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 joined Tradecraft in the 20th cohort from September to December, focusing on Growth.
Having gone through the 12-week program, and now working full-time at Soma Water here in San Francisco, I can confidently say that Tradecraft significantly boosted my career trajectory.
The biggest value that I got out of Tradecraft was the community. The Tradecraft network is one of the most well-connected communities in Silicon Valley. You'll find that the network is extremely helpful in putting you on the path to success, and helping you join the company that's perfect for you. Mentors from some of the fastest growing startups are at Tradecraft on a weekly basis working with students, and passing on their knowledge in their areas of expertise.
The curriculum is very well designed to give you a well-rounded skill set in growth marketing. During each week of the program, you'll focus on a function of growth and work with the very experienced instructors to hone your skills.
Additionally the project/consult work gives you hands on experience working with startups. These projects helped give me an established track record helping startups grow, which became crucial in helping me land a great role at a great company after graduation.
Speaking of landing a job, the job assistance support Tradecraft helped accelerate that. Instructors at Tradecraft will help craft your resume/linkedin and personal brand to make landing a job much more effective. I found this part of the program to be the most underrated aspect because of the excellent accountability and support system. The job assistance support is also available to you indefinitetly.
Overall I'd give Tradecraft my 100% recommendation to anyone who wants launch their career in startup tech and help you establish your network here in Silicon Valley.
What brought me to Tradecraft?
I was a long time management consultant before a personal situation triggered me to think about how I wanted to spend my time. While I loved the people I worked with, I didn't feel I was making much impact. After many coffee chats, I discovered product/UX design was a topic I could spend days pouring over. Sticky notes and Sharpies just made me giddy. I was pretty confident this is what I wanted to do, so I looked for ways to get me into the field quickly.
Living in the Bay Area, we are fortunate to have many options to get education in the form of accelerators, workshops, higher ed, etc. I browsed all, but eventually chose Tradecraft because of the consistent response I got from alums -- great instructors, great peers, and sky's the limit with what you can do in your time there. This was the place for people who have ambitious goals and want to use what they learn to do great things in this world. Plus, Tradecraft's leaders are experienced entrepreneurs and we could rely on them to be straight with us on what works, and what doesn't.
What was it like?
There was a flexible schedule that included instructor-led sessions, course projects, mentor talks, and self-study.
The most unique and valuable aspect of Tradecraft IMO were the consults. People teamed up to work on short contracts with actual startups that needed UX design help. I loved this because we were solving real business problems, interacting with founders/PMs/engineers, and learning to work with different personalities.
The mentor talks were also great - we've had big-name folks present; and I was grateful to have the opportunity to interact with them in a more intimate environment.
The daily challenge at Tradecraft was prioritizing your time. There was a constant feeling of FOMO. Everyone around me was doing cool things, but I had to stay focused. Choosing not to do something was harder than choosing to do something. I think it helps to come into Tradecraft with a pretty clear end goal; one that's specific and measurable.
What about landing a job?
Well, I got one! I'm now a UX designer at a growing start-up in SF. It took a few months, but Tradecraft made that short runway possible. In addition to track-specific work, we also received career development help - and not the cliche, theoretical stuff that you might've heard in college - these were tactical tips. I was confident that as long as I followed those tips, I could make this career transition.
To me, Tradecraft was not just a 3 month program, it's a lifelong membership to a community that's constantly inspiring me and supportive. I highly recommend it!
My experience with Tradecraft was really great. I participated in the Product Design track, cohort 18 and managed to land a job at a startup in San Francisco within two weeks after the program.
The curriculum is highly relevant and the instructors in the Product Design track was really awesome and always willing to help out.
The concept of "learning by doing” is a really great way to learn design and that is something that you’ll get a lot of at Tradecraft. By working on solving real problems for real companies, you'll be able to develop a unique set of skills and build a portfolio that really stands out.
During the program, we also had some great guest speakers from companies like Pinterest, Facebook, Pocket, Shyp and Fjord who came in and shared their knowledge and insights about design and startups which were a really valuable and I learned a lot during those sessions.
Tradecraft is a rare gem of a school and community. If you are at all interested in doing a career accelerator program, I would highly, highly, recommend doing it, even if you need to take out a loan to do so (which I did).
I was struggling financially as a photojournalist and found myself getting super interested in UX Design. After learning a lot on my own (doing courses on Treehouse, reading books, messing around in Sketch), I decided that doing an in-person bootcamp would let me immerse myself in the design/startup community in a way that I couldn’t by simply learning on my own. I was initially hesitant about shelling out $14K as I would have to take out a loan and that sounds like a steep price for a 3 month program. I ended up making back the cost of the program in the following three months, making a ton of new friends who also love design/startups, and now have a job I find incredibly creative and fulfilling.
(Disclaimer: I did the Product Design Track and finished the program Mid-2015. They are constantly iterating/improving the program, some things may be different now)
The single biggest differentiator between Tradecraft and nearly all other bootcamps is that Tradecraft throws you into 'client work' projects almost immediately (Week 3) and you do most of your learning by doing real work for real companies.
It goes like this:
1) Someone at Tradecraft reaches out to a company they’re interested in or companies reach out about having some design work done.
2) The company comes in for a ‘consult’ which is led by the Product Design instructors - after the consult, students discuss if it seems like a project they would be interested in.If so, student Project Leads are assigned and a proposal is drawn up.
3) Students work directly with the startup to complete proposed design work, utilizing the Product Design Instructors (who are mind-blowingly amazing) whenever they have questions.
4) Students get awesome experience/portfolio pieces and startups get quality pro-bono design work.
This set-up is amazing for a couple of reasons. First, all of the learning you’re doing is way more concrete when it’s for a real company. Second, you get real design experience you can show to potential employers. Third, you bond closely with your cohort as you work through all the projects together, building a strong design network.
In spite of all the professional growth I had at Tradecraft, by far the most valuable aspect of the program was the way it reshaped my understanding of how to learn and how to best approach life as a whole. Misha, Russ, Zac, Jake, Nick and the rest of the staff infectiously imbue students with an amazing mentality: Be intentional about what you want out of life, work incredibly hard to get there, be good to those around you, and follow your curiosity. It fosters an enthusiasm and confidence that has stayed with me since.
The Product Design field is amazing right now (January 2016). Soon after graduating I got a job at an early stage startup from a fellow Tradecrafter. He had graduated before me and when a contact of his was hiring designers, he posted on the Tradecraft ‘Job Opportunities' Slack Channel about the position. I replied and ended up getting the job, I’ve been there since. General salaries at this point for Product Designers out of Tradecraft Range from 70-125K. Coming from a career in Photojournalism, that is mind-boggling. I actually would love to know any other time in history when someone could do 3 month program and immediately be eligible for work at an equivalent of a 70-125K salary. Maybe the 3 month journey across the U.S. during the gold rush? But that was 6 months and you’d probably get dysentery. Regardless of salary, I have found design to be deeply satisfying and filled with intelligent, wonderful people.
Tradecraft is wonderful. It is hard for me to think of a better way to spend 3 months of one’s life. I left with close friends, a more intentional/positive outlook on my life and learning, and a career that I love. Do it!
Feel free to hit me up with any questions at all:
Tradecraft was one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. I was accepted to the Product Design track, which I began with zero previous PD experience. Ultimately, I learned more in 3 months through Tradecraft's instructors, mentors, and previous + current students than I've learned in any previous 3 months of education.
I moved forward from the program with an incredible body of knowledge, a deep design skill set, a clearer understanding of the tech industry, and more connections than I could have hoped for. Their structure allowed me to work with clients right away, immediately allowing me to apply what I was learning in a real work setting.
If you're serious about your career, Tradecraft is an investment you won't regret.
I was part of the first class of tradecraft. While we were still figuring out small things here and there this porgram was one of the best decisions I have ever made. If you are interested in getting into the tech industry tradecraft is a great opportunity. Part of what makes it so successful is the strong community they have built, the awesome instructors, but it is also the strong individuals you will be surrounded by. The commitment and drive from each hand picked students is a huge part of what you will get out of this program. It is inspiring and key to the success to all the students in this program.
Me: I graduated from the University of Vermont in May 2014, joined Tradecraft's growth marketing track in Sept 2014 and landed a head of growth position for a well-funded startup in Nov 2014.
TC: It's like a MBA for startups. By the end of the program you will have the skillset and mindset to perform and delivery at startups of all sizes/funding stages. For me, the core TC experience breaks down into 3 main things:
1) Community and Network
As some of my other TC peers have pointed out, the community and culture at TC is unparalleled to any other tech program. I've never been surrounded by more ambitious, high flying people in my life. This becomes invaluable to students because it gives you the support system you need to develop core hard/soft skills but also sets the bar high and provides a "we can do even more" type of attitude to creative problem solving.
The network speaks for itself at TC. I've had the opportunity to learn about growth marketing and traction from the best in the business. Being at TC gives you an exclusive pass to meet with and learn from senior leadership at very noteworthy startups. Irene Au, anyone?
2) Work on real problems
TC gives you the chance to work on real problems startups have to deal with. Some of these problems are project based where you're consulting with startups in the Bay Area and others are assignments that focus on building particular hard skills for a given track. I found both sets of problems to be very exciting and challenging to work on. You will have a lot of "lessons learned" type moments where you learn from your mistakes. This is part of the growth curve and it's something TC embraces.
3) Personal Development
This last point ties in with the first point, but it's worth noting. TC does not just invest in you for 12 weeks. They make a commitment to help you accelerate your personal growth long after you exit the program. During the first part of the program, there is a lot of focus on personal development and identifying your strengths to leverage them. Once you exit the program, there is a focus on making sure you get where you want to be and making it easy to reconnect with the entire TC community (which is pretty big these days). By the end of the program I felt like I had a completely new mindset for approaching growth marketing and the everyday challenges startups face.
These are the types of experiences and values you can expect from TC. If these are things you value too and you're looking to break into the tech scene, I'd highly recommend applying to the program
Being a part of this program last year was the BEST career decision I have made to date. It will be well worth your time and money! It not only taught me essential business skills, and opened up doors that were not previously opening, but also gave me the opportunity to build relationships and mentorships with experts in multiple industries!
I was in the second cohort at Tradecraft where I completed the Growth track in San Francisco. It was truly awesome and valuable to me, as one year later I am now the Head of Growth at a rapidly growing startup.
The level of mentorship and learning that happens there is unrivaled. Students get to work on real world projects with startups facing real challenges in areas such as user acquisition, analytics, user experience, sales, and business development. Top mentors and startup founders drop by Tradecraft for talks on a daily basis. Getting to chat with major movers and shakers like Brian Balfour, Doug Landis, Rick Marini, Noah Kagan, Sean Ellis, Nir Eyal, Gagan Biyani, Matt Ellsworth, Jamie Quint, Katie Hughes, and many others was truly priceless.
Beyond the learning opportunities, there's an infectious level of energy and camaraderie among students and instructors alike at Tradecraft. It's the kind of place that inspires you to work your ass off while also enjoying every minute of it. To this day I still talk regularly to TC alums and we often help each other with tricky growth/marketing/analytics problems. It's a great, strong network if you are willing to give to it.
At the end of the day, Tradecraft's strong track record of placing graduates into top startups proves their ability to deliver on their promises.
Like so many others, Tradecraft really has done a tremendous amount to improve my knowledge base, network, and subsequentally open so many doors that otherwise wouldn't have been open. It's a fantastic curriculum-based learning environment, where you'll meet other smart, ambitious people.
In the growth track, they'll cover the imperatives like SQL, referral marketing, email, content marketing, paid acquisition, etc. and arguably some of the most valuable things you learn aren't even in the classroom, but words of wisdom from some incredible mentors, true tech influencers and thought leaders.
My only words of advice are to come open-minded, ready to work hard, and know what you want to get out of the program. The more ways you can find to relate your background to your field, company, or track of choice, the better. Learn to play to your strengths, and this program will truly help you move in the direction you want.
Tradecraft was one of the best experiences of my life.
It feels strange to use the past tense because although I completed the official three month program in Growth a few months ago, Tradecraft is and will continue to be a huge part of my life.
For three months, I worked my ass off. Nights and weekends. Reaching out to mentors. Taking on projects for high-profile startups with real expectations.
I learned more in those three months than I could have possibly expected, and then after, I went out to figure out where I wanted to land.
See, the reason it's weird to use the past tense is that even after those three months passed, Tradecraft has been there for me.
When I was going through interviews, evaluating my opportunities, and negotiating my contract, Tradecraft was an unbelievable support. And I absolutely credit all the support I got as the reason I landed my dream job.
There are lots of great places to learn the nuts and bolts of how to work in tech startups.
I'm so glad I chose Tradecraft because it's ultimately about a long-term relationship where I'm continually supported with the knowledge, resources, and relationships to kick ass long into my career.
And in turn, I get excited about giving back to Tradecraft because it's an incredible community of friends, mentors, and advocates who support each other.
It's a big commitment of time, energy, and money. But if you're ready to commit and you're given the opportunity, I can't think of a more rewarding experience than Tradecraft.
I heartily endorse Tradecraft for delivering exactly what they promise--accelerating a career into a meaningful role at a startup.
The instructors are smart, passionate, and connected. The program teaches you quite a lot (like drinking from a firehose), and you do great work for the startups that they pair you with.
I worked in the sales and business development track, and our instructor/mentor provided terrific instruction on accomplishing a lot in those roles. He also was terrific to lean on while working for the paired startup, diagramming and breaking down what went right and what went wrong within our sales process.
Tradecraft also concentrates very hard on doing everything it can to help you find a job, including mock interviews. Most importantly, however, is Tradecraft's network (growing every day) that it taps into to help people find the right role. It's how I found mine.
Cheers to Tradecraft.
I moved to the Bay Area to be a part of the first class of Tradecraft and it was insturmental in helping me land my dream job. Tradecraft's curriculum serves a wide range of individuals from those breaking into tech and startups to students who are looking to hone specific skills or identify their passions and identify their next opportunity.
Tradecraft helped me to quickly get up to speed on Silicon Valley and learn the companies, individuals and resources that are available. As a lover of efficiency, I appreciate that this took 3 months, not a year and a half. The Tradecraft team was very supportive and helpful throughout the program and my job search process.
I enjoyed the ability to learn and then immediately apply the curriculum with startups that we worked with. We had the opportunity to focus on soft skills (personal development and EQ) which I found as helpful, if not more than the hard skills I walked away with. Finally, I'm really appreciative of the ongoing network and community that I am a part of -- and growing!
As a member of the first class, I thought attending Tradecraft and giving up 3 months of a working salary while also paying tuition would be a big risk, not to mention that it was a brand new (and unproven) program at the time.
It was the best decision I made for my career so far. The return on investment has been more than worth it, and this program has accelerated my career at least 2-3 years. I am very happy to be working at my current company now, and I was definitely a much more competitive candidate in the job market after the program.
As a member of the Growth track, I can't speak highly enough of our mentor instructors--Graham Hunter and Will Bunker. Graham's dedication in teaching and challenging us to go beyond and teach ourselves made this educational experience unlike any others I've experienced. Will's career advice and encouragement taught me more about my own motivations to seek fulfillment in my career. Ultimately, it was Graham who made the crucial introduction that led to my current position--all because he told me about a tech meet up after class. Kudos also to the founders Misha Chellam and Russ Klusas who selected an excellent first cohort. I learned as much from my fellow classmates as I did from our instructors and industry mentors.
I would recommend this course for people who know they want to break into or accelerate their tech careers. Opportunities to learn and to network are presented to you, but you do have to be highly motivated and hard-working to take advantage of them to the fullest. It's not a program to hold your hand. Instead, it's a program that will open doors for you and introduce you to people you probably wouldn't meet otherwise. You'll have to work to reap the benefits, but they are well worth it.
About me: I went through Tradecraft (TC) in the fifth cohort's Growth Marketing track. I wrote answers to FAQs from prospective students on my blog, in case this and other reviews aren't comprehensive enough.
About TC: Size/stage depends on you, but Tradecraft prepares you to work at tech companies. Through various mechanisms, some intentional and others not, TC forces students to learn and work both cooperatively and independently, advocate for themselves and their needs, and manage their time and relationships. These are probably the three most valuable skills anyone can master, and they are essential to anyone who works in or hopes to break into tech, especially on the non-technical side of things.
- Internal Network -- Tradecraft students and alumni are fantastic people and a rich group to learn from and lean on professionally.
- External Network -- Tradecraft's founders and instructors are well-connected and happy to leverage their connections for students.
- Mentors -- Mentors might more accurately be called Speakers. They come in for Q&A sessions with current students (and occassionally alums) and have been known to help students professionally.
- Learning Environment -- Students are forced to focus their learning and advocate for themselves when they get stuck. There aren't many, if any, freebies.
- Projects -- Students work with startups to solve problems and gain experience.
- Instructors -- TC instructors are wonderful people and experienced practitioners in their given fields.
- In my time there, Tradecraft's curriculum was basically a compilation of free online resources that we were guided through. I felt like we skimmed the surface in class and needed to devote most of my free time to developing a more limited, selective skillset.
Overall Recommendation: Highly recommended. The softness of the curriculum was disappointing, but the network, projects, and overall exposure have more than paid themselves off. Bottom line, Tradecraft is a great jumping off point for anyone looking to get started in tech.
Tradecraft proved to be one of the best investments in terms of time and money I have ever made. It has all the components of a great teaching environment: well-structured curriculums, experienced teachers, projects to get hands-on experience, and a stellar network of industry experts.
Where Tradecraft differs from the rest is an environment of highly selected peers to challenge your thoughts and make you grow, as a professional and as a person. The environment is optimized to challenge you and give you the tools and mindset to achieve great results in your career.
A professional playground you will hardly forget.
Tradecraft is one of the best decisions I've made, not just for my career, but in life. It's rare that we are afforded the opportunity to focus on our personal and professional development, in parallel, for 12 straight weeks. Tradecraft encourages you to do just that. The program fosters a culture where you are inspired by your peers, instructors, and industry mentors to challenge yourself and grow as much as possible. In the end, you will develop your strengths, grow your network, expand your acumen, and trade expertise with some of the most talented people you'll ever meet. You'll also have an action plan for locking in a role at the company of your dreams. You'll have the skills to proactively assess and target those companies, find your internal champion, navigate the interview process, and negotiate an offer. You'll be able to articulate the value you bring to the table and what you are capable of doing for that organization. They will benefit from your Tradecraft network as well!
Tradecraft was an excellent experience.
For 12 weeks, I got to build a network of talented people, while rapidly developing my abilities as a UX designer. At the end, my reward was a role at a tech company I love to report to every day.
If you go into Tradecraft with a specific goal, Misha, Russ, and the rest of the crew at TC will help you cut through the clutter and stay laser focused on the stuff that matters most. I'd recommend Tradecraft to any self-driven individual who is ready to jumpstart the next phase of their career.
Going to Tradecraft has proved to be one of the best choices I've made career-wise.
I was a copywriter who wanted to pursue something different. At Tradecraft, I developed the skills I needed to get a foot in the door.
Tradecraft rigourously prepares you to work in fast-paced, creative environments. From the rapidly evolving curriculum to instructors who inspire, support and challenge you on the daily, it's an electric experience.
Tradecraft's unstructured design challenges you to excercise a different muscle than traditional schooling. Here, you're responsible for your own goals, prioirities and limits--and defining them is half of the fun.
At Tradecraft, you can do all of the above with a smile, because you're surrounded by interesting, passionate and driven peers. The connections I made at Tradecraft were an essential part of the experience, and I plan to be a part of the Tradecraft community for a long time.
I have written publicly about my experience at Tradecraft (TC) previously on Medium, but thought it would be helpful to include it here, as well.
Here's a snippet from my post entitled The Tradecraft Effect:
TC is not a school in the traditional sense. There are no tests, there are no grades, and you technically aren’t required to do all the assignments. TC is much more than a school. In fact, it’s a movement away from traditional schooling. In school you just need to learn the material that will be on the test in order to pass, which is part of why many people coming out of college have trouble working in early-stage startups. I like to think of TC as more of a people accelerator. They’re looking for people who are intrinsically motivated, are thirsty for more in their careers, and are willing to put their lives on hold to get to where they want to go.
While I may have been able to get to where I’m at without joining TC, it would have taken much longer to assemble a comparable and growing support network of friends and colleagues. The value of TC extends well beyond the awesome job you end up landing after the program is over and makes the $12,000 look like a steal. If you’re on the fence about attending, my advice is to jump all-in and bet on yourself. You won’t regret it.
My contact info is on the Medium post. Feel free to reach out if you have questions.
I had a wonderful time at Tradecraft. When I decided to apply, I really had no idea what I was getting into, and when I decided to enroll, I really didn't know what I was getting into.
One of the things a classmate said to me while I was in the program has stuck with me: "Look, if you do what they say, it works." He was a cohort ahead of me, and at the time, I wasn't sure it was true. It was. The environment and culture at TC is optimized to help you achieve your goals, whether that's to break into tech from the first time, or to hone a specific set of skills in preparation for a stretch role, or whatever else. It's a self-directed program that where you really get out what you put in.
When I talk about Tradecraft, some of my friends tell me it's like I'm talking about the best time in my life, and when I talk to current students in the program, I can see what they are saying. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Fantastic culture, students who make it happen
$12k and 3-months is a lot to give-up to take a course at Tradecraft.
I would recommend Tradecraft over General Assembly in a heartbeat. Doing Tradecraft is cheaper and faster than 2 years of Grad School ( spending $80k+ and 2 years in HCI) to get a job upon graduation.
Are you motivated? Are you interested in changing your career? Are you interested in coding, growth, UX or sales? If so, Tradecraft can help you.
Why it's worth it:
1. Personal Development sessions with Shawn Plunkett
2. Learning UX with Kate Rutter and Laura Klein
3. The people & culture!!
4. Career Development with Misha Chellam and Brett Hunter
5. Inspiring Q&As with mentors (i.e. Ryan Hoover, Noah Kagan, Seth Godin, and Gagan Biyani, ..the list goes on!)
There isn't much on the Tradecraft website, so I recommend doing some digging on your own (read the Medium articles written by Tradecraft students, follow Tradecraft Twitter accounts and etc.)
I was a part of the first cohort in the user experience track under the tutelage of Kate Rutter and Laura Klein. Tradecraft was just getting established at the time, and there was a lot of good energy in we were all helping each other accelerate our careers. The lessons learned in the ux field and in general networking were invaluable. The real-world experience is what sets Tradecraft apart from other programs - to have actual portfolio pieces with real-world results is important. Misha and Russ run a great program, and Tradecraft is the real deal. It certainly accelerated my career for the better.
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.