1) Run us through a typical day running your coding bootcamp.
The day I have a “typical” day running Metis is the day I start looking for a new business to launch. The beauty of my work at Metis is that every day is different. I spend time having individual conversations with our students and instructors to hear about their experience and get ideas for how we can improve Metis. I’ll spend time meeting with hiring managers of companies or organizers of influential Meetups to develop ideas for how Metis can better support employers within the NYC digital community. I’ll spend time with the Metis team reviewing applications and discussing applicants. I’ll spend time with our partners, such as thoughtbot and Datascope, identifying ways to assess our efficacy or plan our growth. I’ll spend time with our graduates, connecting with them at Hack Nights or special Metis events. I’m very fortunate that Metis gives me the opportunity to work on so many different facets of running a business.
2) The coding bootcamp/immersive program is a recent trend, and new courses continue to pop up everyday. Is there a unique feature or distinct motivation for your bootcamp?
We believe what makes Metis different than other bootcamps is the following:
• We partner with world-class practitioners, such as thoughtbot and Datascope, who bring very deep subject-matter expertise to the curriculum, instruction, and application process. Our students are getting taught by some of the best experts out there.
• For each subject area, we have developed a curriculum that combines the expertise of a world class practitioner with Kaplan’s expertise in learning science, assessment and motivation. Not only will you be working on your portfolio from day one (with weekly deliverables), but you will also get the chance to work on a project like you would in a real world experience.
• Because of the involvement of Kaplan and these world-class practitioners, we can introduce students to a very large hiring partner network (comprised of companies within thoughtbot and Datascope Analytics’ client network and Kaplan’s global reach and employer network).
3) What backgrounds do you find your applicants usually coming from? Is there a particular kind of student or learning style that excels in your programs? Is there a kind of student or learning style that is not well suited for your programs?
There is no typical Metis student background. We have students who are currently in college taking our courses, and we have students who have been very successful in their careers looking to make a fundamental change of direction. We have students who come from finance, real estate, law, marketing, IT, etc.
What we have found is that many students choose Metis because of its emphasis on a “sustainable pace.” The program is a reflection of the work environment fostered at thoughtbot and Datascope. The bootcamp is run 9-6 pm M-F and instructors encourage students to have a life outside of the course. It is an intensive bootcamp while maintaining the approach that “Your brain is like a muscle.” The program was intentionally designed for students to replenish and to have moments to step away from the materials, while building a strong foundation. This is also why we treat Fridays as Personal Investment Days.
Students that are looking for an accelerated all-day/all-night experience are probably not the right fit for Metis.
4) What are some of the biggest challenges facing your coding bootcamp and the industry today?
There are several challenges:
• There are a lot of companies entering this market. Not all those companies have the subject-matter or pedagogic background that Metis has. That is going to impact program outcomes. This could have two negative consequences. First, some individuals are going to have a much tougher time finding jobs. Second, some employers may get turned off by bootcamps if they feel certain programs are representative of the whole.
• Outside of startups, there are a lot of established companies that have not yet validated the bootcamp model. Until this starts to happen, bootcamps will largely serve as an answer to a small percent of the supply-demand hiring imbalance that exists.
• The best bootcamps are great at producing entry-level graduates. But, for a bootcamp graduate, the bootcamp is just a step in their learning. Employers need to provide the appropriate level of support (e.g., mentors, coaching, apprenticeships, etc.) for bootcamp graduates to truly shine.
• Many people are still not aware of bootcamps, particularly once you get outside of certain demographics, industries, or metropolises. So, creating awareness and providing accurate information is crucial.
5) Since your first cohorts, how has the direction of your coding bootcamp changed over time, if at all?
Our first cohort graduated in May, 2014. We have not really changed direction, as much as have made continued improvement to our course, such as beefing up the pre-work, including more ongoing assessment to enable targeted support, and restructuring our Career Day to make it easier on our students and employers. We also continue to evolve to strike the right balance between instruction and project-based learning. For example, our initial course had the students completing three applications over 12 weeks. Now they do six applications.
6) What kind of roles, jobs, and/or companies do your programs ready your students for?
The graduates of our Ruby on Rails bootcamp will be prepared to get jobs as entry-level web developers, specifically in Ruby on Rails. The graduates of our Data Science bootcamp will be prepared to get entry-level jobs as data scientists and data analysts. The graduates of our UX & Front-End Development bootcamp will be prepared to get entry-level jobs as product designer, web designers, mobile designers and UX designers.
7) What’s the best advice for students who want to attend your coding bootcamp?
Attending Metis is a serious and significant investment. Do your homework. Talk to us via phone or email. Visit in person, if possible. Read our students’ blogs. Speak with our teachers or sit in on a class. Ask us about the design of our curriculum, the expertise of our teachers, the experiences of our alumni. We are very confident in the experience we can deliver and we want our future students to have that same confidence, too.
8) What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in starting a bootcamp?
The most important thing I’ve learned is to ask lots of questions and listen carefully. Metis is a start-up. We are learning and evolving constantly. We are constantly seeking feedback from our students, our instructors, our hiring partners about how we can improve Metis. There are so many incredibly talented and smart people who have so much more experience than I do. My role is to be smart enough to ask them lots of questions, listen carefully to their answers, and then figure out how we can act on that advice.
9) How do you see the learn to code movement and the bootcamp industry changing over the next one to five years? Where do you see these programs fitting into the larger picture of education?
Intensive career acceleration path programs represent a disruption to traditional education. The macro trends – rising tuition costs, a 44% underemployment rate, a supply/demand imbalance for critical new economy jobs – all support this. The structure, offerings, and regulations of bootcamps will undoubtedly change over time, with lots of factors -- online/offline hybridization, in-house corporate programs, economic subsidies, state licensing, new skills, course modularization, influx of new capital and larger companies, etc – all contributing to that evolution. But, that’s natural. I view it as part of the process of bootcamps shifting from a nascent industry to a bedrock of career advancement.