Arizona State University BSE, Computer Systems Engineering
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How did you get to where you are today? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path? What inspired you to start your training institute?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
um I went toe undergrad 1999 to 2003. And, um, when when I started studying computer science in 1999 I tell you, it was, like, quite naive about the industry and kind of where things were headed and software engineering and so forth. Um, I I went into college really thinking like I wanna make video games And if I if either make video games or make like, um, hardware like three D X video accelerators and so forth. And by the time I was wrapping up with college, I guess I had, I'll say, like, grown up a lot and was a little bit underwhelmed or frustrated with what seemed like a pretty narrow focus in our computer science community that there was a lot of emphasis on, like making things to make the most money as possible. And I felt like that just didn't really appeal to me. Eso I had. A lot of my friends and peers were going off to work at kind of your big defense contractors and aerospace companies and so forth. Um, which was totally reasonable. Um, and I decided to take some time and get into teaching. So I joined teach for America in 2003. Um, I taught middle school for a year and then high school for four years and then, um, helped open a middle school and new help, like start a new middle school, um, and run that for two years. So altogether. It was like seven years in in public education. Andi, I would say that that whole experience, like, really shaped Ah, lot of my understanding of the world and work and business And, like, even ethics and morals and so forth, I think, um, getting to spend time with people who we're not like, I think when I was in my computer science studies, my peers and friends were given most everything in life, like had the high level of kind of personal privilege. And when I got out toe work and teach, it was really eye opening to see what it is like toe live without so much privilege and toe, have toe fight and kind of grind for everything. Uh, everything that you get. And so I think that I've kind of kept going down that path while I left public education in in 2009. Um, just kind of kept working on these ideas of, like, how could you use education to help people like change whole trajectory and change what's possible for them? What's possible for their family, like all those, uh, kinds of impacts. And while I still enjoy, I sometimes joke with my students that I don't even like programming when I do it now. Sometimes like, okay, it's kind of fun, but the thing I'm most compelled by is how it can be a tool for people to change their whole life on. That's really like the inspiration behind starting touring, just kind of opening those doors wider to like a broad swath of people.

What training programs and courses do you offer? How much time is spent on in-person and online classes in a week? How many weeks do students typically take to complete?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
concept around accelerated developer training. So the first program I started was back in, um 20 12. Yeah, 2012. And had this question of if you had really smart people who don't know anything about programming, how long would it take to turn them into job ready software developers? And I obviously had done like, a for your computer science degree at Arizona State and I I learned a lot of things, but also there was a lot that just didn't make a big impact. Um, whether it was languages or courses or whatever that I felt like I didn't learn the skills that I really now value as necessary for professional software developer um things. I was just talking yesterday. It's one of my alumni and he was ranting about automated testing and how his company doesn't do automated testing and he doesn't understand. Like, why would people write software without automated tests? And I, you know, understood his frustration and also said, like, Hey, just so you know, like when I went to college, I never even knew that existed. It was not even a topic of discussion that one might use software to test software. I had never heard of that until several years after graduating from university. And I think universities have a difficult role or occupy a difficult niche, which is that the typical university program is trying to both build foundational understandings and work skills. And e think it's very difficult to do both at the same time. And so we said, like what if we design a program that was really oriented about really oriented around the work skills and focus what, like, what are the things we would have to teach for that and where possible? Let's deep, deeper dive into theoretical understandings, but really try and keep them as the understandings that are going to impact the actual work that you do. When I was an undergrad, I had toe take a sequence of classes in assembly and, like I learned interesting things. I suffered a lot of hours in the lab trying to write assembler programs and and have them work. And I would not say that in the 17 years since then that those the skills I developed an assembly have ever been relevant to the work that I've done. It's like maybe if I was, if I became a hardware engineer or something like it could have. But for me, it didn't. It was a waste of time. Uh, and so then designing our program and so forth the questions were like, How could we? How could we teach the things that people are going to actually use and then deep dive where we can? So, um, currently we started with Ah, it didn't actually even have a name at the beginning, was just called touring school. But like, the program of study didn't have a name. Um, it's now called Back End Engineering. And then in 2016, we started a front end engineering course. Eso both of those. They run a lot longer than what's become common in the like, kind of boot camp space over the years is typically around like 8, 10, 12 weeks. Um, we've e think a lot of classes, a lot of courses were designed with this question off. Like how little can you teach somebody for them? Thio be employable. Um, and I think when you ask that question, you can get an answer. That is like 8, 10, 12 weeks. Um, we had a slightly different question, which was how long? What is the period of time at which someone can learn faster on the job that they can learn with us? Like, what's the inflection point where learning out in the professional world is gonna be faster and more meaningful to them? On DWI theorized that that was around six months, Um, did some testing. So my first program was five months. Second program was six months, and third program, uh, is, as it stands today is 27 weeks. So it's just about seven months. Um, we've always done in person learning, and I continue to believe that in person, learning the best in person learning is better than the best online learning. But I would say the gap between those is getting is getting tighter as all of us or most everyone has been compelled into remote learning and remote work over the last nine months. 10 months? Um, I think we're all learning a lot about how to make this work s o for us. We've been running all our classes online during this time. We'll stay online until at least July of next year. Um, and basically what we're seeing is that student results are strong enough that there's no rush to go back in person. Um, that we can kind of afford to be like the last people to go back in person. And, um, yeah, it just kind of keep keep going on with this remote life. There is discussion about whether we should ever go back in person, like, should we just a remote? There are these interesting advantages, Like, um, you know, for us being in like a urban environment, most of our students commute to the office each day when we're in person. And if you just take the maybe 45 minutes that spent each way commuting an hour and a half a day, five days a week and multiply that out across 27 weeks like you could actual weeks of time back by not commuting or even if they're not productive during that time, when they're at home, they're cooking breakfast. They're doing their laundry there resting, sleeping, whatever. Um and so I think we have some hard questions to discuss and consider over the next, like, six months as faras Will we go back in person or not? Um, right now I'm 85. 90%. Yes, but but not 100%

What process do you follow for creating and updating courses? How do you ensure the relevance of topics and material covered?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
thing, um, trying to figure out what to teach, because if you ask an employer, they always believe that whatever they use is the most important thing on DSO. Basically, every employer would, like Toa, have customized training classes that match up exactly what their demands. And so for us, it's always been a challenge and opportunity in a way to talk to employers. Ah, see what they think they want. Try and assemble that into courses that makes sense without being too scattered. Um, e think it's rarely useful to be familiar with the technology or to get exposed to a technology. It's good to know technologies air there. But beyond that, like if you take um, no Js. For instance, if a student's decides toe like study no Js for a week and then later is job hunting, they don't know enough. They don't have enough skill developed where it actually impacts their job hunt. And they've almost done too much work to just know that no Js exists. So I think there's like a sweet spot in there where it's valuable to go do a four hour workshop or a two day hackathon or something like that and learn about a technology that might not be your in your normal course of study. But then, beyond that, if you're going to study it, I think you have to study it for Riel. And it has to be like multiple weeks from a month, six weeks kind of thing where you've built multiple projects and so forth. And so it's always hard to try and balance that from a course design standpoint. Which language or languages do we teach? Which frameworks do we use on top of those languages? Um, the best information comes from the alumni who are actually working in the company's. They know better than the companies know about what you actually need to be successful at the company. And they're the ones who can tell us like, Well, you know, in my company were doing typescript and in the front end program maturing. We just we learned vanilla JavaScript, and this is what was hard for me about that transition. And then we can use that information to either make changes to the courses or to add, like supplementary sessions and materials to say like, Okay, you learn this thing now in vanilla JavaScript If you want, apply it in typescript. Do it like this. Um, it's been hugely validating to see students work in fields and technologies that we didn't teach them. So e think it's particularly true amongst our back end program that students while they learn ruby as kind of their object oriented home base in the boat back in program. Many of them will also learn python along the way or pick up Java and then go into jobs where it's not the majority of them. I would say, Well, the majority still go into, like ruby and rails centric jobs. 60 70 75% of them. Um, but the remaining percentage spread out across Elixir and Java and python. Um, a little dot net here and there. And what that shows me is that they really learned how to be software developers, not just how toe they didn't just memorize one programming language and then, like, regurgitated that they can reapply those ideas. And that to me says that we've struck the right balance between coming back to the question that I think universities struggle with or face around balancing like work skills with fundamental understanding. If you have enough fundamental understanding that you can reapply your skills in a new language and Freemark then I think you've actually develop something meaningful that can keep you going for your career.

What criteria do you use to admit students and what are the various student profiles in your programs? What kind of career growth and jobs could students get afterward?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
been interesting. I think it's it's always like a topic of consideration is what do students need when they come in? And we want the qualification bar to be a slow assed possible. Basically, we just went through kind of a government review process that said that we had to start requesting high school transcripts and we asked why? Like, I don't care if someone went to high school if they could do the work, What do I care about if they went to high school? Um, and basically the answer from the from the regulators was just like, too bad. That's how it is, like get high school transcript. Okay, uh, we have always tried to build application and admission processes that are based mawr on aptitude than they are on the skills that of student has today. So I think, um, there are some spaces in the in the programming world computer science world where you have to know programming before you go there, toe learn programming which never made any sense to me. Eso we tried to really design our processes around aptitude for the concepts of the work mawr than the direct applications. So, uh, in our application process, for instance, like no student does any programming, no student is asked about programming. It's kind of irrelevant. Uh, we focus on logic. And can students if students can solve some logic problems and then we liked our interview process is to coach them through some logic problems and observe How did they respond to that coaching? Can they apply the strategies that we, uh, share with them along the way? If they can do those kinds of things, then we believe that they can do those things in the program and work with the coaching and support that they get. And if they can work with that coaching and support that we know they'll be successful. So, um, that's really what we look for is kind of the coach ability of people coming in the career. Growth is is super interesting, and I think it's still early to tell. So, you know, as I said, my earliest graduates go back to 2012, so I can't say anything more than eight years of track record, Uh, the research on the graduates across those eight years. It's about 1100 graduates alumni at this point, and it's been really, really encouraging. So what we found is that across that whole pool, regardless of how long they've been out, um, 92% are working in programming. 6% are working in related technical roles. So, like project managers, team leads agile coaches like all those kinds of things. So, uh, what you see is that 98% off alumni are working in the field, and that's just that's, like, hugely validating to us. Um, the career growth I was on a panel once, uh, there was a woman from Oracle who said, according to their research, that students like this from programs like this, uh faced would only enter entry level rolls, the ones likely to be automated within five years. And then the students would be back looking for a job training. And when she said that I was quite convinced she was wrong, Uh, but really was curious to see how the data would play out. And unsurprisingly, it has not gone that way at all. Once, alumni, what's anyone in programming has two years experience, three years experience. They can largely write their own ticket in terms of jobs that are open to them cos locations salaries. So, like we see average starting salary of around 75,000 and then that tends to climb by like 6 to 12,000 per year for the next five years after after entering the workforce. And so it's been really amazing to see their growth both kind of in their positions and responsibilities and in their salary levels. We keep it really close contact with our alumni to kind of keep learning from them and what they're seeing in the field, what they're seeing in the job market, etcetera, obviously, Cove. It has created, like a lot of instability in the job market. But I think we're on the cusp of like, some really good trends in engineering employment in Q one and Q two of the coming year. Yeah, so students like they get into the job and then they do well, and that's pretty much what we hope for. That'sbeen pretty consistent that the average student, um, job hunts for 67 days after graduation. And that can vary. Of course, some students get jobs before graduation. Some students get jobs, it takes 128 150 days. Um, we consider over 100 days to be an extended job hunt where something is going wrong in the process, whether it's the way the students approaching it or the skills or the way they're explaining their experience or whatever. Uh, so we we came into 2020 with ideas of how do we push that 67 days down to create a faster, timeto higher? And then this virus situation disrupted the employment market very quickly. Uh, specifically in March we saw something we had never seen before, which was that employers who had extended offers to alumni and the alumni had signed it and they had a start date and everything Had those offers rescinded, Um, before the start date came, and you know, the cost and effort that goes into hiring someone from a company side is very high. So when companies were willing to kind of throw that investment and money away, that's when we knew very quickly, like, Oh, this job situation is about to get bad. Uh, and March, April, May June It was pretty bad. Pretty sparse. Um, I would say we saw jobs. Uh, students were finding and accepting jobs at about 20% 10 to 20% of what would be normal during that time of year. And so that then led to like a backlog of students cause we kept graduating students. So now our our pool of job seeking graduates kind of kept growing through the spring and summer. We started to see it warm up a little bit in July and August, September and October were stronger. Um, right now, Q. Four of of the calendar year is the worst time to try and get a job with holidays and the onset of winter and so forth just cos budgets ending for the year. There is never a lot of hiring in Q four, so people are making some progress. And then I think now that the election is over, Um, there is a lot of renewed optimism in the market, and optimism leads to investment. Investment leads to jobs. So I think as we look at Q one and Q two of 2021 that there will be, ah, significant like resurgence of technical jobs, even though I think the wider economy might be struggling at that time, like the economy could essentially be going down overall but technical jobs going up.

How do you enable collaboration, social interaction, and comradery among students? Do you use any software, host online or offline events, or follow any processes for this?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
um, the hardest part of being online or remote is we can do all the important functions. It's just not as fun. And it was great. Um, we have this office in downtown Denver where we used to have, you know, 200 plus students every day and just the interactions that happen over lunch and in the hallways and people jumping in to help. And, uh, the way you know, being working in a lab or classroom. And you can hear someone two rows over, give out a big sigh and then just know that you should check in with that and say, like, Hey, how's it going? You know, you need some help. It's It's been tough to replicate those spaces, um, online. And so we continue. I'd say we continue to like it. A rate on solutions. We do things like code fair. We do some special events around, um, non technical things of like we've done like a student talent show a couple times, and, um then also celebrate the work as much as we can. So we do like a demo day every seven weeks. We're kind of the best projects are shown off and um, some guest judges from the outside give feedback and ask questions and so forth. We've had a little bit of success, so we're very slack driven, um, which has its pluses and minuses, but our slack channels. Now I saw recently there are 7000 messages a day posted on our organizational slack, which is just crazy. I don't know what people could possibly be talking about that much. Um, but trying to create small communities amongst the big community, I think in our online spaces, no matter what you do, when you assemble 5100, 200 people on a zoom call or what have you, you can't There's nothing you can really do that can make that group feel cohesive. Um, I think it's really about building and reinforcing small groups. So we've been really trying to support and advocate for our kind of student interest groups or student identity groups are we have ah, black students Alliance. We have mess close like our organization of flat next students, Uh, we have, like a, uh, it's called Joan Clarke. Society is an organizing group for women in our alumni pool and in our student pool on just trying to create those as the spaces where or amplify those as the spaces where people can find connection and confined support and, uh, see where they might want to take the next steps of their student journey and of their career journey. That's been it's been really great. But I think, yeah, that there aren't any. There is no magic bullets in terms of community building. Um, if I think about what software we use, it's like it's slack. And then there's, Ah, there's an app called doughnut that we use for some random pairings of people who are interested in just getting coffee chats and so forth, but just slack and zoom. And it's a little bit of doughnut and ah, whole lot of people labor to try and try and bring people, we enjoy it right and like way enjoy as a staff being in the space together like we have really close, like relationship as a group. And so it's hard not to just, like, see your friends for the students. I I think it's the same for them where interacting on Zoom, um, can get a lot of work done, but it just doesn't quite feel the same. And so then the difficult question for us is like Does the, um is the Delta there of the benefits worth the costs? Um, and the costs, I mean more of like the human costs in terms off, commuting the like, living in masks and virus exposure and so forth right now. Obviously, the answer is, it's not. While ah, lot of public schools like K 12 public schools have have reopened in our area, um, we're not going to do that for quite a while, and it's it's a hard question for us because I think part of our identity as a program was being an in person program. In a space where students could choose other online programs, Um, whether at the like traditional high red or in the boot camp accelerator space. What does it mean for us to be online program? If we were to stay that way forever, do we still have the same? Uh, do we understand? Like our market niche and what we're bringing to students that they couldn't get elsewhere? Uh, those are the pieces that we have. Toe. Yeah. Try and figure out and hammer out over the next six months or so.

How do you support your students for internships or jobs? How do you prepare them for job interviews? How do you provide networking and mentoring opportunities?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
It's something I think that has to be woven into, like the whole experience. You know, if if you are in a four year university setting and you do 3.5 years of just keeping to yourself and then in the last six months or like okay, I better go meet some people or go do some interviews or whatever it's, you're gonna have a hard time in the job market. Um, it's people are much more successful when they can kind of slowly build that fire. For us, that means doing things like Job Shadow is one piece of it where AH lot of our students have never seen or don't have any exposure to what it actually looks like to be on a software team. So we try and have them spend a day with a software engineer. Um, typically, it's an alumni who's working out in the field. Um, we do ah lot of interaction with outside folks, whether it's through, like our mentoring programs or through us, mentioning like Demo Day and demo competition, where outside people are coming in and judging and getting interaction with them, seeing how do they understand software? What are they looking at? How do they talk about quality and processes or outcomes and design and all those things? Uh, and then there's a lot of job coaching. So I think today, more than at any point in the past, Uh, being a successful software engineer is in large part about being a successful, like business person functioning professional in a business where 30 years ago, I think you could be kind of the quiet person in a cubicle and just, like, get your tickets and type out some code. Uh, that's really very few people live that life anymore. The modern software professional is very like interactive is very engaged, with product management and product ownership and customer feedback and all those kinds of pieces. So, um, e think when students are in like an undergrad program, there could be an illusion that I just came to learn how to code right or just came. I just I just want to do program. I don't wanna do all that other stuff, but as one starts to or or attempts to enter the job market, you find that the all the other things are probably more important than your ability to program being a great programmer who people find to be a jerk. You're not gonna get a job, and you're not gonna like surviving that job, right? So being a person that people really enjoy working with and you're fine at programming, you'll do well eso for us. That job prep and and professional skill building kind of happens like throughout the program. Um, it's almost like every week. Students have some classes about, um developing interview skills, developing their vision for the future. Like, what do they want in their career? How are they building their resume? How are they telling their story and their cover letters and in their interviews and so forth? Uh, and then finally, when we get to the end, when we saw this co vid job market disruption, um, we started in a fellowship program, which is something we've been kind of thinking about for a couple of years, but never had the moment to really make it happen. So in June we started what we call turning plus, which is a 12 week fellowship program where students get It's a paid fellowship. Um, and they're working for 12 months out in the field, putting the lessons they've learned into practice, um, kind of rounding out their skill set while their job hunting. Maybe they find a job at the company that hosts them for the fellowship, but more most of the time, they're using that as an opportunity to build our confidence where AH lot of confidence plays a huge role in the job hunt. Um, if students have, like the skills to succeed, but they're nervous or scared to try and explain those skills or to explain their story or whatever, you might as well not have them. So building confidence, like in the academic time and in the kind of job hunt time after academic time is hugely important to that success. Along the way, we have like a professional skills and and career coaching team. So, um, students have individual coaches and small group coaches and so forth that they work with. I I think in ah lot of university settings. Universities offer those services, but no one's telling you to do it, and it's easy to overlook. I think, particularly engineering students are prone to a mind set that says, like I don't need anybody's help like I got this. No problem. And I would really implore people to seek out those resources and take advantage of them like someone doesn't need to be a computer scientist to give you great coaching about how to get that first job. Someone can do practice interviews with you because the the parts where I think people are most likely to struggle our first in those cultural interviews trying to explain yourself explain, um, what you believe in and where you want your career to go and so forth. If you nail those parts on the technical, the technical interview pieces like it really is up to you like you can. You can handle those parts. But the there's so many people that can help with the strategies and the practice around the nontechnical parts that I think it's really important to seek those out and take advantage of them.

How do you assist students in paying for your program? What kind of scholarships and financial aid are available for students and how can they avail those?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
Yeah, there's not a point. Like I think, for us it was always interesting, um, to try and lower the financial barriers. So if you create a a training program where people have to write a large check on Day One, uh, now you're selecting down to a very narrow swath of people who could possibly, uh, participate. And so from the beginning, we've always tried to build an offer ways for students to offset those costs or delay the costs. Really? Right. So student loans and so forth. Um, early on, there weren't a lot of tools or partners or anything who are interested in that. It was seen as like, too risky to lend money to people going through these kinds of programs. But now, over these years, um, it's proven out that people come through these programs, they get good jobs, they pay their loans back. And so then there are a bunch of lending companies. We have currently three or four that we work with who will lend students money and cost the living to get through their time. We also were able to build a partnership with the Veterans Administration so that veterans who have g I bill benefits can use those g i bill benefits at turning to pay their tuition. This is a great deal for them. And, yeah, continue to, uh, iterating on finding new ways for students toe. Basically, we want students to pay as little as possible, and we want them to pay it at a time when it's as easy as possible. So how do you make it so that they pay very little of the beginning? And then once they have their big fancy jab, then they can pay the rest. Then, um, when it doesn't, it doesn't hurt. It doesn't inconvenience them. Uh, so, yeah, that's how we kind of continue to iterate on those pieces.

What marketing software and channels do you use to find and engage prospective students? Which are less effective? Which one do you recommend to students to learn?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
marketing is hard, and I think there's the There's the illusion and engineering spaces that if you build a good product that people will just adopt it. And that is not true. Uh, it is very sad. And I guess over a career in engineering and product development and so forth, you'll see companies and people build really great products that then fail because they can't. They don't have a cohesive strategy for reaching adoption for making adoption happen. Um, so for us, I would say our our marketing and outreach was really messy for a long time, and we relied on kind of word of mouth and friends of friends and so forth to refer students to us to refer jobs to us. Um, sending email, too, like my contacts and my network and be like, Hey, come hire somebody. Um, and it's taken us a long time toe. Get better at those things. E think nowpretty much all the like, normal tools that one would expect, believe it or not. Like people see banner ads and they see Instagram ads and they click on things. And, um, it leads to it leads to conversions. Um, I don't think marketing in the modern world is mawr like brute force than it is great insight. Um, it's rare that somebody comes up with a marketing strategy or campaign or advertising or something that you say, like, Wow, this change the game. You know, it's usually just more of it and spending money on it on When you if you don't have a lot of money, that's really hard. Uh, and so for a long time, like we would spend, like, $6000 a month on marketing, which is pretty, pretty low. Um, now we're Maurin the like 20 25,000 month on. But it helps us keep like a sustainable flow of prospects, um, coming into the system. So I think in terms of like learning, what a student might wanna learn is, uh, email integration is still huge, right? So how do you build systems and automation? Is that integrate with um, like your mail chimp or or any equivalent software. How do you get that data into, like if you're building an app and somebody shows up and logs in, like, how are you segmenting that email address in your email automation platform? And, um, those understanding and caring honestly about those things is hugely valuable because most engineers don't care.uh, like 60% of new students are referred by current or previous students. So that's dominantly are our main channel of recruiting, Um, which is like a huge validation, right for people, for our students to send us the people that they love and care about, um says that they believe in and appreciate like, the work that we've done together, Um and so that's that's been really great. There were always questions of like, Is it sustainable? I can. If students yesterday referred the students today, then the to the students today, have anyone else left to refer? Um, and thankfully, it's it's continued to, uh, dancers continued to be yes.

How has the demand for certain skills and technologies changed? What kind of jobs would see big growth in the upcoming years?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
about entering the industry now versus 15 or 20 years ago is that there are so many technologies and there is very little evolutionary pressure against them. Uh, you can as a basically 20 years ago before I get Hub Stack Overflow like kind of world technologies would die if they didn't have enough users. If they didn't have enough software developers, they would just die out. Now it's possible to sustain really small communities. It's possible to sustain communities that are shrinking over time. And so my conclusion on that is most of the technologies we have now we'll have forever, and then we'll keep adding new ones, right? So whether you go all the way back to like your COBOL and FORTRAN, there will continue to be COBOL and FORTRAN jobs I was talking with, uh, we were talking with the vendor who built their application in cold fusion in the like mid two thousands, and no one on my team had ever heard of cold fusion. I was like, Yeah, like I've used it. I it should be dead, but it's not. There is, like continue to be some cold fusion developers, and so I think, what that means is like software developers or students can worry too much about picking the right technologies. It's hard to go wrong. It's hard to I can't even think of a technology, honestly that if you said this person is like a good, hardworking developer, they get along well in their team and they're highly competent in this niche that I would say, Oh dang, never mind They're useless, right? Like if whether it's, um, like traditionally, let's say, under respected technologies like PHP, like there's a million PHP jobs, there's Ruby Python, java dot net like they're just so many jobs. So many companies, so many different technologies. It almost doesn't matter which one you do as long as you get good at it. And if you're good at it, then there are other people who would like to work with you to do that. Um, I think for the coming years, JavaScript is one thing that I can say, you know, will probably last as long as humanity. Uh, when it shocked me, if 200 years from now people were still writing JavaScript, which it's kind of tragic because I don't care for JavaScript that much. But um, if you wanted to learn and study like one future proof technology, it's get good a JavaScript, and it'll never it'll never go away.because it's like so baked into the Web. And, you know, I think the Web continues to, like, grow into our daily lives and even, um, you know, if we look at mobile, APS and so forth, it's like they still have javascript under the hood or they're interacting. Maybe it's javascript on the back end. Um, Java scripts can do. You can do everything. Which javascript now, right? You could do hardware programming, which javascript Which is just unbelievable to me because javascript is not well suited to hardware. Programming is not a good language for programming hardware, but people made it work. And so now that it is everywhere, um, it's unlikely that it ever like retracts. And I don't see a scenario where, like, a better JavaScript comes along and replaces JavaScript. Um, it just that just doesn't really happen very much in programming. Um, and so job script itself is a language has has grown and changed a lot over the years. I think they're on version seven or eight or something like that, uh, and continues to improve. Get richer. Uh, you know, interfaces and kind of designs of what's possible and object oriented programming and functional programming and synchronous programming and parallel programming. And, like all those things, continue to iterate in JavaScript. So, yeah, I think, uh, I think what all that means is, like all our devices. Oh, I should also say, like, javascript so lightweight that you can run it on all kinds of different devices. Right? So, uh, I expect that most of the places that even like C has been used that will actually see javascript, um, permeate those areas. And I don't know honestly, if you're like, oh, we're Would you like to buy this car? Um, the engine, like the CPU and the engine runs on like runs JavaScript code. I probably say no personally, but one day people will say yes.

What were the major exciting and memorable moments? Were there also any moments that almost got you to quit? How did you get past them?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
But the way our program or programs like are set up is that everything happens all the time. So, like students are graduating all the time, it's every because we layer classes. It's every seven weeks. A new group is graduating, and so it's like over the seven years, I think at this point we've graduated like 62 classes, and I have to remind myself that like every graduation is there on Lee graduation, and so sometimes, you know, especially here in Cove, it times It's like a Thursday evening, and I'm thinking to myself like how we have to do graduation tonight, Okay, you know, get put a proper shirt on and get on the zoom chat, get on the zoom call, and as soon as you get there, you remember like, Oh, yeah, these people are fired up like this. Is there one graduation and there they've worked really hard to get here, and they're excited about it. Um, and so I think we get toe have those winds all the time. We're, like, spoiled for for memorable moments. In a way, um, they're just like when Every time somebody gets a job, it feels like a memorable moment, right to hear, like, the excitement from them And like what a difference it's gonna make in their career and their personal life and all those kinds of things. Um, I think some standout moments are, uh, for me A lot of times I'm working on, like, the business operations. And so when something comes through, like I remember when we got approved by the Veterans Administration for the for the G I bill benefits and to say, now that, like, veterans of the armed forces can come to turning for free. That was definitely a moment where I was like, Oh, my God, I like I can't believe this just happened. Um, and so it's it's things like that. I guess that stand out is like the times that the door opened a little bit wider to mawr people to a different section of people. Um, those are the pieces that we get really excited about. Um, on the negative side. Honestly, Never thought about quitting. Uh, there were plenty of times we didn't have enough money. So, um, there were times in the early years where, like, I didn't get paid or my rule was always we pay from the bottom to the top. So if there isn't enough money, the closer you are to the top, the less likely you are to get paid. Um, we we've never laid anyone off, and everyone has always gotten paid the money that they were owed, even if once in a while it was a little bit late. Uh, and I think those air the hardest times because people like our staff invest so much of their of their brain of their heart of their effort into students. And then if we get to a spot where it sounds like we don't have enough money or we don't think like, uh, it creates all this uncertainty and fear for them, which then prevents them from doing their best work for the students, Which means students don't get what they deserve. Um, And so, you know, thankfully, over the years, like we really stabilized demand and payments and loans and all those tools so that, uh, it feels like a long, long ago nightmare when we used to worry about covering paychecks and that kind of thing. But those are definitely the lowest moments. Um, the way that we got past them, I think has always been through it. Sounds like cheesy, but it's honestly transparency and collaboration. And I think a lot of tech companies rely on hype and building up. You know, we're gonna get this investment. We're gonna be worth all this money we're gonna like and they're just building up this image of who they are or who they think they are or who they wanna be. Um, for us, when times are tough is when we, like, pull the most people in whether it's asking the rest of the staff for help and to say, like here we have this we have this recruitment problem. We have this financial problem. We have this Whatever, Uh, can we figure out, Can we brainstorm ways to help or to be humble enough and honest enough to reach out to the outside? And there have been times like I went to my parents and was like, Hey, I'm really short on payroll. Can I borrow some money and pay payroll? And I think I can pay you back in six months. Um, and then two weeks later, I had to go to some friends and say, like Hey, you made money on this company like, can we borrow some? And I'm pretty sure we can get it back Thio real soon. And if we can't, then like, I'll pay you back over the next 10 years or whatever it takes, you know? So, um, having the network of support is just hugely important because everybody has hard times and, like every organization has hard times. Every individual has hard times, and if it's just like up to you in those hard times, you're going to struggle to make it. And and when you have a network that you can rely on and you could find support in, then I think there's always like a path forward.

Who were your competitors when you started and how did the competition evolve? How did you create a competitive advantage and a unique selling proposition?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
I think our industry, um, grew quickly. So when I started my first program, there weren't really other programs like ours. There were one in Chicago and one in San Francisco that were kind of just getting started. Also, um, and then fast forward. Two or three years and there were, like, 100 plus competitors. And I'm very stubborn. I'm like a very stubborn person. And the way I approached competition was to not care, which was that, like, if we spent time thinking about what somebody else was doing or worrying about somebody else was doing, then we couldn't do what we do. Well, um, and so through the years, like we've tried to just ignore competition as much as we could and say, like If we do what we do, the best we can, then that's gonna be good enough. It's probably gonna be better than everybody else, so just do what we do and just keep pushing in. Over the years, it zits played out that way. Most of our competitors have gone out of business or being acquired by big companies and so forth and then kind of like, faded out of business. So we've never worried very much about the competitive landscape. I think there's an illusion, especially in technology, that the marketplace is small and the marketplace is actually very big. And even if if you're interested in going into some field or starting a company and there are already successful companies in that space, it doesn't matter like you can still be successful. There's room for more than one great success in every niche, Um, and yes, so I just think if you if you bring like your heart and your skill and your attention and like unwavering commitment to ah problem than you can always find success there.

What college programs did you attend and what were their best parts? How did each of your college programs prepare you for your career?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
state and did, um, computer Systems Engineering, which was, like CS and ee mixed together on Ben also did a degree in economics at the same time. Um, I think the single best part of my computer science education I don't even remember what the class was called. But it was about engineering processes mawr than it was about work. And we did things like we wrote a user manual. And we did, um, we wrote instructions for some high school kids to come in and disassemble the thing and then reassemble it. And it was one of the only times that I got toe work in a team where it felt like we really had toe work together. We couldn't just divide and conquer. Um, and you know, I hope that since the early two thousands that universities have created more spaces for pair and group work because that's what the job looks like. It's not. It's not individual. Take this assignment, come back in two weeks and deliver your results. People collaborate on a daily and hourly basis, and so I want to see that in college programs also

What three life lessons have you learned over your career? If any, please also discuss your experiences facing adversity, or trying something unusual.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
I think the number one like lesson or kind of like moral I come back to is it's always easier to just tell the truth. And whether it's like uncomfortable truth or difficult truth or embarrassing truth. Keeping track of non truths is too hard and too likely to trip you up. When you tell people the truth, you tell them mawr than maybe it feels like you should. Then they're able to help you. They're able to understand your scenario, Um, and like you get places, right? So, um, I think like, be transparent told the truth. Second is like prioritize what's good for other people. And if we can do that, then some of them will prioritize what's good for you. Um, if we all like, look out for ourselves, then we're like also failed by ourselves. Um, when we look out for people and take care of them, then like when we need it, they'll look out and take care of us. Um, I think the third one is to just, like, be willing to jump in and whether it's like in collaborative spaces or its community spaces. When, um, you know, I've spoken at a lot of user groups and done, um, some things like this, with with undergrad college audiences or master's programs and so forth. Um, when there's an opportunity toe like share or to support, like you take it and because, um, you you have to, like, build the network, build the movement in that way, and it always it always pays off, even if you don't like know how it always eventually leads to something of somebody saw this talk or somebody met this student or somebody, uh knows this or whatever. And it leads to the next success for somebody else, um, and so try and like being as broadly connected to a community is possible. I think it's hugely, hugely valuable. And to be honest, like in America today, it's like more needed than ever.

What starting job (after internship) would you recommend to students who hope to grow professionally like you? What other parting advice, dos, and don'ts would you give?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Wed Nov 11 2020
uh, for, like, first jobs or second jobs in the industry. It's most important to me that you work with people who you believe in, and you like, um, that I would take a lower paid job. I would take a technology that I'm not excited about or whatever a niche I'm not excited about. If there are people that I want to spend all my time with, because the relationships that you build, particularly early in your career, will perpetuate for the rest of your career. The programming space is unbelievably small in terms of like the couple thousands of people who do it. Andi, even if it's tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, where the relationships that you build with people will lead to your second job and your third job and your fourth job and you'll find yourself 20 years down the road, working with or hearing from are being recruited by people that you worked with in your first job. And so I think prioritizing jobs where the people are the fit for you. Everything else is significantly less important.