The Portal prides itself in being a safe place for students to learn and gain confidence as they gain experience through live projects for clients. When students graduate from our apprenticeships, we want them to leave as different people — cooperative, confident, and capable.

​This week, we sat down with one of our alumni: Miles Bonner. Miles came to us in 2015 and stayed with us for a year and a half. He graduated from UC Irvine in 2016 with a degree in computer game science. During his time with us he gained experience on eight projects, including creating websites and developing apps for our clients.

While Miles learned web development skills here that he did not learn in his classes, the biggest thing he gained from his time here was a soft skill: clear and effective communication.

Cultivating good communication skills takes time. Miles shared with us that on one of his first projects at The Portal, creating a successful product for the client was difficult both because The Portal lacked an effective system of communication, and because Miles did not have experience speaking with clients to determine their needs and timelines.

Yet communicating with this client proved to be an invaluable learning opportunity. On the following project, developing a new app, Miles was our project lead and worked directly with the company’s founder to ensure the product we delivered would meet the company’s expectations. While he was working on the project, Miles realized that the founder needed help solidifying his company’s vision. By asking the right questions and finding creative solutions to the problems that presented themselves, Miles helped form the vision and trajectory of the client’s company.

Miles learned not only how to communicate effectively with his client, but also with his peers. He encouraged all of his peers to speak up when they needed help, and always found a way to accommodate them. As a result, the project was successful, and the client was very pleased with the product he helped deliver.

Miles’ communication skills culminated in presenting The Portal at one of our Face to Face with Investors events with an audience of almost 200 people. After all the hard work he put into advancing his communication skills, speaking for The Portal was an easy task for him. We were excited to provide him with yet another opportunity to expand his skill set.

After graduating from The Portal, Miles used his new development and communication skills to work as a sales engineer for a card reading company. In his new job, he had the opportunity to travel the United States, Europe, and Canada to implement his company’s hardware and software solutions. Using his exceptional technical and interpersonal skills, Miles has exceeded our expectations and makes us proud to call him an alumnus.

This article was originally published on our blog, August 24, 2017.