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Over the past year, we’ve seen coding bootcamps merge and be acquired by education powerhouses, but Hack Reactor’s recent acquisition of MakerSquare marked a first for the industry. What has this meant for the two full-stack, JavaScript bootcamps who have both boasted killer job placement rates and starting salaries? We catch up with MakerSquare CEO Harsh Patel to talk about the evolving curriculum, their recent expansion to LA, and life after the acquisition!

 

What's the state of MakerSquare these days, after some significant changes like switching the curriculum to JavaScript and joining forces with Hack Reactor?

The state of MakerSquare is quite awesome these days. I feel we absolutely made the right decision on both JavaScript, as well as partnering with Hack Reactor.

 

Has the MakerSquare curriculum evolved?

Yup. We're using the same curriculum and program structure as Hack Reactor, and making modifications as we see fit for each market (SF, LA, Austin).

 

How have Hack Reactor and MakerSquare influenced each other since the acquisition?

We've influenced each other quite a bit. We share the same admissions process, curriculum and program structure, and hiring network. Hack Reactor can take advantage of MakerSquare’s hiring network we developed over the past 1.5 years with companies like NASA, IBM, HP; likewise, our grads can take advantage of the Hack Reactor hiring network with companies like Google, Boeing, etc. Together, we've got quite the lineup of representation from employers who have already hired graduates.

 

Since the acquisition, have admissions standards remained the same for both MakerSquare & Hack Reactor?

Admissions standards are the same for MakerSquare and Hack Reactor post acquisition. We use the same programming challenge and technical interview. MakerSquare and Hack Reactor were both very focused on having excellent applicants, and we continue to stay focused on that. If applicants are not ready for admissions, we don't lower the bar, we create structure for them to learn more before being accepted.

 

Why did MakerSquare choose to expand to LA over NYC, Chicago, Boston, etc? Any plans to expand further?

We have graduates and employers in LA already. Between the two schools, we have graduates in LA at NASA, Google, Boeing, the Getty, etc. We already had students coming to SF and Austin from LA as well. LA also has lots of sun. We hear from students from LA coming to MKS in Austin and SF that they feel as though there is a lack of outcomes-focused, high-quality programming schools in LA, which is exactly the need we fill as MKS.

 

In the past, coding bootcamps in California have faced some regulation or criticism, but it looks like this expansion is being welcomed by LA's city council! What has that relationship been like?

Yup! Keep in mind the LA's city council is separate from the BPPE. High-quality programming schools that train people for jobs are very welcomed by the city (who wouldn't?). They're excited that we're a proven program that has confirmed cases of getting students the skills they need to be employed as engineers in Los Angeles. The relationship has been fantastic.

 

On a broader level, have you noticed that it's been easier working with regulatory agencies/gov't in TX and CA since the TechHire announcement?

I wouldn't say it's been easier working with regulatory agencies since TechHire. I've noticed no difference, and we're proceeding with working with government agencies in the same way we were before. However, Dean Florez, who's a proponent of high-quality programming schools, has been doing great work to bridge the communication gap between the BPPE and high-quality programming schools in California. He wants to see a well trained workforce, and he's been in CA's government long enough to know how to get things done.

 

What's the job market like in LA? Are you partnering with startups or huge companies or both? ​

For great developers, the job market is great. We're partnering with startups (NewMatter), midsize companies (NationBuilder), and huge companies (NASA, Google).

P.S. All of those companies have graduates from MKS/HR already, with happy managers. I'm excited to provide a high quality option for students in LA, because I'm seeing the employer demand for high quality developers is certainly existent.

 

Thanks to Harsh for answering all of our questions! Visit their school pages to find out more about Hack Reactor or MakerSquare!

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