Epicodus President
Occidental CollegeBachelor’s Degree, Economics
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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
Yeah, sure. So I I graduated from college in 2008 and I ended up working on a political campaign, was living in, uh, in California in the San Francisco Bay area. And I worked on the campaign to try toe keep same sex marriage, legal in California, and ultimately, we actually lost the ballot measure. But as you know, eventually Supreme Court ruled in our favor and we continued in the interim Thio organize people and have conversations. And I was really interested in this political work in trying to, like, you know, uh, make make our country and our world a better place. Um, and I kept running into just this frustrating situation where we were making a lot of phone calls, and it just took a lot of time because we print out the names of people to call, and then we would recruit volunteers, and then we would dial the phone numbers and we write down on the paper. What happened? Then? We enter them in the computer. There's this really slow, inefficient process. And I had the idea to start a software company to build. I used a couple like web based dialing systems And so I ended up doing this. I started The software company didn't really know what I was doing. E only had a little bit of development background, and I kept kind of bouncing back and forth between I should learn how to code and just build this thing myself and wow, like it's really hard to figure out how to learn how to code. I think I'd be good at it because I, like, took some coding classes when I was a kid. And I'm good at math and I like I'm good at music and these air often like things that people say like good signs that you'll be a good programmer. But it's really hard to find resources in supporting structure, toe learn how to do that. So then I would try to hire somebody or find a co founder, and it was really difficult because there was just this huge demand for tech talent. So I am. I ended up. I ended up starting that business and running it and hiring people. But But I couldn't let go this idea that there were all these people who are unemployed or underemployed and, uh and there's this huge shortage of software developers. And there wasn't a good way for people to learn how to code besides going to like a four year computer science program or just teaching yourself with books and, like, kind of the frustrating experience of learning alone. And so I am. I kept thinking like somebody should teach people how to code and help them get jobs in tech and eventually I just started talking to people about it, and I met somebody else who kind of had a similar idea. And I helped him start one of the first of what are now referred to as coding schools or coding boot camps. And I helped him get that off the ground. And then I I saw a bunch of school started opening people saying, Oh, this is a really good idea. We should do this, too. And he started seeing, you know, dozens of schools open around the country. Then I was a little dismayed because I saw that a lot of them are really focused on how exclusive can we be. How can we get the cream of the crop students and get them into the highest paying jobs, which is all well and good. But I thought there was this big opportunity to help people who didn't have a background in tech who maybe haven't gone to college who were working for low paying jobs and get them a foothold into the tech career into the tech industry. And so I ended up moving to Portland, Oregon, and, um, yeah, and starting epic Otis with really a focus on keeping the school really affordable, keeping the training really accessible, and yeah, and that's kind of been our mission ever since.

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
we offer one certificate program, and it's basically just like teaching everybody enough so that they know just enough. Thio get started as an entry level developer or, you know, some people in the working in Q A or in product management, but those kind of entry level technical jobs. And we when I ran my first class it waas, I think, nine weeks long and then I scream into with a slightly longer format on Di did on those 15, I think. And then I did an 18 week one. And so now we actually have. It's a It's 20 weeks in the classroom full time, followed by two weeks of preparation for than a five week internship. There were actually about to start offering on a part time basis is, Well, um, that one will be 40 weeks in the classroom, and then the job preparation or the internship and and the preparation for the internship will be on a more flexible schedule, depending on what the student wants to dio. And one of the nice things about just starting the school, you know, really small and not being a part of another institution is that I had a lot of flexibility to experiment and try different classroom formats and try things that we're really out of the norm for very different from the education that I got. And so one of the things that I really wanted Thio experiment with him that I ultimately proved really successful is the flipped classroom, which is this idea that you know, in a traditional classroom you have a teacher sitting up front giving a lecture, and the students take notes and maybe ask questions. And, you know, you might have even like, um, there's some sometimes, like break out into small groups and work on something together and then come back together. And then maybe you have a lab that you go and you do on your own and some homework that you do, and you come back in a flipped classrooms kind of the opposite and in for homework. You watch a video or you read some text or you go through and you absorb the information that might be given a lecture in a traditional classroom. And then, when you go to class, you do You work on projects all day, and I had I'd seen some of this approach in the school that I had helped start in San Francisco, and I just thought it was really powerful because, you know, one of the challenges of giving a lecture is that you you kind of have to slow down thio accommodate you either slow down to accommodate the slowest student or you go faster and you leave some people behind. And when you have the flipped classroom and people are absorbing the material at their own pace, they can. They can read and re read, or they can watch this video and then re watch it. And if something doesn't make sense, they can stop and they can think about it. And they can Onley go on when they understand what's happening. And on then when in a traditional classroom, you're kind of left on your own devices to go and do homework. And if you get stuck well, like good luck, you know, maybe come to office hours or calling other students in your class or try to form a study group. But you're really kind of on your own when you need the most help, and with the flipped classroom you're in the classroom, you're there with your teachers and your other students. And so you have all this support right around you at the time that you need it the most. So I I was really interested in this format and ended up trying it out and, uh, and felt like it was really successful. And the students really liked it. You know, some students, they say, No, I want a lecture. I want somebody telling me what to do and I want You know, I like that traditional format. That's fine. Those people can find a different school. It's not what we do, but the vast majority of the students that we've worked with really like that different format. So you know when you say how much time is spent in person versus online, You know, before Koven started, Way had 40 hours a week of in person instruction. And then and then we had, you know, the homework that people would dio, which kind of took the place of traditional lectures. And that could be, you know, half on hour a night thio sometimes over the weekend, like a couple hours. If there's like a really big new concept that we're introducing now with Cove it I mean it, Z, we've moved everything online, but it's still a really similar format. You show up, Thio. We use discord, Aziz, like a kind of chat on audio server. And then we use visual studio live share which allows people toe basically write code together in a shared format. And we have them, uh, we have our students pair up. And so Monday through Thursday in the classroom, they would pair up and share computer. Now they pair up in, like, basically, do this like, uh, live code sharing andan. They have They have an audio channel going between them so they can talk through their code. And then so they work together 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. With a break for lunch in the middle on the the projects that we assigned during the day. And then they, you know, have some additional homework to learn a new concept for the next day. And then on Fridays they work on an individual project to make sure that they really understand the material that, you know, they weren't overly relying on their pair. The other people that they were working with during the week and that they're able toe that they've really mastered the concepts for that weekso Monday through Thursday. They're doing eight hours a day pair programming, and then Friday they're doing eight hours of an individual assignment. Then, outside of that 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Class time, they have, ah, variable amount of homework per night, you know, and they have homework over the weekend, too. So, usually over the weekend, they learn a big new concept, and that could take longer. You know, that could be an hour, two, even three, depending on what's being taught and then on the weekday evenings. It's usually a smaller kind of something building on that big new concept on that might be half a now, er to an hour to sometimes even an hour and a half. You know, some students need a little additional time to, and they'll going to review what they went over during the day. And maybe they're Pair was really understanding it better than them, and so they need a little bit more time. Just review what what they worked on during that day. So it's really variable, depending on what the student needs

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
Yeah. So one of the really nice things about the flipped classroom format is that all of our teachers air working off a shared curriculum. So any time that a teacher says, Hey, this thing isn't working quite right. Then they can make that change. Or they can go to our director of curriculum development and and say, Hey, we need to fix this. And then when it gets fixed for that teacher gets fixed for everybody and we're not waiting on, you know, new textbooks to ship out in three years, Andi and the bar that we have for making improvements is much is much lower. You know that we can say, uh, we know immediately, you know, if we write a new lesson and then students come in and the next day and nobody knows what to do and everybody is struggling, we know that we need to explain that lesson more clearly, and we could go back and we can fix it immediately, or even if we wait created a project for the students to work on, and people are struggling it and we realize, Hey, we didn't explain that project well enough for that project. Contain some complexity the students weren't quite ready for or that project was too easy. Everybody finished it in three hours, and now they need something else to Dio. So So we get that feedback really quickly and really time from the students. And then we make those improvements were constantly changing and up creating the curriculum. We have a full time person who the only thing that he does is work on curriculum and make it better. And yeah, and then we get feedback from company is saying, Hey, this is like these are the skills that we're looking for. This is what we need. Like, you know, we have this big internship program where all of our students go through internships and companies will say, This was great like, but I really wish they had this knowledge with this knowledge. And, you know, a lot of companies, it's hard to please everybody, right? Different people, different companies have different needs, so we kind of have to try to create something that meets what most people need and then ultimately set our students up to be ableto learn the rest of the skills on the job, which is, you know, really what being a developer is all about. Uh, it's the tools constantly change the practices, change the things that you're needing to do change. And so you've really got to be able to keep learning. And that's what we really try toe. We try to give our students that base of understanding and a core set of really practical, applicable skills and then the tools to continue learning on the job and throughout their career, Um on. Then once a year, we have a curriculum advisory board that's comprised of, uh, usually there's like three or four people on it. But you know, there's a least one alumni who's been working in the industry for a while. Um, there's uh, and then there's a few people who are more kind of industry veterans. Right now, we've got a pretty senior person at Microsoft giving input on what we're teaching and how we're teaching up and they review kill him. Then they review the changes, an update that we've made in the past year, and they say, Hey, this is all good. This is where I think you should be going. Here are some suggestions for improvement

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
So we used to have a technical test that we gave people before they Thio come to epic owed us. And we have always been very skeptical of things like, you know, brain teasers and challenges like how maney marbles. Do you think you can fit in this jar? How maney piano tuners are there in Los Angeles? Because those don't any. You don't have to answer these questions when you're coding that doesn't tell you how good a coating. It might give you some indication of, like the way that somebody thinks logically. But but But I think that I think there's plenty of evidence now toe to support this, that, you know, Google did a lot of research into how to effectively interview and all these kind of like brain teaser, challenging questions or not well, correlated with job success. Eso so to me, the only thing that can really tell you if you're going to be good at coding is if you try coding and if you're good at it or not. And and so we originally had a little coding challenge for people that just said, you know, can you do some kind of simple, looping and branching, and you understand some of these coding basics. And if you don't know problem, there's some free curriculum that we put online. You can go through and you can learn how to do it, and that was all well and good. But we kept ending up with people in the class who still weren't prepared. And what we realized was that a lot of them had kind of models their way through that that pre work and had figured it out but didn't really understand it. And some people had just gone online and, like, got the answer from somebody else. I didn't understand it. It all on DSO We ended up with still kind of a wide range of people starting off in the class. So So we made a eso. What we started doing is started offering the we started offering in a class that would go through all of that pre work so that people could have that supporting structures. They were going through it and then we realized, Wait, let's just have everybody go through that and and we added some new concepts and some ideas that most people, even if you played around with coding. You usually haven't done much with version control and on, and we got into some or kind of like advanced, like usual haven't done much for, like, object oriented programming. So we added some concepts that most people who dabble in coding haven't seen so that they stay engaged and challenged in that kind of introductory stuff, even if they have played around with coding before. But then we're starting off with the assumption that people are coming into the classes with no knowledge. And when we instituted that, we really saw the success rates are students go up, um and yeah, and we were able to take people who who don't have that background in Tech, you know, especially for the full time program. We wanna make sure that everybody's at least tried out coding before they quit their job and jumped headfirst in. But But yeah, beyond that, you know, we just well, we'll take anybody, and then we'll do everything we can to make them succeed and sometimes especially people who are really new to coding, they may go through the class and three weeks, and they say this is really good, but it's really hard and I need some more time. And then they just come back to the next class and they, um they start over. And we have a really generous policy for letting people retake, Um, that first part of class if they weren't able to make it through and yeah, then once people finish, you know, like I mentioned earlier, we're really trying to train people for entry level technical roles so people will people will get into position does like junior software engineer, uh, junior Web developer. Sometimes they'll be like Q A Que analysts. We've had some people work at tech companies in E hesitate to say tech support roles because it's not just like, you know, helping somebody with a password reset. It's more like, but it is. Technically, it's technical technical support. You know, helping developers use software that's built for developers for, like performance, tracking and tracing performance issues and those kinds of things. Um so really just kind of, ah, wide range of those, like entry level technical roles, mostly in software development of some kind or another

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
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we have had people tell us that they were just so surprised. Especially since we've gone online and remote for co vid that they just had no idea that online learning could be so collaborative because our approach is so different from most other schools. Like I mentioned, students are pair programming four out of five days a week. Eso right there. That's a huge difference. You're not really working alone, ever. Except for that one day a week when you're working on your individual project a two beginning of the day we have students come to a video meeting and way call it sort of like the daily stand up and on. The teachers will share some some kind of updates for the day, maybe have a talk about the technical topics that are being covered. Um, and, uh, and sometimes also talk about one of the big things that we think is really important is diversity and inclusion, making sure that all of our students, regardless of their background, regardless of their gender, their race, their class background, um, that that they can feel included and so many weeks to actually talk about different aspect of diversity and equity and inclusion a to beginning of one class a week. So you know there's there's kind of a beginning little chat with the students and the teachers, whether it's on a technical topic or on things going on. People might share when we were not living in a pandemic like meet ups that they were going to be going to and invite other students to go. And then students pair up with another student. We put them into groups. Every week they're in a group of of several students. Then within that group, they choose a different pair each day, and then they work on the projects. And if the two of if you and your pair gets stuck, then you've got several other people in your group you could go to and say, Hey, like, how did you do this? Or or maybe you're really excited and you've got the other people in your group. You say, Hey, we just solve this thing. Check out this thing that we built, Um and then you know, of course there's a teacher, is there, uh, in person? They're walking around and asking questions when it's online they're dropping in. Like I mentioned, we use discord for communications. So, um, the students will pair up and they'll be on these audio channels. And there these group audio rooms that they could be in a swell, uh, and the teachers will drop into those audio channels and say, Hey, how's it going? Like, what are you working on? What's working? Well, where you stuck? What questions do you have? Let me check out your code and give you some feedback on it. Um, And then, uh, there are a couple of times during class where they'll work in bigger group projects for a full week. Um, so that they can not just get that experience working with one other person, but actually, like a team of 46 people where they're all you know, they come up with an idea for something that they want to build together, and then they all work on it together and, you know, figure out how to navigate that situation of different people working on different features and different parts of the code togetherwe've tried all of these things. Eso the for a long time we we have had people just choose. You know, there's 30 people in your class. Choose anybody you want, pair with them. One of the challenges of that is especially the beginning of class. Um, it could be pretty intimidating. Thio be like, who am I gonna work with And especially, you know, if you're more of a reserved person, we also saw that oftentimes clicks would form and that you get like, you know, six people who would just always work with each other and would never work with anybody else. And, you know, there's there's something to be said for like, Hey, the six of you are working really well together. That's great. But what we also saw was that a lot of times, um, students were part of minority groups. Whether it was because of their gender or their race, um, or their gender identity would would really feel excluded from those groups and would have a hard time approaching a group of people who were, you know, generally all men, mostly white or sometimes Asian American and and it, you know, I think it's it's difficult. Any time that you're in a situation where you're kind of a visible minority in a group aan den. When you end up with these cliques forming, it could be really difficult to break into them and to feel comfortable approaching them and yeah, and so on. Do you know when? So So for. And you know, beyond that, there's people who are shy into, you know, kind of trouble approaching others. And so we wait. Tried a number of things. First we try to signing people and saying like, This is your pair for the day But there's a lot of practical problems with that. What happens if you're Paris sick? What happens if you show up 15 minutes early to class in your pair shows up 15 minutes late? Um, what if you don't know that they're coming at all, and so then you pair with somebody else, but then your pair shows up and, um, you know, there's there's just a lot of things that could go wrong with that. We discovered that it just practically didn't work very well. And so we this thing of like creating groups and then having people pair within the groups has really just been kind of the easiest way for everybody to navigate it socially.we assign the groups and then within the group, you choose who you want to pair up with.

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
so over time we have just Dunmore and Mawr and Mawr of this to the point that we now have is many non technical. We call them advisers. So every class has has a teacher and an adviser, sometimes two, depending on how big the classes. And we have as many advisors. We have teachers and the advisers air responsible for the students from the moment that they make an inquiry to guiding them through admissions to helping them with, You know, if they're taking out student loans or getting financial aid, helping them with that, um, to helping them with their job preparation during class to doing employer outreach and finding internships for them to supporting them in the job hunt after they graduate. So you've got this one point of contact who's your advisor guiding you through all the nontechnical parts of the program, and we start the job preparation I mentioned. We have 20 weeks in the classroom before we start the internship preparation, and we start doing job preparation in the third week of class on DWI used to start it, you know, in like the last a few weeks of class and then we realized people just need a lot more support on that in some ways, like the job searching skills or more difficult than the technical skills. And so we have them. First we have them work on their LinkedIn profile. Then we have them writing a resume and a cover letter. We have, um, identifying jobs that they would like to apply for, and we tell them where to look. What job boards are fruitful to find those job opportunities, and then even when they find a job, you know, and we have them starting apply for jobs. Uh, I think, like six weeks before they finished the class work, we have a day where there they go on a job board and they find a job they want apply to, and they write a resume and a cover letter and they don't submit it, and they send it to their student advisor, and their advisor looks at it and says, Okay, this is what you did. Well, this is where you need to improve, and they'll give them feedback round after round of feedback until their job application is in a really good place, and we'll do that over and over again for several job applications until we can feel really confident that student is able to write good job applications. And so by the time they finished the classwork, they've already applied for for a couple dozen jobs, and then we reach out to employers. Thio. There's kind of two options for people who are living in Portland and Seattle. Um, we have a network of employers who who we reach out to when we find internships for them, and we help line those up for the students. For people who are elsewhere. We guide them through the process of reaching out to employers and lining up in internship. And some students in Portland, Seattle, want to line up their own internship. You know, they've maybe they know somebody at a company. Maybe they used to work in a company where they'd like to intern there ableto tow, line that up or they've got a very specific thing they want to do. You know, they're really interesting project management, so they really want to get a project management internship, and so we support them in that and help them line that up. But regardless, way work, Thio, help everybody get an internship for those last that last chunk of the class. And then once they graduate, you know, a lot of times they end up staying on longer at their internship. Um, some people will get hired full time out of that and then for folks who don't, uh, their advisers available to them for up to a year after they graduate and we check in with them on a regular basis, you know, reaching out, saying, How's it going? Hey, here's some job opportunities that we've found that I think you would be interested in here is like a meet up that might be good to go Thio and really just try to maintain that that support because it's a big transition, going from a really supportive, very structured classroom to Oh my gosh, you're out here on your own like applying for jobs and trying to, like, keep your coding skills up at the same time. And it could be really it would be really difficult for students to make that transition, so we want to provide them as much support as possible from their advisors.So for the for the internships, you know, we we have all of our students go through a five week internship before they graduate on. Do you know, we will work toe line that up on, get that for them and eso the vast majority of our students. You know, unless there's unless there's something goes really wrong and all of the interviews that they dio, um, for the internship, because we So for the students in Portland, Seattle, at least you know we do kind of a matchmaking process where we find enough companies who want to host interns that everybody should have a spot for an internship. And then the students will interview with a few companies. The companies will interview a few students. The students rank the companies that they like best, the company's rank, the students that they like best. And then we match everybody up and the only time that we can't make a matches. If there's just you know, if a student interviews with all the companies and all the companies say I really don't want that students and then we've got a very rare um but because we really try to do, we do a lot of mock interviews before and we try to identify problems with the students might have if they need more work on their interviewing skills. But if that happens, you know we will will actually continue to work with the student and put them in the next round of internships, even if we aren't able toe line something up for them sooner. Aan den Once they finish the internships, you know we most of the students who are actively seeking jobs will end up finding a job within three months of graduating. Some students take a break after the graduate. Some students don't start looking for jobs right away or, you know, kind of don't don't keep in contact with us, and then it can. It can end up taking longer and, you know, during Cove it it's you know, that's really slowed down hiring quite a bit. Uh, and you know, we've seen it pick up after the first few months, but but it's definitely still slower than it was before co vid. I'm hopeful that next year we'll see those. We'll see those rates pick up again

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. So the first thing we do is we just try to keep our program really affordable. Um, we are the least expensive code school for, like, a full time program. And when you take into account that we are twice as long as most programs and we're around half the cost of most of them, it's really just I mean, we're far, far, far more affordable. But, you know, still, it's several $1000 and it's several months of your life. And so eso for a lot of students, they they're not able to, you know, they don't have the savings to do it, or they don't have family members who can support them to do that. So we do have loan options, and we've basically, you know, we're we have kind of a situation where we somewhat guarantee the loans for the London companies that we payway, take a big risk on loans, and and we don't even get paid the full tuition upfront from those loans on, then, yeah, and so then students can could basically spread out the cost of their tuition. There's even an option where you don't pay anything on loans until three months after you graduate. But there's there's a variety of options there, and then we actually have a couple of newer programs. One of them is, um, for low income or unemployed students. We have a program where we will, uh will, essentially, if the student doesn't have a job. But by the time that they graduate and start having to make the loan payments, we will make their payments for them until they have a job. And then the other program we have is just a scholarship for the full length program and every class we offer scholarships, full scholarships for 1 to 4 people from underrepresented racial groups, especially Latina X, black indigenous people, as well as transgender and gender non conforming people, because they just face such great barriers thio, uh, to entering the tech field. Um, and we wanna make sure that we're doing everything we can to support folks from those groups who wouldn't otherwise be able to take our classes

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
how we do almost no marketing. The vast majority of our students come from word of mouth. You know, somebody goes through our classes, takes them, has a great experience, and then they tell their friends and family. And then those people tell their friends and family, and that's how most people find out about us. We also have really good reviews on online review sites. So a lot of people say, Hey, I want to take a coding school Let me see what the You know the best reviewed school in Portland or Seattle is and then, you know, they end up coming to us. Um, there's some people who find us just from kind of searching around and like, seeing what people have to say on Reddit or, you know, another websites. They find us that way. We Yeah, we for a little while we tried doing some online advertising on Facebook and Google, but the problem is that like it's just very expensive. And, you know, there's a lot of schools out there who are charging $20,000 for their students to come to them, and when were, you know, charging less than half that we have much smaller margins, and we can't afford to pay $5000 to acquire a student s. Oh, you know, we just said, Hey, you know what? Like if we'll leave that to the big venture backed publicly traded companies, um and yeah, well, really. Just rely on our reputation and the good work that we do.not systematically. You know, we we don't have a program that's like, oo refer somebody, and we'll give you $200. We tried a couple of things where it was like, you know, if you sign up for classes and then you get a friend to sign up, then like we give you all discount off tuition. But almost nobody did it. And so, you know, I think like when people are, I think especially for their education, it's a really big investment. They've got to be doing it for the right reasons. And and so, yeah, you know, we we have people have those conversations with their friends and family, and, you know, if if we do a good job, then they're gonna recommend us.

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
Yeah, I would say more. Interestingly is like what hasn't changed. You know, you think of tech and programming is being this very fast changing world and, you know, from one month to the next, software is obsolete and people are doing things differently. But the reality is that it doesn't really work like that. You know, you start approach, you start a project, you choose a set of technologies and then 10 years later, the project still going like you haven't rewritten in another set of tools and technologies. I think the one big exception to that that I would say, um is the emergence of react that as react has kind of become the dominant way too. Right front and Java script. Um, you know, that's just really transformed. How e I mean, everybody wants react developers and on, you know, I actually personally think it's a little bit of a shame, because I think there's some other really great solutions and, you know, they're they're used pretty broadly, but but reactors definitely come to dominate the front and development ecosystem in a way that, I mean, didn't really or barely existed when I started Epic Otis. Um You know, I think dot Net has also in c Sharp have seen a really big resurgence, but they always were very popular. It's just that they've become even more so with with dot net core and Microsoft going open source and cross platform. And so you see a lot more interest there from not kind of outside of, like, the traditional big enterprise space. Um, but honestly, it was always very popular. And so, you know, I don't know that it's I think it has become more so and maybe more so amongst smaller businesses in a way that it previously wasn't. But But it's, uh yeah, I think things have mostly stayed there. Mawr stayed the same. Um, you know, there's been some big changes, like in dev ups. And, you know, the rise of Docker, Um and and container ization. Um, and yeah, and just Deb ups in general with, you know, that kind of moving? Yeah. Moving from just like operations and deployment into, like, a field of development. But I don't know, maybe those were the big changes that I've seen. But again, like I think you learn how to code. You learn how to think like a developer. You learn how to learn new things and, you know, a songs you haven't really like Pigeonholed yourself and said, Oh, the only thing I do is PHP development. I mean, if the only thing to do is PHP development, I'm like, you don't have a very deep understanding of how software words you know, You're probably copying and pasting some code and and making some tweaks to try to figure out how to make it work for your application, which is fine. But that's not really software development. If you actually understand Software Room, if you are a PHP developer and you like, really understand how PHP works, you're gonna be able to pick up JavaScript. You know, if you end up on another project or another company where you need to learn C sharp, you're gonna be able to do it. And I think the the only shame and the whole thing is that, like a lot of hiring is done by, like HR managers who don't really understand what they're hiring for on DSO, you know, they'll say, Oh, this person's PHP developer like we need to see sharp developer. We can't possibly hire them. It's like, no, like if you if they're a good developer, like you can hire them, they will learn it on the job. But, you know, kind of in terms of, like, the actual skills that are necessary. Like, yeah, if you can If you're if you're good developer. And as long as you're not expected to go in and like the the expert on day, one thing like you can come in with any skills and you you gonna learn between you to know

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
I mean, the most rewarding thing is always people coming in and getting jobs. And at the beginning, when we were much smaller, I mean, now we've got over a dozen employees, but we know it was just me or when it was me and a couple of their folks. Um, the big thing was always, you know, like, you teach somebody first. You know? Well, there in the classroom, they have these breakthroughs and they figure things out, and they they start to understand how coding works and also, you know, they lot of times people have social breakthroughs where they come in, and they're like doing this pair of programming thing. They, like, have some social skills they need to improve on. And you see them working on that. And I've had people say I chose episodes because I knew I needed to improve my collaboration, my social skills. And this is where I would have the chance to do that. And, you know, it's really amazing seeing the way that people are able to grow that way by just like constantly working with other people. Um and yeah. And then, you know, when people graduate and then they look for a job for a while and then they get it and they're really excited and you know it. It changes people's lives. We, uh the average income bring salary for an epic OTA student before they started is $29,000 and the average outgoing one, depending on the class is like 50 60 $1000. And so that's a really big change in people's lives. And, you know, especially for for, like, more working class folks who are doing this because they, you know they want to do something. Um, that's going to be MAWR. It's going toe support them better financially than it has and oftentimes is more fulfilling and more interesting than the work that they had done previously. That's absolutely the most rewarding. You know, the difficult parts or when students don't get jobs and you know, when they when they graduate. I think, yeah, the most difficult thing is when people graduate and then they don't stay in touch with us. They kind of turned down or ignore, like the help and support that we give and then you know, six months later, we find out that they're still searching for a job that they feel like, you know, they wasted their time and their money, and that's you know, that's really discouraging because, you know, there is absolutely there's always things that we could do to improve, and we're always, like, changing and trying to do better and I won't absolutely the first student Then I think that's part of why we do a good job, because we're always challenging ourselves to improve. But, you know, it could be really discouraging when people feel like we haven't done right by them. When they turned down a lot of our office of support and help and yeah s So I think that you know, when people in general you know, when somebody doesn't find a job, whether they've been involved or with, like, getting are supporting help or whether they have turned it down. Um, that's always really discouraging and demoralizing because, you know, they came to us for a reason and they did not getting it. But I think that's that's definitely the minority of cases and on DSO. That's why, like we keep doing the work that we dio

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
um, we I mean, when I started, there were maybe like 40 coding school like So when I helped get this other school started in San Francisco, Um, there weren't really there wasn't anybody doing it. And then, yeah, over time, more and more school started when I started. There may be a couple dozen schools, and now there is probably close to 100 in the United States of various sizes. And there might be less now that many of them have gone out of business or have gotten acquired. Um, but yeah, you know, there's there's a lot more schools, but I always said, you know, Epic Otis is gonna position itself Thio really try to help people who who don't have a lot of money who don't have a lot of tech background, and more and more schools have said, Yeah, we're doing that, but I don't think anybody is is committed to it is us on. You can see it by the tuition that they charge and you can you can see it by the You know, the selectivity in the admissions process is that they have and yeah, and you know it's not. It's not a knock on them, but it's like we've we've really been, I think, the most effective at that, like entry level part of the market. And it's serving people who don't have as much of the tech backgrounds and yeah, and you know, not say there aren't other schools doing it, but but I think that we're pretty pretty unique, or or, you know, one of the one of a small number who are really committed Thio helping people in that category.

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
Yeah, I went to undergraduate, uh, Occidental College. And that's the last time I've been involved in higher education on you know, I I really wanted to do, ah, liberal arts degree. I was, and still am interesting a lot of different topics. And I took classes and physics and, uh, and politics and art. And yeah, I I really loved learning about all these different areas, but I also, by the end of college, I realized I didn't really like school. I felt like a lot of the assignments I was given or busy work. I had professors who e took a philosophy class, and I kind of came up with a I wrote a paper and I came up with my own philosophy, and I don't know if it was any good my professor basis, and you need to rewrite this and copy somebody else's philosophy. And I was really discouraging because I thought, like, isn't it supposed to be a place for, like, you know, new ideas and creative thinking, and, uh, yeah, and so So I really kind of chafed against a lot of that traditional academic structure and, you know, and I saw that a lot of the students that I went to college with or kind of there to check a box because it was was expected of them. And I didn't like that, you know, it felt discouraging that a lot of people, you know, kind of half hearted about the thing. Um and but the best part of my college experience actually was a couple classes I took that were called Intergroup dialogue. And they were. They were classes where we would have half the students were male. Half the students are female, half the students were white, half the students where students of color. And then we would read about issues of social identity and how, Yeah, kind of some theory around that some just like reading people, writing about their experience about you know what it's like to be, say, Latino woman, like growing up in the United States and was like how that shaped her experience Or you know, what it was like for for a white woman to kind of like, discovered, like what it actually means to be white and not just think about like, oh, what are like What does it mean? A lot of times I think is Aziz white people for me and other white people. You know, there's things kind of like unspoken assumption or like, even unexamined assumption that, like, sort of the our culture and practices, or like the default and and that everything else exists kind of in comparison thio hours. And so, you know, there. So I had this big process of like reading about about other people's experience who are like me and other people experience. We weren't like me and then talking about those experiences with other people, some of whom were like me in some ways, at least in some of whom had really different experiences. And that was really, really, really powerful. Andi, Anybody who has the chance to do something like that, I couldn't recommend it more highly s. So that was really the most impactful part of college for me. I was already pretty committed to ideas of, like, improving society and making it better. But it was very different to go from like, sort of this, like thing of wanting to make the world better to Oh, wow. I think I'm like starting to understand the experience of other people much more deeply than yeah, then kind of Based on my then my assumptions based, you know, from my experience, which, yeah, that's pretty different.

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
life lessons. I think one of the big things that I really struggled with in my software company, Waas I was not I wasn't a very good manager. And I wasn't a good manager because I was very conflict adverse. You know, I I didn't really want to tell somebody if they weren't meeting my expectations. I wanted Thio If something bothered me the way that something happened, I didn't want to talk about it. I just wanted them to fix it, them to do better. And, uh and it really forced me to grow. And I was I went through likes, um, personal challenges at the same time that I think largely were based on some of the same. You know, like, uh, adversity to conflict and and just needing to, like, really kind of get my own, like, self esteem, honestly, to a place where I could feel really confident in myself so that I could, like, go and tell somebody else like, Hey, this is what I need from you. This is this isn't working out well for me on do engage with them in that conflict. And I honestly have to, like, go to a lot of therapy and talked to a therapist and get help on that. And there were some times and I felt really depressed. And, you know, a lot of this is happening in my like, mid twenties and, you know, I felt really depressed and alone and lonely and and so it was interesting because the going to therapy helped me deal with a lot of those things in my personal life. But it also really helped me in my professional life to be a better manager, to be able thio like, give, give direct feedback to people to talk about with them when things weren't going right. And then I saw those skills that I built in my professional life, also helping my personal life. You know, when I was like in a relationship and something wasn't going right in the relationship, I now had some practice from work where I had, like, practiced eye and engaging in conflict, and I was able to engage, you know, however I was dating with at the time Thio engage in that kind of productive conflict with them. Um, so I would say that that's really like the biggest area of growth for me. Um and, you know, there's also just been when I started epic Otis, it felt like I could do no wrong. You know, we just kept growing and growing, and more and more students signed up. And then we Yeah, and, you know, people kept getting jobs and more and more employers were getting involved. And then at some point, it really slowed down. The economy got good and people weren't as interesting going back to school. And, um, honestly, we got, like, a more challenging student body who was, you know, more likely to be unemployed during a good economy. A lot of times, they had, like, you know, like interpersonal and social challenges that we're now dealing with and not as much professional experience. And so we Yeah, we and we really We overextended ourselves financially, and it was this very humbling experience to say, Oh, like this was working out well, because I'm this brilliant leader advantage. Er, this is working out well, because, like all of the external conditions, we're really good. When the external conditions about challenging, you know, it became much more difficult to run the business. And, you know, I had toe let people go. I had thio e I had thio kind of restructure the business and pare down the number of course offerings that we had. It is very, very difficult. And it really uncovered, like a lot of my shortcomings and a lot of the areas that I needed to improve in. And so, yeah, so that was a really, really challenging and humbling experience. And I'm personally I'm glad that I had it because, you know, it made me realize, like, what My what my shortcomings were and where I could improve and that I wasn't all that that I thought I waas

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
When I finished college, I had no idea that I was gonna end up doing what I'm doing on Guy really, just kind of stumbled into it, and I someone because I kept doing like, the things that I thought were, like most interesting. And it's like gonna be most impactful in the world that I live in. And I I Yeah, I just, uh I would say, you know, like there's it's hard to make a wrong choice, but the first job I had out of college, I, um I have not liking. And I thought e thought I would, like find it interesting that I find a chance to grow. But it wasn't I didn't find it meaningful work. And the work itself wasn't that interesting. And everybody worked with was really nice. A company was, like had a lot of good values in terms of like supporting its employees and including them. And, um yeah, but, uh, ultimately just I didn't like him, so I I ended up quitting a job like two months in, and it was it was really hard to do because I was letting a lot of people down who had hired me and who had invested in me and, uh and I walked away from a lot of money to It was a really well paying job, and And I took a job on a political campaign where I was working long hours for very little pay, And, uh and it wasn't part of, like, you know, you don't, you know, worked as a field organizer is part of a professional path. It's not gonna help you get into grad school or or into into management positions in the corporate world. But it was definitely the best decision I could have made because it was something that I actually cared about wanting to do. So I think my my advice is, um, yeah, you know, like sometimes it Z Sometimes you you think I've got to do this, make the sacrifice for my career for the long run so I could position myself for this. But I think it's actually like I think that we like culturally in the United States, we do too much of that and we don't do enough of thinking what actually is going to be feel good and be meaningful and be rewarding and be interesting and you know, hopefully like, make a difference now, rather than like making these sacrifices for some illusory future games. And I think money is the least important part of it. Obviously, you know, even make enough money to pay your student loans to pay your rent, Thio to support independence that you have. But But, yeah, we I think we way people get really caught up in the money. And that's that's not what makes you happy, would. What makes you happy is doing fulfilling, challenging, interesting work with people that you respect and, uh, and who you like. And if you could do that like the money is not very important. And like the you know, whatever statuses and Onda titles you have are not very important. And and you know, what I've found is that, like, the money and the status of the titles, like, if I As long as I focused on the other things, those things actually ended up coming along with it, too. But they Yeah, but But it turns out that they're not actually that important or rewarding or helpful. Its's the other things that are