one of the apprentices we hired on full-time, click here!
« A Look Inside my Internship on the Enterprise Data Science Team| 3 Takeaways From My First Grace Hopper Experience »
A Look Inside my Internship on the Enterprise Data Science Team
October 18, 2017 | Express Scripts
When it comes to job searching, job descriptions don’t always paint a complete picture of what a role entails or a specific department does. And internship job descriptions are no different. That’s why we took the time to catch up with some of our summer interns across the organization to give job seekers a better idea of what it’s like to work here. Recently we sat down with Wendy, a data scientist intern on the Enterprise Data Science team under Clinical Research and New Solutions, to find out more about her role.
Here’s what Wendy had to say:
What university do you attend?
I am currently pursuing my doctoral degree in chemistry at St. Louis University (SLU). I chose to attend SLU because of the advanced programs they offer. Currently, they are expanding to add more faculty, staff and facilities – especially in their science department. Right now I am focused on graduating in May, 2018 and continuing my journey as a data scientist.
Why did you choose to go into the chemistry field if your ultimate goal is to become a data scientist?
After doing some research, I realized that data scientists must have a diverse background in order to be successful. I decided to take an extra class on statistics. With this knowledge, I have improved my skills and can apply them to the business field. Predicting the future is a big part of a data scientist’s job and is quickly becoming the next big thing. I wanted to go into this field because it’s promising and data-driven research interests me.
Why did you choose to intern at Express Scripts?
In the data scientist world, healthcare is a topic that comes up frequently. In the fall, I visited the Express Scripts booth at SLU’s career fair, which gave me the opportunity to speak with employees. I was very excited about the opportunity to combine my passion for pharmaceuticals and chemistry.
What role do you play on your team?
I am an intern on the Enterprise Data Science team. A big part of my job is using cutting edge methods and software to help my team develop data acquisition pipelines and predictive models. My department works to use statistical methods and innovative technologies to solve business problems.
What opportunities have you enjoyed as an Express Scripts intern so far?
I love all of the learning opportunities we are given. I especially enjoy hearing from company leaders about their professional experiences during the Executive Speaker Series. Additionally, I love the opportunity I’m given to apply the concepts I’ve learned in school to my job. Although challenging, I enjoy using my skills to solve real-world problems in the industry. Express Scripts is a very advanced company and I’ve been learning more advanced aspects of predictive model building than I previously learned in school. However, SLU has well prepared me for the programming part of my job. The basic concepts and ideas I’ve learned are universal when applied elsewhere.
Want to find out what opportunities an internship with Express Scripts can offer you? Check out our career site for more information.« Bringing Hope and Help to Haiti| LaunchCode Partnership Produces Techies for Express Scripts »
Bringing Hope and Help to Haiti
October 11, 2017 | Express Scripts
Bryan H. is a senior clinical account executive working to help public sector clients of Express Scripts control drug trend and spend.
During April 2016, I traveled to Haiti on behalf of my church. That’s when I learned about Mission of Hope, an organization that has been providing essential care, such as volunteer-staffed mobile medical clinics, in Haiti for 20 years. After learning about Mission of Hope and the impact the organization has on those living in Haiti, I knew I had to get involved.
Earlier this year I was fortunate to find three of my Express Scripts coworkers and two client contacts who shared my interest in partnering with Mission of Hope. We created a team and made plans to travel to Haiti in 2017. Proving that this was truly a team effort, Express Scripts donated prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplies for us to take with us that Mission of Hope needed to replenish their pharmacy. After 6 months of planning, our team of three pharmacists and three professionals set off to help.
When we arrived in Haiti, we received a tour and orientation. Our accommodations were in dormitory-style buildings with bunk beds and we brought mosquito nets so we could sleep free from their bites.
For four consecutive days, we assisted with the mobile clinic. During our first two days, we set up shop in a village church, while the next two days were spent outdoors providing care under mango trees (warning, watch out for falling mangoes!).
Given that the mobile clinic was 100% dependent on volunteers (except for one Haitian physician who serves each week), our days were long and the work was endless. Breakfast and dinner each day were eaten together outdoors at our campsite. We took our lunch with us and ate in shifts so we could run the clinic continuously from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
We used our limited resources to administer primary care to everyone from newborn children to elders in their 90s. We noted patients’ height, weight, arm circumference, blood pressure and blood sugar results. After being triaged at the nurses’ table, patients saw a physician and nurse practitioner. They then brought their prescriptions to a “pharmacy,” which consisted of three eight-foot-long tables. Medications were dispensed in small plastic bags with directions written on them and handed to interpreters who explained the medications and directions to patients in their native language.
During those four days, we saw 425 patients and dispensed more than 1,500 prescriptions. Everyone we encountered was incredibly appreciative of the care we provided. Thanks to Express Scripts, we had the antibiotics, other medicines and glucose testing strips to treat everything from intestinal worms to diabetes.
During the entire time we spent in Haiti, we never saw a single drug or grocery store. This was especially disheartening considering many of the prescriptions we provided patients were for over-the-counter products most Americans could buy at a dollar store.
As I reflect on my team’s time in Haiti, I know we were able to break through many barriers in order to help people live better lives. By helping all 425 patients and seeing what good can come from volunteering for those in need, I feel even more emboldened to do more. While the people we served didn’t speak English, and I didn’t speak Creole, there was an understanding that we were there to help each other. While the help I could give was obvious, the help every patient gave me was profound.
Want to join our team? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.« Come Sit With Us: 3 Career Stories from Women in Tech| A Look Inside my Internship on the Enterprise Data Science Team »
Come Sit With Us: 3 Career Stories from Women in Tech
October 5, 2017 | Express Scripts
The inspiration to choose a career in technology could come from anywhere. It could start by taking a challenging college course, playing with an old computer or being inspired by parents who work in the field. No matter what sparks the interest, technology benefits when women and men contribute and implement ideas together. That’s why Express Scripts is partnering with the Sit With Me campaign to encourage women in tech to tell their career stories.
We sat down with three rock star women on our technology team to hear about their career progressions. Here’s what they had to say:
How did you choose a career in technology?
Karri Bach, senior director, Digital Engineering: I always had an interest in electronics and technology. My parents encouraged me with techie toys like electronic wiring kits. When I was in second grade I used it to wire a burglar alarm on my bedroom door to keep my sister out of my room. During my first year at Mizzou, I took an Excel-based accounting course where I learned to write macros and was hooked. I changed my degree to Computer Science the next semester.
Renee Durr, senior software development engineer, Digital Engineering: When I was around 10 years old, my mother bought an old IBM computer. I was so fascinated that playing with it became a part of my daily routine. After high school I joined the military. My ASVAB scores were high, but the computer field was closed. I was determined and decided to take night courses. After my military term ended, I pursued a degree in Computer Technology at night while working as a secretary. One day all of the secretaries received new computers, but they stayed in the boxes for weeks. I decided to set up my computer. Word spread, and I was asked to set up the others. The Data Processing manager was impressed and offered me a job. From that day forward, I have been blessed to continually progress in this field. Even with 24 years of technology experience, there continue to be challenges. But I’ve decided that failure is not an option!
Jeanette Rushford, associate programmer analyst, Digital Engineering: My mom worked as a computer programmer and my father was a network administrator, so I grew up around computers and role models working in the field. My parents encouraged me to go into computer science. I studied International Human Rights and then started a career in Study Abroad, which is where I implemented new study-abroad software. I realized then that I wanted to pursue a technical career. I went back to school to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. One month before I finished my degree, I was recruited for a programmer position. The rest is history!
What advice would you give to women interested in a career in technology?
Karri: There are websites like freecodecamp.org and egghead.io where women can get started with self-study. LaunchCode is a St. Louis program that trains people of all genders and places them into paid apprenticeships with local companies. We’ve hired close to 60 incredibly talented engineers from the LaunchCode program in our St. Louis and Franklin Lakes offices. If you are not in the St. Louis area, search online for local boot camps and technical training programs.
Renee: If you have a desire to be in the technology field, let nothing stop you. Challenges will come. Be persistent in what you believe and you will succeed.
Jeanette: Don’t doubt yourself! You will not understand everything right out of the gate or even further along in your career because there is always a ton to learn. That continuous exploration is the nature of the field. If you find yourself as a curious problem solver who likes to think analytically, this would be a great career for you.
How do women bring additional thinking or perspective to technology?
Karri: Diverse teams are more likely to avoid the group-think trap. Teams that include women have been shown to solve problems more effectively and innovate better than single-gender teams. And it goes beyond gender ― we’re building technology products for people of all walks of life. Having diverse teams allows us to build solutions that are more creative, have broader appeal and reach more people.
Renee: There is a study that suggests that men’s and women’s brains are wired differently. I believe this to be true. If you’re in a room with a group of men, more than likely they are thinking the same way. A woman in that same group can offer feedback from a different perspective. My day-to-day interactions cause me to believe that we think differently, but we complement one another. Diversity in the workplace is extremely important. We can be a great team together.
Jeanette: We offer the female perspective when designing new products that women will consume, especially in the healthcare industry and women’s health field. Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” mentality, we bring diversity and a woman’s perspective to projects.
Interested in bringing your perspective to our technology team? Check out our career site for a full list of open positions.
Oh, and if you’re attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, stop by and see us! We’ll be at booth #3051!« From Supermarket Cashier to Coder| Bringing Hope and Help to Haiti »
From Supermarket Cashier to Coder
September 20, 2017 | Express Scripts
Gail F. is an associate programmer analyst supporting the supporting the Specialty team as they transition to newer architecture.
One year ago, I was a supermarket cashier with a bachelor’s degree in English, taking software development classes at a local community college. Today, I’m a programmer for Express Scripts – a Fortune 22 company. How did I make such a career jump? With a lot of help from an organization called LaunchCode, an educational nonprofit that provides learning resources and job opportunities to students in the technology field at zero charge.
After hearing about LaunchCode on the radio, my mom suggested I sign up. Thinking the organization strictly connected technology related employers with potential candidates, I brushed it aside. After all, I was still a long ways off from earning my associate’s degree in software development. But then, I discovered that LaunchCode taught a Python class. I knew a little bit about Python and thought it was a good language for beginning developers to learn. After doing more digging I discovered the class also taught Web essentials. Safe to say, I was hooked.
I applied to LaunchCode in the spring of 2016 and passed the screening tests, which determine applicant’s aptitude and problem-solving ability, not computer knowledge. In July 2016, I officially enrolled in LaunchCode’s coding class, which was provided at no charge and came with a bonus: I earned 12 credit hours at my local community college. This helped me stay on track to earn my degree. (Thanks to the training LaunchCode provided, I don’t need a degree to be a strong performer in my current role with Express Scripts, but I like to learn and finish what I start.)
LaunchCode’s coding class was intense, and moved at a brisk pace. For 20 weeks, I spent six hours a week in class. The rest of my time was spent reading assigned materials, watching videos and working on practice exercises and coding assignments. By the time the class ended, I not only knew Python, but Java as well. This allowed me to build simple web applications and successfully write code.
After completing the course, LaunchCode worked with me to find a job. That’s where Express Scripts comes in.
Express Scripts needed Pega developers, so they partnered with LaunchCode to help them find this talent. LaunchCode created a short Pega class to identify a group of potential candidates. I was selected to take the course – and when I finished, I was hired along with 23 of my classmates as a paid apprentice.
During my 90-day apprenticeship, I was paired with a programming partner to help me navigate my day-to-day work, as well as a buddy that helped answer basic questions, like how to find the company gym. During this time, I was amazed by how receptive and responsive the company was to change. It was also an amazing feeling to know that the work I was doing was actually helping improve someone’s life.
When my 90-days came to a close, I was offered a full-time position. As one could expect, I was quick to accept. My current position has allowed me to quit the supermarket and do something I’m truly passionate about – programming. I’m a problem solver, which is what a programmer is tasked with doing every single day. In my free time, I am also a teaching assistant for LaunchCode because, without them, I wouldn’t have landed my dream job so quickly.
Ready to start doing what you’re passionate about, like Gail? Check out our career site for a list of all open positions.« The Recruiter Scoop: Flipping the Script and Making Your Answers Hit Home| Come Sit With Us: 3 Career Stories from Women in Tech »