In April, Make School held its first Product College Preview Weekend for prospective students in the Class of 2020. The weekend was packed with tours, sessions, and discussions with many Product College teachers, current students, and staff. The gathering was also a wonderful opportunity for prospective students to meet each other and see what an amazing caliber of minds and hard-working individuals will surround them in their time at Make School.
One part of the Preview Weekend was a panel with some of the Product College's top instructors. If you weren't able to make it to the Preview Weekend, we hope you find the below questions and answers from the panel helpful.
Want to ask your questions in person? We're hosting a second Preview Weekend July 13-15. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
The Instructors: Adam Braus (Product Development, Web Development), Dan Morse (Product Development, Mentors), Alan Davis (Computer Science, Data Science, Public Speaking), Eli'el Gordon (Mobile Development), Mitchell Hudson (Web Track and iOS), Susan Nesbitt (Job Search & Networking Coach)
Is this a software engineering school? Because I need more than that.
Alan: At Make School, we want to make you a success, and that requires a foundation in one of two things: either mobile development or web development. In addition to that, you can build a lot of other things. You can do Data Science as a kind of minor, for example, but you'll be incorporating Data Science into either mobile or web applications that you build. Entrepreneurship is also an add on -- a sort of minor -- here at Make School.
How do I decide whether Make School or a university is better for me?
Alan: It depends on your goals. We've had two or three students out of more than a hundred come in and realize that Make School is not right for them, and we then help them go back into a university. In particular, I'm thinking of a student who I helped get an internship at NASA, and he realized at the internship that he wanted to do research in AI and computer science at a deep level, and a university was the right place for him, so we helped him go back.
So, the way to think about it is, what are your goals? If you want to be a researcher and publish things, probably a university is the right place for you. But if you want to build applications, work in industry, and actually provide value to users, Make School is a much better place for you, in my opinion.
If I'm not positive I want to go into tech, should I still consider Make School?
Adam: I mean, Make School is a tech school. If you don't want to be a software engineer, you probably shouldn't come to Make School. I want to be really clear about that. They say every brand should stand for something, and you should know what that is. We train software engineers.
That being said, software is eating every industry. Starbucks is hiring software developers. Think about that. Every company is hiring software developers, because software is doing more and more. So if you're interested in technology, it could be your gateway into another industry that might be hard to enter through the traditional channels. That was my experience in higher education.
(Adam Braus, Head of the Product College)
Why are you teaching at Make School?
Mitchell: I enjoy software development. I also enjoy teaching, and I think Make School with the ISA model is the future. I went to school and I had a student loan, and it was a lot of money that I had to pay back when I graduated whether or not I had a job, and now-a-days, the student loans are out of control. I really believe what we're doing will disrupt education. That's why I'm here -- I think it's a great idea.
Eli'el: I'm a Make School alum. I really believe in the mission and the values of Make School. I really like building products, but one thing I've realized I enjoy more is teaching people how to build cool products. Teaching someone and seeing them ship products is just an amazing experience. It's really interesting to see what comes out of the students here, and I like being around that.
Alan: I think the short answer to this question is that I was born to be a teacher. The long answer is that I did research in academia, and I realized none of that stuff gets to users. I really wanted to put things in people's hands. Then when I started working in industry I realized I like teaching other people how to do things better. Now that I'm at Make School teaching, I feel like I found the thing I'm supposed to do on Earth, and I really enjoy doing it. I love seeing that moment when students light up because they get something for the first time.
Dan: My background is in growing companies, starting companies, nonprofits... and in every single thing that I've done throughout my career, I noticed that what made me most excited was helping people reach their full potential. And to work with a phenomenal group of instructors who are all very humble -- it's very much a student-first culture -- I really treasure working with such bright, motivated, dedicated instructors as peers.
What are Employers Saying About Make School?
Dan: We have these employment cycles at the end of every year, and it's always interesting to see how things turn out. For example, we had one of our students get a job at Lime, and we were excited that he got the role -- it's a really up and coming startup -- and then we hear that one of our other alumni got a job there, too. Employers, when they get Make School students, are often seeking more.
We recently did a trip to Yelp, and it's because we had a first hire at Yelp, and they were like, "Wow, there's more students like this? Why don't you bring them all in and we'll feed them lunch and show them around!"
What a lot of the hiring folks are saying is that the students have skills beyond a lot of other college students because they're basically running product teams -- that's our big focus in term three. Running product teams, doing user feedback, really following industry practices.
And, quite honestly, our school has to match with industry standards, because the whole model of income share agreements requires that we're meeting industry needs in order to get revenue. So, we really have to stay vigilant and we're held accountable, and it shows in our students getting hired and then it shows in companies' continued interest in considering more and more students.
What is the relationship between Make School and its partners?
Susan: First off, if you go to our website, you can see a list of our corporate partners and also our scholarship partners. We've got about forty or so corporate partners like Facebook, Lyft, and LinkedIn. We have agreements with them so they are looking at you as candidates.
While you're at Make School, we get them in here as guest speakers; we get you into their offices or their campuses for tours. What we try to do is get you in front of their technical recruiters, in front of their engineering teams, their CTOs -- we want you in front of their talent, and their employees in front of you.
(Susan Nesbitt, Job Search & Networking Coach)
That should also take the form of mentorships. We have an ongoing mentorship program throughout the year. Some of our partners have a lot of employees, others have fewer -- but all of them are generally hiring throughout the year. We work with them on their apprenticeship programs, their internship programs, and then full-time hires. So there are a lot of different capacities where they'd be looking at you and getting to know you throughout the year, and you'll be able to look at them more closely and ask, "Is that a company I want to work at?" And you'll actually then know people there.
You've heard it all day long today -- one of the easiest ways in SIlicon Valley to get a job is the referral network. What we do at Make School is we make it really easy for you to get to know people at companies where you want to get a job.