Tradecraft in San Francisco offers full time, 12-week immersive bootcamp programs for smart, motivated people who want to get into tech. Tradecraft offers courses in Sales & Business Development, Growth Marketing, Product Design and Engineering.
The program has been designed by industry-leading experts to ensure that students graduate with the depth and breadth of knowledge to make meaningful contributions from day one at a high-growth startup. Tradecraft students work with a large group of world-class mentors and a small group of inspiring peers. Students gain real work experience during the course of the program by working on projects for Silicon Valley companies.
Tradecraft’s unique approach to training means that graduates will have access to programs and resources until they get a job. Tradecraft offers ongoing mentorship and support to their alumni.
Recent tradecraft Reviews: Rating 4.98
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Business Development & Sales
The Business Development & Sales Track at Tradecraft is for individuals who want to learn how to drive startups forward. Members of this track often come in with entrepreneurial aspirations or are focused on joining a startup as an early business hire, where their critical value comes not just from the first customers or revenue that they generate, but also from their ability to accelerate the company toward product/market fit. The track is also well-suited for those who are interested in learning how to build partnerships with other customers, employees, organizations, or investors.
The Tradecraft Growth track offers it's members a deep dive into every step of the startup customer engagement funnel from user acquisition to retention to revenue and referral. While in the program, students do projects to explore various channels by working with practicing mentors in the field and participating in project for real startups.
The Product Design Track offers individuals with previous experience the opportunity develop and design real products alongside Silicon Valley startups. Curriculum and projects allow students students to build skills like: Customer Development User Research Wireframing Interaction Design User Interface Design Prototyping Content & Copy
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I completed Tradecraft back in April and was able to find work within my first month out of the program. Prior to it, I was working in the field of architecture for over five years. I came to it through recommendations from colleagues who similarly felt dissatisfied with the profession. I was deciding between a few different options but what makes Tradecraft stand apart from the rest are its learning-by-doing framework and supportive network of highly motivated and intelligent people.
Could I have made the career transition by myself? Yes, but it most likely would have taken substantially longer with many more obstacles. The Product Design program at Tradecraft was my 'north star' for this transitional phase, helping me filter through the sea of resources and tools – good and bad – out there and spend precious time focusing on building the skills and experiences that really matter. Unlike a traditional top-down academic environment, both peers and instructors are present to hold you accountable for your work, and vice-versa. That is the definition of a real community.
With Tradecraft, it doesn't end right when you land your first gig – in fact, that's just the beginning. The skills and mentality I gained in my three months there are continually used in my work today. I feel supported to seek advice from the community when needed, as well as attend guest lectures that keep me up to speed outside of everyday work. There is also a great sense of relief to know that if I ever feel dissatisfied with any position in the future that I have somewhere to go.
Design is a messy process of trial and error, but if you're willing to put in the work and open to learning from both successes and failures, then entering the startup world through Tradecraft will prove to be one of the best investments of your life.
I’ve researched (and even tried) other Product Design programs, but Tradecraft provides the ABSOLUTE BEST experience for the following reasons:
1. Cutting Edge Curriculum: As UX lead at Education, I’ve interviewed many candidates, read through many portfolios, and observed many whiteboard challenges. I can honestly say that Tradecraft prepares you with the tools to really stand out. Thanks to the amazing instructors that are real thought leaders in the design community, TC students know current tools and trends and that many people in the industry never heard of.
2. Real Experience: Tradecraft is set up so that you are working on real client projects right away. Look on any product designer description and the requirements will be filled from any TC project. You will learn amazing process, agile, dealing with difficult clients, and working in diverse teams. It’s set up just like a startup agency experience, but here the stakes are lower and so can you fail here, instead of in the real world.
3. Genuine help that never expires: The Tradecraft network is huge, powerful, and filtered for quality people. TC people are driven, talented, yet humble students who understand exactly what it’s like to struggle in your first role or land your first job after a career switch. Many alumni referred me to jobs, connected me with others in their network, and take time to help you proofread an article or critique a design. Tradecrafters just get it. It’s rare to find such a great network fully saturated of awesome people. Also, the career development person (and really everyone in the TC family) will help you at every stage of your career; getting your first job, struggling through your first job, negotiating your salary, and looking for your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th role. #FamilyFoLyf
I turned to Tradecraft to cultivate better professional opportunities for myself. I was already working professionally as a product manager, but feared that I would be pigeon-holed in the vertical I was in. Recruiters from that same vertical kept reaching out to me, but I wasn’t getting any leads for the top tier startups and tech companies I aimed for.
What TC helped me do:
Build a network, learn the hows and whys of networking in granular detail, way beyond just going to a bunch of meetups like I’d been doing for years
Cultivate the network I already had and help me get over mental roadblocks holding me back from reaching out to my existing network
Clarify what I wanted to get out of my career and what I hoped to gain from it, especially at this mid-level stage
Take on projects to identify my own professional strengths and weaknesses while working with teams of talented, motivated people
Get better at the skills I wanted to improve upon
What TC offers:
Cohorts of interesting, talented people who want more out of their careers- this alone was great in order for me to transition out of burnout, especially because you get to know them on a more consistent basis beyond jumping from weekend hackathon to weekend hackathon
Opportunities to connect with industry professionals who host intimate talks on campus, a great alternative to competing with mobs of people at 300-person meetups
Career coaching for the duration of your program and beyond; sooooo much more effective strategically than the career coach I had for a few sessions. Peers will also give you great feedback on your strengths that a standalone career coach might not have insights on
Yes, like everyone said- Tradecraft will not put in the work for you. I’ve considered other product design programs where the students churn out a templated portfolio and are spoon-fed the exact format to fill out, and this is NOT the place for half-baked templates. (I also checked their LinkedIn profiles and didn’t see them getting hired after graduating from their programs either…) You will grow as a designer and gravitate towards the work that YOU want to do, not get a rubber stamped outcome that’s the exact same as all of the other students.
I went through this program and attended weekly check-ins after I graduated, landing a role at a rapidly-growing tech company a few months after. The skills I gained in whiteboarding challenges and product design had a direct impact on my ability to get this role, where I use a blend of UX and product management skills for my daily responsibilities.
Less than 6 months after deciding to make a career switch, I began working as a product designer at a startup. I couldn't have made the switch so quickly without Tradecraft.
At TC, you get out of it what you put into it. If you want a structured program with lectures and projects to keep your learning on-track, TC is not for you. If you want to set your own path and have access to amazing design mentors and colleagues, TC is for you.
During my three months (plus an extra two weeks to finish out my last projects), I was able to build out a portfolio with four real client projects, get valuable design feedback, and create a practical strategy for the job hunt. Most importantly, I got to work with other highly-motivated people who challenged me to work harder and aim higher.
You can make the switch to product design without Tradecraft, but it will take longer and you won't have access to the active network of TCers who are quick to offer advice and referrals. You might not have a job directly out of TC (or even 6 months later), but TC will accelerate your career timeline.
If you're interested in working for -- or even starting -- a startup, product design is an invaluable skill. I had previously invested significant time and resources into a side-project-turned-startup. It was fun and I learned a lot, but I ultimately realized I still had a lot to learn and needed to accelerate that process.
I looked at product development/design programs. I was extremely underwhelmed by some of the more well-known options (I was an industry analyst in my previous life, and I did plenty of research). I went to information sessions, read reviews (like those here), and talked to some of the instructors and "admissions" folks.
The product design instructors at Tradecraft are not only extremely competent, but they are great (and full-time) teachers. Sometimes you get one but not the other. Some programs bring in industry experts, but who don't regularly teach. They are inconsistent and you have no idea what you'll get. Tradecraft product designers also work on real-world projects, which doesn't happen at most other programs.
Regardless of which program you choose, I'd advise you figure out what you want to get out of it in advance. You can't learn everything about a topic in three months, but the better you can articulate some ideal outcomes for yourself, the better off you'll be. Tradecraft provides an ideal environment -- with great education, community, and support -- to accomplish whatever it is you want.
Note: "job assistance" as a starred category seems a little misleading, at least to me. Some programs have leads from companies and help place people directly. That is not the case at TC. They help you figure out what you want long-term, then what short-term steps you probably want to take to get there, and finally how to head in that direction. It's as helpful as the effort you put into it, but it's not like a job-matching program.
I was in your shoes once. Fueled by an unsatisfying job, I researched and agonized over the "right" program to shell out a small fortune and risk a career and industry change into design and tech. I get it.
I chose TC because it was in SF (go where the opportunity is), small class size (my cohort was 7), precieved selectiveness (filter out non-motivated folks), comprehensive curriculum and real client work. But I graduated with a different understanding of why TC was the best choice so I'm going to give a run down of what I found most valuable in the curriculum, instructors, projects, networks and finish with some words of advice.
Curriculum: It's an intense amount of material to learn and practice in such a short time so ramping up on the basic technical skills before is key (eg Sketch). Once at the program you'll learn the approaches and frameworks in the design thinking process that is in my opinion the core of great product designers.
Instructors: Nick and Misha give great foundational courses in introducing nontech folks like myself into the SV culture and mindset. Zac, lead design instructor is one of the best teachers I've had while Ariane, the head of careers, is there for you every step of the way (she helped me prep for an interview at a last minutes notice). Thomas, the growth instructor is also excellent.
Projects: You'll be involved in several and they are a hit or miss depending on the group dynamic, client, and scope of work but at the same time that's reflective of real life. The value here is understanding through the experience your strengths/weaknesses, which part of design process you actually enjoy (research, UX, hifi?), and what type of role you are best suited for (lead, sublead, member?) etc...
Network: Aside from instructors, hands down the most valuable and greatest resource. I cold emailed and drank countless coffees talking to 20+ alumni. Folks from the earliest TC days were happy to chat and dispel their wisdom and there's a sense of community and support I can't see any comparable program having. I 100% would not have the role I have now without the network.
1. TC is a kitchen. You can shape the program to fit you. You want to part time intern and part time TC? Go for it. You hate sitting in lectures and just want to network your way to a job? It's been done. You interested in both growth and design? Or design and BD? You can. Just be aware of the tradeoffs and whether this approach is going to get you what you want. I realized for eg I wanted to be a PM and not a designer so I focused on parts of the curriculum relevant and sat out on others.
2. If you're obsessed with a product, company, person, industry, problem, TC is the perfect place to work on a project you either start yourself or bring in. You'll have the support of instructors, peers and low downside if you fail. I can't emphasize enough the importance of owning your projects and work.
So yea, stop reading and apply already. This is a commitment and an investment in your potential future self that's worth it.
Joining Tradecraft was the best decision I ever made for myself. I graduated TC in September 2017 and landed a job as a product designer a couple months later. I am 100% sure I could not have done it without the help and support of TC. What sets Tradecraft apart from other programs is the real world experience gained from working with startups in the Bay Area and the amazing community which includes staff, students and mentors. Even after graduation, the staff is still available to help you through your first, second, third job etc. in your new career. Unlike other programs, TC really values fostering a sense of community, even after graduation.
As many other reviewers have mentioned, you really get what you put into it. TC provides the environment and tools to help you succeed but it’s up to you to do as little or as much as you want with it. The real learning curve starts in your new job but TC gave me the foundations to build upon. I am an extremely shy and introverted person but with the help and guidance of TC, I learned to send cold emails, ask strangers out for coffee, and became comfortable with design interviews; things I never thought I was capable of doing. If you told me a year ago I’d become a design consultant at the company I’m now at, I would have laughed (and then cried) in your face. TC literally changed my life.
The BEST part about TC is the people you’ll meet. It’s amazing to be surrounded by people in the same boat as you, with similar interests and all trying to achieve similar goals. When you go through the highs and lows of learning a new skill and job searching together, it’s hard not to become close. I’ve learned so much from my peers and remain close with them. I took a job in my home state but still go back to SF every few weeks to visit the friends I met in the program.
As I write this review, I am more than 6,000 miles away from home. In July 2017 I moved to San Francisco to go through Tradecraft and get a job in a Silicon Valley startup. I had the chance to chat with two people who people made the same move I was making and had achieved the goal I was after. All I knew, was that I was going to have to work harder than ever to make it a reality. Nothing more.
At Tradecraft, nothing is handed to you, it is all earned. In these 12 weeks, you do not only learn (in my case) Growth Marketing, but you learn to navigate through startup culture, you learn about yourself, and you find out what you are made of.
- Expect to go through a well-rounded Growth curriculum that will allow you to to take on that role upon completion of the program.
- Expect to put yourself in uncomfortable positions, that will make you question what you are doing, constantly.
- Expect to surround yourself with amazing people that want you to succeed and accomplish your goals.
I left Tradecraft with incredible connections, friendships, and mentors. I was given the tools that I needed to put myself in a position to win as the first Growth hire in a Series A startup.
Remember, at Tradecraft, nothing is handed to you. You get what you give. If you show that you are willing to work, that you are open to being advised, coached, and mentored, you will be putting yourself in a great position. You will have the support you need to go through these 12 weeks, as well as the support you need post Tradecraft. You’ll join an incredible community that will stand behind you when you most need it.
I went to two onsite bootcamps and one online bootcamp until I ended up at Tradecraft.
After attending all of them, I was still wandering around lost and unsure of my future. Although my time at these other camps were valuable and contributed to where I'm at today, it was Tradecraft that truly sealed the deal.
Tradecraft provided me the tools, the knowledge, the people, and opportunities that I couldn't have got anywhere else. I think the most helpful thing that boosted my resume and portfolio is the real world experience that I got from clients partnered with Tradecraft. Being in SF and working to solve problems that various startups were facing gave me unparalleled work experience that I could not have gotten anywhere else.
I moved to the Bay Area in mid-2016 to work on a startup idea but about 6 months in, I decided not to pursue it. This experience taught me a couple of key things: 1) Coming from a non-tech background, I needed to build some hard skills which I lacked and 2) I needed to build a better network and support system being new to San Francisco.
Around the same time, I heard about Tradecraft through a friend who had just graduated from the program. With his recommendation, I decided to take the leap and applied for the Growth track. After completing the program and taking some time to reflect, I've got to say that Tradecraft has exceeded my expectations.
Overall, the experience was incredible. I've made some amazing connections and met people that I can truly call friends. There's something about being thrown in the deep-end for 12 weeks to figure out what your goals are, what you should aim for etc that teaches you a lot about yourself.
As far as curriculum goes, you get a well-rounded understanding of growth and the various aspects you need to be aware of. It's also an opportunity to think about which parts of growth and marketing you find interesting that you may want to specialize in. However, the most valuable part of the curriculum was working on real projects with real startups. This is a great way not only to put your skills to practical use, but also building your leadership skills by working on and leading teams. I also ended up doing the BD & Sales track, although to me the most valuable parts of this track were what I would called Startups 101. The name of the track, in that sense, is a bit misleading and is much more than just BD and sales.
Thomas is a fun, engaging instructor and most importantly, he was always available to help clarify something you might have trouble with or push you to make the most of your potential. For BD & Sales, Misha made the classes super interesting with the readings he assigned beforehand, all of which are valuable and useful far beyond the 12 weeks of the program. He also recommends several frameworks that he's found useful in his own experience as a founder, which unlocks your ability to think about BD, sales and startups in a more structured way.
In terms of job assistance, Ariane puts things into perspective right from week 1 and its clear that you need to start thinking about jobs well before the end of the 12 weeks. She also helps you hone your story, be aware of your weaknesses and offers the opportunity to practice interviews with her so you are well prepared when the time comes. I was also lucky enough to meet my future employer at a mentor talk hosted at Tradecraft, another invaluable part of the program (which you get to attend even after the 12 weeks are complete).
Ultimately, I went in looking to gain valuable, hard skills, and build a network I trusted and left with much, much more!
FINAL NOTE: If you are looking for a program that lays it all out on a platter, Tradecraft is probably not for you. But if you are willing to roll up your sleeves, put in the work, and enjoy the grind, then Tradecraft is the perfect ecosystem to make you thrive and prepare for startup life.
I am soooo beyond thrilled that I decided to enroll in the Tradecraft program!
I graduated from the TC growth track a few months back after starting my career in sales. I knew I wanted to shift from being on the phone all day to the more analytical strategy side of business and TC was the conduit I chose to help me with the transition.
Investing in my future with Tradecraft was not a decision I made lightly, but it ended up as one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is serious about wanting to shift their career to a related field in start-ups and motivated to put in the work to enable their success.
As a career switcher looking to prepare myself for the new direction I was heading was, I mainly decided to enroll because I wanted to gain consultative experience working with real start ups on growth projects. My goal was to gain real world experience and credibility when speaking as to why companies should entertain the idea of hiring me for an analytics based growth role. The projects that original fueled my interest were great but merely a sliver of the amazing program TC has to offer. TC teaches you to navigate stressful schedules on short notice, to network and publish effectively to enhance your career profile, to learn what you need quickly and to iterate on your learning even quicker, to work effectively and efficiently in diverse groups and much, much more. At Tradecraft, you learn the tools and skills and gain the support to be successful in all aspects of life.
Tradecraft's goal is to prepare each and every student for the next step in their particular career journey in order to get them on the right foot for where you want to be 5-10 years from now. I can confidently say TC set me up to succeed in my goals and accelerated my timeline to have me on track to get where I want to be faster than I had even hoped.
The TC community is one of the most amazing groups I have ever been a part of. Other Tradecrafters are spread throughout the tech world and are always quick to jump at the opportunity to help others involved. Everything at TC is taught to you in terms of value and everyone works hard to create the most value possible for the collaborative network. From your cohort members to other students attending at the same time as you to all graduates and the whole TC staff, everyone is there to enable each other's success and continuously take the network to the next level.
Because of the TC network, I was connected to and able to land the best opportunity I could have imagined after graduation in a role that I am excited to show up for on a daily basis. I couldn't be happier or more grateful for what the program has done for me and my career.
Special shout outs to Misha, Russ, Thomas, Nick, Ariane and the rest of the TC crew for creating such a special place that has meant so much to so many :)
As cheesy as my headline is, that is how I feel about Tradecraft. I came into the program already having startup experience but I wanted to get to the next level fast. I had been working in operations/logistics and "sexy" SV companies but I wanted to ideally start my own company. I signed up for the growth track and on day one told Misha I had an idea for a company I had been playing with. He pushed me to pursue it immediately and the rest became history.
My entire TC cohort and many of the people around became engrossed in helping me make this dream a reality. People I never knew before volunteered hours to help me build a website, landing pages, and proper content. Ariane, Misha, Russ, and Nick spent countless hours giving me feedback and giving me the support I needed when I wanted to give up.
I made it a goal to network aggressively and met 2-3 people a week through the TC network. This helped tremendously as these people have become my family here in SF and my sounding boards. After a month of graduating, I honestly decided I didn't want to pursue the startup idea but I had multiple job offers lined up. It's not that TC put them on my lap, they just gave me the tools and support to make it happen.
If you're stuck on the money part, let it go. You'll make the money back two fold.
I finished the program about two months ago now. I enrolled in the growth marketing program and took some product design classes. Here is my background:
After I left my job as a product marketing manager at a game company, I had to leave the country because of my visa situation. I was debating whether to leave right away or spent all my savings on enrolling in a bootcamp program. I was looking at Tradecraft versus Hack Reactor. I know everyone wants to be a coder now, I was no different. However, I know I couldn't see myself coding, so I chose to broaden my skill and get to be part of this community.
My overall experience has been amazing. I've met new friends in the program who have various background, but now want to break into tech startup. Everyone is so talented, and they work hard to achieve their goals, but one thing that stood out is we never forget to think about how we could help others along the way. Throughout this amazing network, I also got to know a few alumni who are now my mentors.
In terms of curriculum, I didn't gain much out of the growth marketing because I already have some experience with it. But Thomas (growth lead) was a wonderful resource for you to dive deeper into the area that you're interested in. I learned a lot more from product design program because it is something challenging that I had to push myself to go through. Zac and Jake (design leads) are very helpful.
Because my goal wasn't to stay in Silicon Valley right after graduation, I didn't benefit much from the job search process. However, this is not to mention that I got to know the co-founders of the company that I'm working at right now in Indonesia through Misha (co-founder of Tradecraft).
Throughout the program, you have to push yourself. It is just like a startup. It's not much structure. You get what you put in. Good luck!
I finished the Tradecraft growth track about 6 weeks ago. I'm in my mid-twenties and have had a few jobs that I fell into mostly by chance through social connections. They weren't bad jobs or companies, and had I been more proactive and intentional about pursuing career goals, I probably could have found great success at those companies.
But I wasn't, and I didn't -- I was frustrated with my work and didn't really understand why. All I knew was I needed a change.
After leaving my previous role and making (and breaking) several new life plans, including living abroad and applying to MBA programs, I stumbled upon this exact webpage and read reviews about Tradecraft.
On one hand, I wondered why anyone would pay such a high price for a three month program when there were online programs with roughly equivalent curricula for a fraction of the cost or none at all. On the other, I was struck by the almost universally perfect reviews -- the online programs couldn't match that.
Anyone considering grad school along with Tradecraft will realize that the price is roughly equivalent, but with far less commitment and time between investment and realized benefit. My fear with an MBA was finding out 2 years and $200k later that it was the wrong move. The fact is, if you want to make an investment in your career, it will cost you significant time and money. In that sense, Tradecraft is like a condensed version of grad school.
But, the emphasis of Tradecraft is very different from a typical grad school or any other three month bootcamp. The curriculum checks a box to ensure that you know enough to get the job you want (hence the lower rating). Tradecraft's real thesis is that you'll get where you want to be if you:
1) Define clear career goals for years down the road, then reverse engineer it to find out what you should work on today and tomorrow to achieve that.
2) Cultivate a network and provide value to that network - those people will help you get to your next opportunity on the road to achieving your long term goals.
3) Practice at full speed with real client projects as you learn these subjects.
That sounds simple and intuitive and can even be accomplished without a structured program, but is more easily said than done. Tradecraft greases the rails for you to build on those ideas (*note: it's still on you to do the work - there's not a lot of hand-holding here) with instructors to answer questions and discuss concepts, career coaching to encourage and guide you, and a network of hundreds of current students and grads to meet, collaborate with, and keep one another accountable.
Coming from out of state, that was crucial in my decision to enroll in Tradecraft and ultimately stay in the Bay Area. The people I've met through the program are some of my best friends (and my primary social group out here), and everyone I've met has been likeminded and ambitious in pursuing their career goals, which helps enormously in staying on track. Tradecrafters are often found at the office working late into the night, but keep the social atmosphere welcoming and fun -- you might find these same people at Temple nightclub on Friday night.
And now, after job searching for several weeks, with the majority of my promising job leads coming from the TC network, I am working in growth marketing at an awesome company with several other TC alumni.
I might have found my way to this position and mentality after wandering on my own for a while longer, but I doubt I could have done so in just three months in a new city without the guidance of Tradecraft. In a couple more months, my newfound (doubled) income will pay off my tuition debt. But, Tradecraft's valuable network, mentors, and other resources will continue to be available to me into perpetuity, as long as I make the effort to be available and valuable to them as well.
If that kind of network and experience sounds helpful to your career, I strongly encourage you to apply and have a conversation with Nick about Tradecraft.
I had been researching programs to help me get into design as a full-time career. Previously, I was working in sales at tech startup in SF but I couldn’t see myself doing it long term. I heard about Tradecraft at a Design Details Meetup. It winded up being the best professional decision I’ve made since moving to the bar area. Here’s why I had a great experience:
My projects at Tradecraft were activities I could actually use in my portfolio. I had the opportunity to work on real problems with engineers and founders. I learned how to manage a team of designers. All of this was critical for landing a job post-TC.
Having played around with a few online curriculums, I determined that I wanted a full-time, immersive program to help make this career move a reality. At Tradecraft, there was enough traditional class work to have an understanding of my craft, but there were also tons of supplemental materials for a deeper dive on certain topics.
The small cohort sizes helped me build a relationship with multiple members of the Tradecraft team. They really helped me understand what I can do to provide value and feel good about my career and my story. In addition to the staff, I was surrounded by a bunch of really smart driven people both in my cohort, and in the cohorts before and after my time there. I still lean on the community for feedback and support.
I hope you got something out of this review, but as I look to the other reviews on this site, I feel like I’m echoing a lot of what was already said. In closing, if you are seriously considering Tradecraft, I hope you are willing to invest the time and energy into getting the most out of this program. Do as much work as you can ahead of time. Just like anything in life, you get out of it what you put into it. With Tradecraft, there’s no limit to the value you can extract if you’re willing to do the work!
By the end of my senior year of college I knew that I wanted to be designing experiences for users. I was intrigued by the tech scene in the Bay Area and wanted to be part of the innovation that was happening there daily. While graduating with a liberal arts degree gave me all the desirable “soft skills”, what I lacked was the marketable “hard skills” that would land me a junior level design role. I signed up for Tradecraft after doing a bit of research but still not really knowing what I was signing up for.
It was a dive into the deep end. I was a new grad, with work experience that extended no further than random summer internships and on-campus tutoring jobs, looking to take on a highly technical role at a startup. Tradecraft was the transformative experience I needed: not only did I become a stronger designer, I was able to confidently talk about my design skills and understand myself as an employee and coworker on a deeper level.
Tradecraft gives you the tools, resources, and mentorship to excel. I now have the most amazing mentors, friends, and support network. Just a short two months after graduating from Tradecraft I found myself on a three person design team at a startup doing way more than I ever could have dreamed of right out of college.
I was a graphic/visual designer for both marketing and product teams throughout my career. I decided to invest in myself and "level up" by focusing on UX/product design. I researched a lot of programs out here in the Bay Area and heard about TC from a friend. After reading reviews and speaking to the staff, I knew this was the right move for me. As soon as I was accepted to the program, I quit my full-time job and went all in -- I've never looked back since. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity.
Here are some key points that reflect my time at Tradecraft:
- Curriculum: The curriculum is no joke. The material covered is thorough -- a deep dive into areas of product design that is needed to fully understand the process. It's intense and a lot of work, but necessary in order to be successful and make your time here worthwhile.
- Client Work: I love the idea of gaining experience in what you just learned. At Tradecraft, students are encouraged to be a part of projects that you can use in your portfolio. It's a great way to learn about working with a team and clients throughout the entire design process.
- Community: From track leads and mentors to the students, nothing compares to the amount of support and love from the TC community. My cohort is my second family/tribe. We remain close, even after graduation.
This review focuses specifically on the value I received from Tradecraft as a student who transitioned from a seemingly unrelated job and industry into product design and tech.
TC is awesome, and I could wax on forever about the experience generally, but I want to be useful to the folks like me who sat wringing their hands for months, waffling on whether a non-artsy business strategy person could transition into UX/product design. SPOILER: you definitely can, and TC is a great way to do it.
Here are the things I found most useful in the context of career transition:
1. Client work that is relevant and gets shipped: Employers care about this. Being able to point to a real, functioning product on your portfolio and in interviews makes you more credible, especially when you don't have a design-related job title on your resume.
2. Great curriculum and instructors: Class sizes are small, which means that you can (and should) really take advantage of the expertise of the excellent instructors and staff. This won't be the case with a lot of online and other, larger offline design courses. This type of close instruction was vital to me as a someone who came in knowing very little about design.
3. Strong emphasis on building your network: TC pushes you to meet meaningful milestones in building your network. The mentorship opportunities and the career development curriculum get students out of the studio and into coffee shops, chatting with people in the industry. This is SO IMPORTANT when you're looking for a job, especially if you're coming from a different industry without many tech or design contacts. I've made "networking" (i.e., true relationship building) into a habit that I'll carry with me forever.
4. Community: Transitioning into a new career is hard. Don't get me wrong, for all the good stuff I have to say, I definitely cannot say that it was easy. The community of support that TC provides was there through the good times and the hard ones. They're there to celebrate the wins, to commiserate over the losses, to share ideas and articles, to practice whiteboarding challenges and interviews, and to go on long bike rides. The community is dope. That's valuable no matter what.
The first thing you learn in TC is that it is a kitchen and not a restaurant. Before any mentor can help you, you need to have a clear goal of what you are trying to achieve. The program is then shaped by your goals and ambition. I echo what others say in their review: make sure you figure out what you want to get out of it first before you dive in. This way, you can better tailor your experience.
Besides the curriculum, the mentors and the network are the most valuable assets of the program! They provide great advice and guidance whenever possible. Don't be afraid to send that cold email or attend this networking event by yourself. It will help you get to where you want to be!
One year ago, I was unsatisfied with my career, and I knew I had to make a change. I was working in marketing and wanted to make the switch to product. More specifically, I wanted to work in product at a behavioral health startup. After thinking through my options, I decided that studying product design would be a step in the right direction. I chose Tradecraft because of its reputation (it was recommended to me by an expert in the digital health space), my interactions with its alumni (several were happy to hop on a call with me), and its location (the Bay Area has a large number of behavioral health startups).
On my final day at Tradecraft, just three months after I relocated to SF from NYC, I was offered a product management role at a behavioral health startup, where I am working now -- and loving it.
The greatest value Tradecraft provided me was a structure to do the things I knew I should do. I spent three months as part of a group of motivated people who were taking similar risks to reinvent themselves. Being in that environment gave me the momentum and social context to work hard and take action. It also gave me a platform for networking and outreach, which was the most important factor in getting my current role.
A key differentiating factor in Tradecraft is its incorporation of client projects and the ability for students to source these projects for themselves. When I first arrived in SF, I reached out to a variety of behavioral health startups, and one of them agreed to work with me as part of a client project. This enabled me to work directly with the startup, gaining a deep understanding of their product and customers. When a product management role became available, I was a logical candidate, having already proven myself over several months. Many other Tradecraft alumni have had similar experiences. The Tradecraft Alumni network is also a strong differentiating factor. Almost without exception, Alumni were happy to grab coffee or hop on a phone call to give me advice and mentorship, and many Tradecraft alumni have found full-time jobs from these relationships.
The one area that could be improved is the curriculum. I expected to walk away after three months with a more rigorous set of hard skills. What I did learn, I likely could have learned on my own. It may be unreasonable to expect to gain a significant level of hard skills after such a short time, but I think Tradecraft could definitely improve the level of organization and intensity in this area. That said, I did leave with foundational awareness of the various areas of product design (conscious incompetence) and the ability to learn more after the program was over.
All in all, Tradecraft was an important stepping stone in what has been a very positive and fulfilling career transition. I would highly recommend that anyone considering a transition into product design or management consider Tradecraft. However, it is important to have reasonable expectations and know that your success is very much impacted by your own initiative, effort, and as is often the case, a little bit of luck.
Tradecraft was a game changer for me. I had wanted to switch careers into Product Design for some time, but never found the momentum or the guidance learning on my own.
- design instructors who put together a comprehensive design course
- projects with early stage startups to build my portfolio
- career guidance on each step of the interview phase, from coffee meetings to interview prep.
- and most importantly, the network of people. From our design events with seasoned designers to the new design students in our program, you will find a close knit community.
I discovered Tradecraft (TC) completely out of the blue while listening to a podcast about entrepreneurship. When people say timing is everything, I believe it, especially through this experience.
At that time I was closing an e-commerce company I had started. I was looking for my next move and considering a multitude of options. In the midst of that, I found out about TC. I wasn't sure what to expect and was initially attracted to it because of the network it could provide me as a newbie in SF. My first meeting was with Misha. I told him that I was looking to get into a startup, but wasn't sure how. I had a very non-traditional background and a lot of "startup" skills, but mastery in none. I didn't even know what half the job titles meant or if I qualified for them. He suggested I do the Growth Marketing and Business Development tracks. And so I did.
I would say my experience at TC was a rollercoaster both personally and professionally. The curriculum is good for people who have no background in growth. I came from delegating tasks to actually understanding what the people I hired to do were doing, and it was a LOT! I constantly felt like there was something more I should know, learn, and try. The projects are what you and your team make of them. I jumped on as many as I could, even if it was just to observe. Because of that, my projects touched everything we learned in curriculum. Business development is a great track for anyone, especially those interested in entrepreneurship because it teaches you what makes a successful startup, how to understand your customers and the process of building a company based on value. Of course, it also touches on a number of purely sales-focused skills.
On a personal level, let's just say that TC will test you as a person as much as it will test your skills, so be ready for it! In the end, everything will turn out how you want it to no matter how much you think it won't.
And I can't forget to mention the awesome TC tribe! I came to TC for a network and a job at a great startup, and I got both through the friends and connections I made. This community could help me with pretty much anything in my life. I made life-long friends, had inspiring conversations, got intro'd to great people, and helped people in ways I never thought I could or would. So, if you're considering coming to TC, my advice is to figure out what you want from it, take steps to make it happen and it will.
It happens more often than you think, and at any stage of life: dissatisfaction with the status quo. Sometimes you arrive at this point knowing what's caused it, ready to seek change. Sometimes you might not be so lucky, leaving behind a litany of choices the have defined your windy road. But that's okay, that's what Tradecraft is here for.
Tradecraft is the place you stop by on your journey down the beaten path that gives you a chance to really take a good look at yourself and your goals to find out what the best next direction for you is. It's a stop for travelers, not a destination. It is as much a journey about getting to know yourself and your north star as it is about growing a new set of skills to get you where you want to go.
At the center of that is your own responsibility and choices, you take them and you make them. Wherever you're trying to go, whatever you're trying to do, Tradecraft is the place where you'll find home, family, direction, and certainty in the face of ambiguity. All you need is to equip your willpower and make the decision to open the door.
Narrative description aside, I've made tons of friends here even as a huge introvert. The network is amazing, the instructors always push you with a gentle but stern hand, and the work experience is invaluable. The cost of the program is almost more for you to really make the decision to commit, and it's worth it compared to alternatives when looking at cost efficiency and time.
Misha and instructors can be an amazing advocate for you, and Ariane (head of careers) will be your bastion. I continue to keep in touch, and will for a very long time as the strength of the network grows and takes over the world, one amazing mind at a time.
Best way to get the most out of this experience: challenge your limits, come with a goal in mind (but stay adaptive), bring that sheer willpower that thirsts for more, and make it count. It's up to you to bring it.
Our latest on tradecraft
When you think of your next tech job, does “Digital Marketer” come to mind? It should; a solid understanding of marketing, combined with analytical and a few tech skills, can lead to a fulfilling, evolving career. By 2021, US companies are expected to spend $129 billion on Digital Marketing investments. With the increase in marketing buys over the last few years, experts have forecasted that digital will eventually account for 50% of total advertising spend. So what is digital marketing, and exactly what skills do you need to be successful? Check out our Guide to Digital Marketing Bootcamps to find which types of jobs and salaries you could land in digital marketing, the skills you need to excel in the field, and the best Digital Marketing Bootcamps today.Continue Reading →
Adam attended Tradecraft’s 12-week growth marketing bootcamp in San Francisco, with a mission to shake up his skills in tech. Although he had a ton of tech experience with A/B testing and experimentation, he realized he couldn’t land the marketing career that he wanted. Read more about his thoughts on learning in a bootcamp classroom, why he used Tradecraft to take hold of his own destiny, and how he was hired in a Paid Acquisition role at Udemy. Plus, Adam gives us a great overview of modern growth marketing!
Tell me your pre-Tradecraft story. What was your career and educational background before you went to Tradecraft?
I’m originally from San Francisco, so I moved back after college because most of the jobs in San Francisco were in Tech- my goal was to get my foot in the door at a company. I worked in technology sales selling advertising space for about a year and a half at a large company. When I decided I wanted to work at a much smaller company, I joined Optimizely, which is an A/B testing platform. They’re now a really successful software company, but I joined when they were really small. I started with sales, which snowballed to getting exposure to a bunch of different departments. I transferred to the Optimizely Amsterdam office to train and hire our customer success management team.
As you can see, I had a good amount of experience in tech, but not in the role that I wanted to pursue. I reached a point where I realized that I like helping customers do A/B testing , but it wasn't necessarily something that I was really passionate about. I most enjoyed A/B testing and user acquisition, so I started to look for jobs, but kept hitting a roadblock where companies needed to see many years of experience before they’d even consider my resume.
Experience is something that tech companies value but will rarely give. After a few months of sending out my resume, I decided to figure out how I could control my own destiny. One of my options was to get that experience from a bootcamp.
Which track did you take at Tradecraft?
I took the Growth Marketing track. I experienced two types of learning at Tradecraft. One is extremely tactical and skill-based. That means you’ll learn how to do an SEO audit of a website, how to run an ad campaign, you will learn about content marketing. This is very topic-based, extremely specific skills - the things you need to know before you can move on to a job in that industry.
The second thing that I learned was much more surprising and less expected: spiritual learning. I looked at myself, thought about what I am actually good at, passionate about, and what I wanted to become good at. These are much deeper, spiritual questions that are so much more tied to your success after the program than learning how to do an SEO audit.
Those are things that I think get lost in a bootcamp. Some bootcamps are just like "We'll teach you how to learn Java, we'll teach you this;" but they don't necessarily bring up things like, "You can know all the languages you want, but you must learn how to interview, how to position yourself, and how to really make sure you're ready for the next step; those are equally important to your success." Aside from in the track, you learn all the things about growth marketing that you could ever want to know from email marketing, SEO, paid acquisition, and A/B testing. You also get this really important piece about answering questions about yourself and what's going to make you successful long term.
You mentioned that you researched a few other bootcamps- why did you choose Tradecraft?
I had found a lot of bootcamps to be factories. They just grew to a point where it's like they're becoming a university and taking away from the core bootcamp experience, which is really one-to-one mentorship and a tight-knit group of people.
At the time I was researching, there weren't a lot of bootcamps that specifically offered Growth Marketing courses. And particularly for a course that's really expensive, I knew that I needed a lot of mentorship and individual attention. That's why going to a small bootcamp like Tradecraft was really important for me.
What really struck me about Tradecraft was the first call that I had with Nick, one of the six staff members. I liked that I got to speak to the people who teach at Tradecraft. Everything they said fit really well with what I believe, particularly how Tradecraft is meant to be a guide in your experience. You really will get out what you put in. It seemed like something I wanted to join, so I took that leap of faith and joined Tradecraft.
What skills were you hoping to get out of Tradecraft when you started?
From Optimizely, I already had a pretty deep understanding of experimentation, which is a huge driving force behind growth. What I was missing was an understanding of marketing. Content marketing, email marketing, and paid acquisition are all skills that you need to actually grow your business and get people to your website. There are many different ways that you can go about doing that marketing.
Tradecraft was really good about honing in on the four or five most high-impact marketing tools that you could learn. Those things included:
- Paid Acquisition, which is a tactic that almost every company in Silicon Valley uses.
- Content Marketing, which is now one of the most popular ways that marketers are getting traffic to their website.
- Email, which means understanding messaging and segmentation.
- Optimizing the user journey
Did you consider getting a degree in Growth Marketing? Or getting an MBA?
It's not that it wasn’t an option for me to go back to college; it’s not an option period. There are no universities teaching relevant digital marketing strategies that companies are using here in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. This knowledge is not being circulated through traditional universities; that’s why tech conferences, meetups, and blog posts are so important.
That’s accompanied by the fact that a degree would take a really long time and be incredibly expensive.
I did think about an MBA, but I already have a lot of experience in technology, so I didn't need an MBA on my resume. That's not what was preventing me from getting a job. What was preventing me from getting a job was skills-based learning, and knowing the skills that I actually needed to perform that role. That's why I went with Tradecraft, because I would learn tangible skills and work with real companies while I was there. I was able to go back into the world with these new skills, coupled with my experience, in order to be competitive in the job market.
How did you justify the cost of Tradecraft?
When I started doing my analysis, I thought, "How much money and energy have I spent investing in myself?" When you look at it from that perspective, investing $14,000 into your own mind and skillset is a really easy sell to make internally. It's really about pulling that money out of the bank and back into me. Fortunately, I was in a position to do that. There were people at Tradecraft from a lot of different backgrounds with a ton of different financial situations, and I know that it was able to work for everyone.
What was the rest of your cohort like at Tradecraft? Was it diverse?
The people in my class were arguably my favorite part of Tradecraft. From a gender perspective, we’re around 40% female and 60% male. There were people from a lot of different backgrounds, racially and in their experience. Our class wasn’t just techy people or recent grads. The average person in our class was a few years out of college, with some work experience, looking to pivot their career.
What was the learning experience like at Tradecraft? Tell us about a typical day!
Tradecraft is a three-month program, with the first and last two weeks focused on career development. During the first two weeks, you’re trying to answer questions like what kind of job we want, what kind of environment and culture we would be successful in, and what location we want to work in. These bigger questions are typically answered when interviewing, which is the wrong time to answer them!
After career development, you enter what's called Curriculum. Each week you're learning a different topic. For example, the first week will be an SEO week, and you will have a series of lectures on SEO, then you will have a project to do for that topic. If it is SEO week, you'll have to do an SEO audit by the end of the week on a company of your choice and submit that back to the instructor for review. It's very different than a conventional class with 3-6 months of classes, a mid-term and a final. Tradecraft gives a bit of lecture to give you the groundwork, but then a lot of the learning is done by getting into the weeds and getting your hands dirty. You'll continue for 11 more weeks with that same cadence on different topics.
During the last two weeks, you go back into career development, but this time it's much more tactical. You've learned these skills, you've answered these bigger questions, and now it's time to look at your resume and get introduced to these companies that you said you've been interested in for the last 11 weeks. Tradecraft wants to build that framework for you, so that when you hit launch, the end of the program, you'll have all the pieces you need to be able to go out and “execute,” which means finding the right job for you. That's the end goal.
Did you have enough support from instructors?
Each cohort varies in size and makeup. There were about eight students and one instructor.
What type of hours were you putting in at Tradecraft?
We had a daily stand up at 9am and I would get home at between 6pm and 7pm. Depending on the day or the workload, it could vary. I actually reached out to companies to help them with their business, which could mean writing a new drip campaign to send to new users or could mean designing a paid acquisition strategy for them. Those two things will have a much different time investment.
It’s all about perspective. There are some stories on Course Report about other bootcamps as a whole that say "Be prepared to say goodbye to your friends and be under a rock for three months." I really didn't find that to be the case at all. When I was spending a lot of time at Tradecraft, I was investing in myself and taking the time to do it the right way and not take a shortcut. One thing I can definitely say is whatever time I did spend at Tradecraft, was well spent.
On any given day at Tradecraft, there are 10 or 15 different things that you can do. You can go to a marketing meetup and network, go to a speech that they're hosting internally, work on a project, go to class, etc. You have to actually prioritize what you want to learn and be efficient with your time. I think your time commitment depends on where you're at and your maturity as a professional.
Did you have a favorite project or assignment that you worked on during Tradecraft?
I brought in Kiva, which is a micro-lending site for developing countries. In the initial meeting, they described their business and some of the challenges that they were facing. Then together as a team, we gave a proposal of what we wanted to do for them and executed on that plan. My team worked specifically on an advertising and influencer marketing strategy for their new business, Kiva Zip, which is micro-lending in the US. We crushed the goals that they wanted and it was considered a really, really great success.
About three weeks ago, Kiva announced that they had launched Kiva Zip out of Beta, and we saw that the groundwork that we laid really enhanced the business.
Were all the students in your class working on the same projects with nonprofits?
No, the projects were across a wide spectrum- from comic book apps to e-commerce shops. It depended on what the Tradecraft student was really interested in learning. For me, I was really interested in doing user acquisition paid ads, and really liked Kiva as well. I just married those two, and it made sense for me. You can also sign up to help other projects, so you won't just get exposure to your own projects.
Okay, what are you up to now Adam?
I'm a Senior Marketing Associate, Paid Acquisition at Udemy, which is an online learning platform. I'm doing paid acquisition, which is very much what I was learning. I'm also using the A/B testing skills from my last career, which I pieced together with my new skills to create a new role. That was my game plan from the start.
Did you find your job at Udemy through Tradecraft?
I graduated Tradecraft and a week later was signing my final offer. Then a week or two after that, I'm sitting down in my chair at Udemy. I ultimately found Tradecraft extremely valuable because I got introduced to Udemy through my Tradecraft instructor.
What is your day-to-day like as a Marketing Associate in Paid Acquisition?
For the first three months, I was working in a pretty standard growth marketing paid acquisition role: I had a budget and channels and I had to acquire users. Due to my experience at Optimizely with optimization, Udemy asked me to step up and do A/B testing on the site. My role has shifted in the last few weeks to working a lot with product engineering and design to build A/B tests for experiments to run on the Website.
The growth team is about 30 people. Now that I'm in this optimization role, I've shifted to where I'm actually working with two engineers, a designer and reporting to the Director of Product.
What has been the biggest challenge in your career change so far?
A bootcamp like Tradecraft is great at getting you from 0 to 1 really quickly. But like any job or any profession, you don't end at 1. You have to jump from 1 to 100; you’ll learn new terms, platforms, knowledge of your business and of your market. There is a steep learning curve in order to be a positive member of my company and drive a lot of value to Udemy.
Tradecraft really protects you against this, but I have friends who participated in other coding bootcamps who didn’t learn that there are no shortcuts. You're not going to become a full web developer in 12 weeks. There's just too much material and too many hours required. Tradecraft positions their offer by saying, “We will get you into the door and in a chair at a company, but you control your own destiny, and it's up to you to drive that ship with help from us along the way."
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about going to a bootcamp to change their career?
Like I said, a bootcamp is not a shortcut. It's going to be a lot of work, and it's going to be very challenging both personally and professionally. Then, once you get a job, it is only just beginning.
I used Tradecraft really tactically in my career. I had a certain exposure to tech, a certain type of experience, and I needed Tradecraft to slightly pave the way, acquire new skills, and accomplish what I wanted to accomplish.
Be really thoughtful about signing up for a bootcamp because you will only get what you put into the program. If it's not something that you really believe in and are driven to, you won't get to the finish line. I think what's really dangerous about bootcamps is that people join them without knowing their career endgame. It’s super important to make that investment with your eyes wide open and being really honest with yourself.
Tradecraft does a really brilliant job of weeding unqualified people out in the application process, but some of the other bootcamps seem to be trying to get as many people in the door as possible. Tradecraft is trying to aim for quality over quantity, and that's massively important.