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.
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Recent tradecraft Reviews: Rating 4.98
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
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.
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.
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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.
Joining Tradecraft has been probably one of the best decision that I have ever made in my life. I joined the Growth track last September, and from the first day there you could feel how this program was going to be a challenging and intense experience, not only because the quality of the curriculum is top-notch, but also because every day I was surrounded by incredibly smart, self-driven and friendly people.
Is hard to write a description that summarizes my experience there, but in a few words, Tradecraft was a personal and professional growth experience.
I'm a 100% sure that I'm a better and more complete person after the experience I had at Tradecraft.
Tradecraft's product design program was an amazing 3 months that helped me land a full-time role as a product designer. I was in the program from November 2016 - February 2017, and prior to that, I was a customer success manager for a year and a consultant/IT auditor for 4 years.
When I first decided I wanted to be a product designer, I was looking into General Assembly and Tradecraft like you probably are. Both design programs seemed great, but after talking to a friend who graduated from TC, TC sounded more intense, which I thought would better equip me with the skills I need to land a UX/product design role. After going through the TC program and talking to a few people who did the GA program, I'm glad I chose TC.
#1 value - real client projects
As a product designer, you're going to need a few projects in your portfolio to land a job. Personal projects are great, but at Tradecraft, I had the opportunity to work with 5 startups throughout my 3 months on various design projects ranging from app design to landing page design. This experience was invaluable and something I don't think you get at GA. On these projects, I took opportunities to lead and present to our clients, who were primarily co-founders of these startups. Having these projects gave me a lot to talk about in my job interviews. Most of your time at TC will be spent working on client projects.
#2 value - curriculum
The instructors, Zac and Jake, are nice, helpful, and good at what they do. During curriculum, they'll teach you the basics of what you need to know from research to HTML/CSS, but you're going to have to read and learn on your own too. You can also schedule 1:1 time with them.
# 3 value - career development
We had weekly career development sessions learning how to craft our story, write cold emails, approach the job hunt, etc. It's hard to break into a new field on your own, and these weekly sessions motivated me to work hard and network, and taught me not to take the job hunt personally because it is in part a numbers game. Our head of careers, Ariane, helped us think through our career goals, what we want, and how to present ourselves to achieve those goals.
#4 value - the people
I spent a lot of time at TC, so thank god everyone there, including the alumni, are amazing people. There are about 3 active cohorts at a time, so you'll be surrounded by people who are just a motivated and ambitious as you are. I loved it. The people around you motivate you to work hard and do well. The TC staff are great. The alumni are helpful. When you join TC, you're forever a part of a community that will always welcome you.
#5 value - mentor talks
We have multiple mentor talks a week where product managers, designers, marketers, etc. from startups and established tech companies come in for an hour to talk to us and answer our questions. This was a great way to learn about the tech industry, different companies, and how design/product dev is like at other places.
You get a lot of value from Tradecraft. I feel like there's so much more to Tradecraft than what you can learn from their website or reading all the reviews, so definitely reach out to people who've done the program or are currently in the program. Everyone has a different experience. Mine was great!
I was successful. I'd spent a few years accumulating design experience in a dying medium. I didn't notice the decline until it was too late to course correct. I was early 30s.
I explored options. Advertising is surprisingly conservative, ad-school costs a fortune and CDs don't respect it. Anything technical like industrial or arch+viz is too education-obsessed for a late career switch.
Tech was the smartest move. I could prove myself with a few pieces of good work. Companies are starving for talent. Design is respected, growing even! And highly paid. If this environment exists somewhere else for designers, I didn't find it.
I researched every school- including grad programs. I had friends that went to a popular bootcamp in Chicago, another in SF. (Just come to SF, don't make this harder)
Tradecraft won in the end because I saw students succeeding. Nobody seemed to slip through the cracks. Just look at these reviews.
When Nick talks to you for the first time, it's natural to think it's a sales pitch. It's not. I sent my email address and he called me to form a game plan—every other school added me to MailChimp.
So now I'm out. I had a job before graduation, chosen from 2 offers with another on the way. My income immediately jumped more than the tuition costs. Everyone I keep in touch with is working, most of them with ZERO design experience beforehand.
You can do this without paying for school, but if it takes you a couple months longer, you've lost income.
I should note that I was the last to leave every night (and sometimes didn't leave), and the first to get a job. You WILL exit with the right technical skills, portfolio, network, if you do the work they ask. If you can hustle, Tradecraft will work for you.
I had made a few career transitions since graduating college going from marketing to engineering with a couple of other odd jobs sprinkled in between (as it goes with startup life). Tradecraft was hands down the best thing I have done thus far for my growth - both personal and professional. I only wish I had found them sooner. I benefitted equally from the product design curriculum as well as the more general career development that happens every week. I now have the confidence to network and communicate in order to continue progressing my career - something I didn't have before (even though I have been in the working world for 6 years). I actually cringe thinking of the emails I use to send at my attempt at networking. My view on the whole tech industry has rotated for the better. With that being said, you will only get out of Tradecraft what you put in, do not expect this to be a walk in the park with a network waiting for you at the end.
2 of the biggest pros for me from the program were:
My personal goal of the program was to get a job as a Product Designer. Having a portfolio of real projects to speak to and showcase in interviews was what helped me land my first gig after the program. I was able to see myself more as a design contractor as opposed to a student during my time at Tradecraft and that made all the difference.
When you start your job after Tradecraft there will still be so much to learn. It's important to know that Tradecraft will provide the foundation and the tools to get you to that next step however, it will taken more than 3 months to build your skills. The ongoing community that tradecraft offers will be the key to continuing this growth and to helping you shine in your next role even when everything is new. My first week on the job I was assigned two tasks relating to print design that I had never done before (you likely won't learn print design during the program). As the only designer on my team I was left to my own devices to understand how to do this. After stressing for a few days I finally reached out to the alumni network. Within a day I was able to hop on the phone and walk through the tasks with somone. After that conversation I was equipped with the tools I needed to move forward on the assignment in my new job. Never have I been a part of a community that is so willing to be involved, empathetic and supportive. While the job hunt can be competitive for some, everyone in the community is rooting for your success and that alone makes the program worth it.
When I decided to learn UX, I wasn't really sure how to go about it. I researched several places, whether it was online-only or in person, full-time or part-time, and I finally decided to try out Tradecraft after seeing reviews and talking to someone who had already gone through the program. And I'm really glad I did!
There's really good culture, everyone tries to help each other out if someone doesn't understand something. There's strong support while you're in the program, and especially impressive support after you graduate. And there's amazing resources like the mentors, other students, reading materials, and teachers that give you a process.
I was really surprised by the integrity of the program.
I come from the social science field and was already working in tech and UX, but wasn't learning at the speed I wanted. I felt stuck in my career, and couldn't find the mentorship I was looking for in Argentina.
I was reviewing other similar programs before I founded Tradecraft. The others were very nice until I mentioned I was latin american...
After 3 months of job hustle in the US, I wasn't able to find a job there, but the possibility of analyzing my performance during the job interviews with my mentors, was priceless. It was one of the most frustrating experiences I had, but it didn't feel so bad: I had great coaches helping me to get better from interview to interview.
A year out of college, I moved from Toronto to San Francisco and aimed to transition into tech. I found Tradecraft online, and once I had my initial call with the team it became clear that it was the best option for me. I have a marketing background, but I had been unfulfilled by my work experience thus far and have always had an interest in design. I thought that Tradecraft would be a great opportunity to see if design was a good fit for me.
I joined the program, kept an open mind, and spent a lot of time during my three months at Tradecraft exploring opportunities in the Bay Area, deliberately working to figure out what role I want and what my skills are. In the meantime, I made a ton of great new friends, both in my cohort and in the Tradecraft community overall. I ultimately realized that while I loved product design and UX, my true passion and skill is in content marketing, specifically for fast-growth startups: I wanted to help interesting, mission-driven companies grow by writing and creating great content. Without Tradecraft – its guidance from professionals, a constant stream of interesting mentors, top notch teaching and career training – I wouldn't have gotten to this level of clarity and direction about what I want out of my career and how to get there.
I came out of the program and doubled-down on finding a great content marketing role, and a month out of Tradecraft I landed a job as a marketing specialist with a B2B SaaS startup. It's the perfect role for me, my skills, and experience. I would not have been in this role without Tradecraft.
The leadership team says that Tradecraft is a kitchen, not a restaurant. By that, they mean that it has the tools, resources, and network to help you on your journey, but ultimately you are responsible for your experience there. That couldn't have been more true for me: Tradecraft helped me figure out what I wanted, and then provided practical training and ongoing support to help me get there. It was the most valuable career decision I've ever made.
I found Tradecraft when I was trying to make the career transition to Product Design. After poring through reviews of similar programs, I decided on Tradecraft because of its unique voice and emphasis on growth.
Tradecraft's emphasis on each individual student is what makes it successful. Mentors give 1-1 feedback and help students achieve their goals, whether they're career-oriented or personal goals.
Moreover, being at Tradecraft has provided me with a community of bright, motivated individuals. Coming into Tradecraft every morning, I'm always excited to see everyone. It never feels like work – one of the best parts of Tradecraft is being able to bounce ideas off my friends and work on projects.
Overall, it was a great experience and I'd definitely recommend Tradecraft to anyone who is considering a career change. I can certainly say that the learning environment is unparalleled, and the mentors are top-notch.
Tradecraft was the lifeboat I needed to navigate the incredibly new and intimidating waters of tech. I had come from a healthcare background, forced to leave dental school after being hit with a degenerative nerve condition with my dominant arm. I withdrew from school in July and made my way up to SF in September to join Tradecraft and figure out how to start afresh.
To say that I was neurotic is an understatement. I never expected to have a career transition, and had no clue where to even start. I had extreme anxiety about starting over in a foreign field that I had no experience in.
Thankfully, TC provided the mentorship and the community that I needed to pave a new path. I met up one-on-one with Misha, one of the two cofounders of TC, on a weekly basis. During my first few weeks, I questioned whether or not I made the right decision, going to TC over a coding bootcamp. But Russ and Misha seemed to know me better than I knew myself, and foresaw that I could not be happy or successful if I wasn't in a customer-facing position. I ended up finding a job midway through, leaving TC four weeks early to join a Series-B startup as a customer solutions engineer. I could not have found a better first job in tech, or a better fit, as I am now in an extremely technical, customer-facing role.
The most valuable things I gained from TC was the mentorship from Russ, Misha and Thomas, and the community from my fellow cohort members. I was constantly supported and encouraged by my fellow TCers, who were smart, driven and proactive, and came from all different backgrounds. Everyone truly wanted to see everyone else succeed, and was always willing to help me out in any way-reading my resume, connecting me to people they knew over LinkedIn, or just keeping me grounded. I definitely owe the successful launch of my career in tech to my TC mentors and fellow students.
I happened upon Tradecraft at a pivotal time in my life. Only a year or so earlier, I had decided to leave my job as an attorney to forge a new career in tech startup arena, with a focus on social enterprise. I spent the subsequent year juggling contract work as I tried to learn more about sales and business development, mostly making it up as I went along. My soft skills could only get me so far. When a potential gig fell through at the 11th hour, I was left wondering, "now what?" It was roughly in that moment that a colleague mentioned her previous experience learning Product Design at a program called Tradecraft. She noted that they also focused on Sales/BD. Two days later I was on a phone interview with the program director, to learn more. Four days after, I was signed up for the upcoming cohort.
I knew I was ready for a deep dive; to double-down on my career in a big way, which justified agreeing to Tradecraft's relatively demanding commitment in time and money. I wasn't promised a job after, instead I was subtley assured I'd be guided in the most constructive ways possible, to meet my professional goals and build an invaluable network. They delivered. I was continuously challenged in class and on projects. I was introduced to incredible peers and mentors and within the first month I had already met my future employer.
Fast forward 1 week after my program ended and I'm happily settled in a new job at an early stage startup working in strategic partnerships, and it feels like an absolute perfect fit for me at this juncture. How quickly and unexpected this occured may seem like one big coincidence, but this is a common theme among other Tradecrafters I've met. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are probably ready for this. Good luck!
I joined TC in May, 2016 after 10 years as a designer for multiple tech companies in the Los Angeles area. I was wanting to transition to the Bay Area and revive my UX, UI, and visual design skills and thought TC would be a great way to do that. Lucky for me TC delivered so much more.
The freshening up of my design skills, revisiting concepts I understood well, and also becoming acquainted with the latest processes and trends was worth the money on its own. But where TC excelled was at helping me understand the unique culture and needs of Silicon Valley, teaching me how to build my network and the importance of it, and in helping me find a job.
Four months out of TC and I'm in the midst of transitioning to head of design from senior product designer at a post-product market fit startup while I manage my own company of contractors designing groundbreaking interfaces for the military!
In summary, it's the best money I've ever spent and I now have an incredible network here in the Bay.
I joined the TC community at the end of my junior year in Summer 2016. Second best decision I have made so far next to adopting my puppy from a high kill shelter #baostergram
If you are a recent college grad, or are in college, and looking for a way to invest in your education to efficiently level up in growth marketing, TC is the best choice:
>>Growth marketing is hard to break into if you are trying to "learn" it on your own, you need opportunities to do real work for real clients in order to be taken seriously in interviews. TC gives you the resources you need to successfully help real clients and provides opportunities to work with real clients. If you tried to comb through all the info online, it's just difficult to sift through what's irrelevant. The learning materials, which are constantly being updated and curated for the growth track at TC, is so useful and applicable to real life jobs.
>> Growth marketing can't really be "studied" through theory-heavy classes. Almost all of it is keeping up with industry practices, which change so fast. It is also about quick-thinking and creative problem solving that requires real world experience (bullet #1). If you have the chance, take classes in college for marketing and business analytics, learn as much as you can. But let's say you are coming from another major, like I was, these classes are always impacted or closed off to business majors. I've also found that reading up on fundamentals of marketing probably provides me the same information I would've gotten from those classes. Another problem with those college classes (I've audited two), is that they can't keep up with industry practices fast enough. I am working through this reading list right now for more traditional marketing fundamentals, it's pretty great!
>>The most important part about TC is the people. To me, my cohort of 13 is like family. We will always care for and support each other. I don't want to disappoint them, we hold each other accountable to high standards. Other than the incredible formal mentors in SF's startup scene that you meet during the 12 weeks, the other community members and staff who you see at the office every day are also your mentors.
Advice if you join the community : work harder than you play, it's 12 weeks, make the most of it!
I was a sales rep at a startup for my first job and was looking for a way to break through into the growth marketing scene. I've heard great things about Tradecraft before but I wanted to speak to Thomas and Nick, who assured me that these 12 weeks would be more valuable than anything that I've done for my career. And they were right!
The great thing about TC is that it feels more like a community and less like a boot camp. Sales/BD, Product Design, and Growth tracks work together everyday to accomplish real tasks and deliverables for startups. There is nothing better than to get hands-on experience for work that you'll be doing shortly after the program.
Although I had no prior growth experience prior to TC, it didn't matter. Thomas and everyone at Tradecraft took time out of their day to make sure that we were engaged and challenging ourselves. I've met some great people at TC. I still keep in touch with people from my cohort and it's always great to bounce ideas off of them especially since we're all in the same field.
I would strongly recommend everyone who is looking into getting into breaking into the tech scene to give Tradecraft a shot, it's definitely changed my life and can changes yours as well.
Tradecraft is an outstanding apprenticeship for those looking to transform their careers. I had been circling a career in product design in the few years since I had graduated from university, however, a dedicated role in the field had always eluded me. Despite working for an exciting company in the tech industry, I felt uninspired in my day-to-day life and any progress in my career seemed tangential to where I really wanted to go. Wanting to regain control of my career and its trajectory, I researched my options, and ultimately decided to take a calculated risk: I left my job to study product design at Tradecraft. And this was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
There are a couple things that really make Tradecraft (TC) stand out:
1) Client Projects: Although the lectures and curriculum are excellent and cover a wide range of topics such as visual design, typography, prototyping, and lean design, I feel I learned the most from working on client projects. These projects with start ups in the Silicon Valley are a trial by fire, and give students the opportunity to collaborate as a team and apply what they’ve learned to real work that will (likely) ship. This hands on experience not only helps students build out their portfolios, but is also a critical step in the journey to becoming a full-fledged designer.
2) The people: The instructors and staff at TC are wonderful – it’s rare to find a group of people as talented, experienced, supportive, and fun to be around. You will also be able to learn much from your fellow students, who come from diverse backgrounds, share in the goal of entering a new field, and will one day become your colleagues. One of the most valuable things to come out of my time at TC is the community of friends and mentors I found there. I would not be the designer I am today without them.
3) Personal Growth: TC pushes you to be introspective and develop a better understanding of what you truly want to do and where you want to go in your career. One of the great strengths of the apprenticeship is that it also teaches you to be more strategic and methodical in how you go about pursuing your goals.
There are a couple caveats. Attending TC does not (nor should it) guarantee that you will successfully make the transition into your desired field. However, it will give you every opportunity and tool to be successful in this pursuit. You will get the most out of the experience if you are self-directed, respectful and open-minded, resilient under hardship, and committed to the work. Ultimately, the only one who can make your desired career change a reality is you.
Upon graduating from TC, I interviewed for a few months before accepting a role as a UX/UI Product Designer. I love what I do now and have never before felt this fulfilled or excited about my work. TC was a force multiplier and if you feel you are up to the journey, I would highly recommend taking it.
Tradecraft offers an amazing opportunity to make a career transition that builds off of your current experience (no matter how different it may seem at first!).
It's a guided program, but success comes down to putting in the time to each yourself. The curriculum gives a curated assortment of the best resources out there covering all of the topics of product design. It's up to you to decide what you want to focus on.
The students are diverse with an incredibly variety in backgrounds and are all very driven. This is critical because you work together to the deliver the client work.
This is also what set Tradecraft apart-you do real product design work for real clients. This is done in teams and ultimately becomes your portfolio to get a position after the program is over.
The instructors are top notch. They are intelligent and driven, but will not tell you what to do. Rather, they help you ask yourself the questions that will get you to your own answer.
The only thing I would have done differently was to get on client work sooner and work with the instructors to get the team to do more iterations of our design solutions.
I hope my story resonates with some of you. I felt locked into Big 4 accounting, every year that passed my skills were laser focused on building an aptitude around one particular code section. While my colleagues were fawning over reaching the next level (Sr. Associate, Manager, Sr. Manager, etc.) I was thinking to myself, how did I get into this mess of living in the world of measuring success through chargable hours. My creativity which my college friends and family loved about me dwindled and I felt if I didn't change something drastically, there would be no turning back.
Something did change - at age 30, I decided to change my career. I was a bit naive and abruptly left my job. A year later, I wasn’t any closer to landing a Growth/Marketing role. I didn’t have the network or the knowledge to successfully land a role. I endlessly interviewed - it is painful to even remember the amount of rejection and time I spent on proposals to try and cater to highly competitive SV companies.
My Tradecraft experience was more valuable than my highly ranked graduate program at UT Austin. The classes were rigorous and the self introspection was intense. At times I felt overloaded but I knew this was the right path. Our highly experienced and patient growth instructor understood how to ramp students up to the ever changing world of growth marketing. On top of curriculum, students worked together on real projects for brand name startups. I was privileged to lead a data heavy paid acquisition project with Udemy and presented my findings to a board room filled with their growth team.
My experiences with Tradecraft led to many rich conversations with companies which wouldn’t respond to a LinkedIn or Angel.co resume drop. The leads and network Tradecraft offers is unparalleled. TC is very tactical by nature and understands how to stand out in this talent flooded market.
Within a few months after graduation, I landed my dream role as a product marketing manager owning all marketing initiatives for a particular product line. I am work with designers, developers and closely with the CEO on a day to day basis. The work environment is highly collaborative and I feel empowered to make all decisions around design of my product. I couldn’t have dreamt any of this would’ve been possible.
If anyone in the financial services space thinking of a transition - I highly recommend looking into what Tradecraft can do. Please feel free to look me up on LinkedIn to reach out to me directly.
I can't think of good enough words to describe what Tradecraft was for my career/life. Coming from very far away (Chile), you read about tech & growth but don't really understand how things are done in the Bay Area. Tradecraft was the gap between those two worlds.
I joined with an interesting background. Being a founder twice (including a Snapchat - Latin American competitor that grew to 80,000+ DAU), I had experienced the pains of growing a company. Growth isn't luck. It's a mindset. And even though I had some previous experience optimizing viral loops, Tradecraft gave me the solid foundations to become a growth marketer.
I met amazing people during the 3-month program. Humble, fast learners. Always looking for new ways to add value to the community. Most of them now working at top startups in the Bay Area.
Tradecraft is for people that want to learn, are curious and motivated. If you expect the world to do everything for you, then this is not the place for you. If you work hard, you'ill get 10x back.
The instructors are incredibly smart and have experience in startups and growing companies. They help you accelerate your learning curve by giving you the right material and walking you through the different growth channels.
I'm currently working in a hyper-growth company. Couldn't be happier. I will be forever grateful for everything they did for me and the Chilean Mafia.
I moved to the Bay Area from Singapore to do Tradecraft. I literally knew no one when I stepped into America. Tradecraft gave me a strong network of alumni and community to tap into for job connections, networking, advice, mentorship etc. As the program grows, this network only gets bigger and stronger.
I also knew nothing about the tech or startup industry, and Tradecraft taught me everything I needed to know to succeed. Tradecraft is not your run of the mill education program. It's a mindset. The way I approached problems and life in general changed after just 3 months. I learnt about adding value, being a resource to others and being a good member of the community. And these are the kind of skills that no one talks about, but are immensely important in being successful in Silicon Valley.
On top of that, the work you do at Tradecraft is real client work, the kind you would be doing if you were a freelancer. No student projects here. Expect to work very hard, make tons of mistakes, learn quickly and repeat. Zac and Jake, the design instructors are always available for advice. But don't expect them to hold your hand and spoon feed you material. A large part of the Tradecraft experience is self-motivated learning. What you learn and how fast you learn are all in your hands.
I currently work as a designer full-time in San Francisco, which was not something that would have been possible without Tradecraft. If you are motivated and want to enter the tech scene, I would strongly advise that you go through the program.
I did the sales track and I learned more in 3 months at TC than I did in my 4 years at college. New to SF, it felt like I had expanded my network by 100+ people - wich lead me to negotiate and sign a job offer the day I graduated. They give you the resources to be successful.
Tradecraft is an excellent institution for anyone looking to change careers and work at startups. Misha, Nick and Ariane all provided valuable advice and developed a structured coursework and job search plan for me during my time at Tradecraft. Alongside, I was impressed by the quality of students at Tradecraft. Many students come from various professional backgrounds, and are able to provide valuable inputs during projects and discussions. Overall, I would high recommend anyone who is looking to change careers, and move to the San Francisco Bay region to apply for Tradeacaft. You would develop an excellent network and learn new skills that will prove to be a great resource when searching for jobs.
Our latest on tradecraft
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.