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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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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Even just a year ago, before I went through Tradecraft, I never would've imagined myself to be in the role I am now! It definitely wasn't easy, but I owe a huge part of the help to Tradecraft and the network I've built there.
Having gone through the program, I know that each one of these reviews you see here are genuine and spoken with the best intention to inform you of each TC alum's personal journey and experience.
I knew what I wanted to get out of Tradecraft when I applied, which I think is the most helpful mindset to have going in. I wasn't as interested in the hard skills, firmly believing I could learn them myself by practicing and from online resources. I came into TC wanting to work on "real" projects with startups. And I got what I wanted. But what I got that I didn't know that I wanted was the self-motivated mentality that TC really instills in you. I felt like an entirely different person while going through the program: goal-driven, inquisitive, motivated to constantly go above and beyond, and, most importantly, confident in myself. This was thanks to my instructors, my peers (whom I can now call my lifelong friends), and the atmosphere TC creates.
Don't expect Tradecraft to bring the job to you. Expect to grow into an individual with skills to leverage your network and resources to accomplish what you set your mind to.
I first got introduced to the field of UX when I was working as a product manager, and I quickly realized that I really enjoyed the creative thinking and problem-solving aspects of the design process. After several months of taking online courses and reading articles and books in my spare time, it became clear to me that trying to learn UX on the side was not ideal, both in terms of learning different concepts/tools as well as practical application. This led me to start looking into different UX and product design programs.
I knew that I wanted a full-time, in-person program where I could be in an environment amongst peers with the same passion for design, so that I could learn from them as well as be challenged by them. I also wanted opportunities to work on real projects for real companies/products, so that I could be confident about the work that I put on my portfolio. After debating between several different programs and doing extensive online research, I decided that I needed to talk directly with people who had completed the different programs. I got in touch with people who had graduated from GA, Designation, and Tradecraft - after hearing honest feedback about each person's experience, it helped me get a sense of the pros and cons of each program. I ultimately decided on Tradecraft - not only did it check off my boxes of being a local, full-time, in-person program with real projects, the TC graduates I spoke with also had a great experience with the program.
Tradecraft is not a guarantee for a job, it's a way to streamline and accelerate your education. On top of the design curriculum and projects focused on design work, we also had career workshops to learn how to break down our previous experience to build our "story", as well as learn practical skills in networking and job hunting. Additionally, we had many mentor talks where designers, product managers, marketers, and other talented people working in established tech startups would come in to talk about their experiences and the work they were currently doing. By being fully immersed in the work and the community, you'll be able to quickly learn new tools and skills that will help you build a portfolio and prepare you for the job hunting/interviewing process for a designer role. Once you start the program, be ready to hustle! Tradecraft will provide you with SO many resources, but it's on you to manage your time wisely and put in the work to make yourself successful.
I was a graphic designer at a major corporation for 3.5 years and felt stuck doing the exact same routine every day. I knew I needed to make a career change and go back to Marketing, but I had zero experience in it since graduating from college. Once there were rumors of my team being laid off, I started searching for marketing bootcamps or evening MBA programs.
I had previously worked with General Assembly, so I thought their Digital Marketing course was the obvious choice. However, once I checked out their reviews on Coursereport, I discovered Tradecraft and decided to apply to TC for 3 reasons:
Mentor & Alumni Network
My first week at Tradecraft, I attended a mentor talk with the Head of Product at Medium, Sam Duboff. I was impressed by the questions asked and fielded by Nick DeWilde (the host) as well as fellow Tradecraft students. Every mentor talk was a great success when it came to networking, whether it was with the speaker themselves or other Tradecraft alumni. Many Tradecrafters found mentors or even jobs after meeting a speaker!
Since Tradecraft has been around for more than 2 years, there are about 550+ alumni, and they're all willing to help. Whether it be a question about a marketing project or advice for the job search, you can easily find a TC alum ready to ping or grab coffee with!
Projects with Real Companies
The part-time consultant work was the biggest reason why I chose Tradecraft after General Assembly. I had experience in marketing strategy as a graphic designer but didn't have any real-world experience as a marketer, therefore I didn't have the background for even an entry-level marketing position. Our instructor, Thomas, would bring in early-stage tech startups who needed marketing assistance, whether it be a product launch, a landing page teardown, or a complete marketing revamp.
In my 3 months at Tradecraft, I worked with 4 companies, varying from mobile apps, a network for contractors/freelancers, insurance, and AI. I would not have been able to achieve this by myself. I probably could've learned the skills through Udemy or Coursera, but the opportunity to take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to actual clients was something I couldn't pass up.
Growth Marketing Curriculum
Thomas is the Growth Marketing instructor and is insanely good at what he does. With his assigned course reading and homework assignments, I was able to get a jumpstart on all the necessary skills to be a successful growth marketer. While applying for jobs, I was surprised at how much I had learned in such a short amount of time, and how confident I was in my skills. Albeit, not sure why I'm surprised, Thomas makes sure that all his students succeed and is willing to go the extra mile if you struggle with the material or want to go a step further in a particular skill/technology. I will say that you get out of his course what you put in it.
Conclusion = Best decision I could've made!
From the very first day of Tradecraft, I knew I'd made the right decision. It's fast-paced, the energy is palpable, as if Misha and Nick had replicated the startup environment within their school. I got a job offer on my very last day at Tradecraft at a startup going out for Series A, and I definitely owe it to Tradecraft!!
Tradecraft was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.
First some facts:
- I moved to San Francisco the day before beginning TC
- Within 2 weeks of graduating, I had a job as a Growth Marketing Lead at a startup
I have always been lost with my career goals. I never really understood how to effectively apply for the jobs I wanted, or what skill set those jobs needed. Over the course of three months, Tradecraft introduced me the world of startups, taught me everything I could ever need to nail an interview, honed my marketing skills, taught me how to plan for the future, and most importantly taught me how to focus on my own goals.
Success in life is never guaranteed, but TC taught me how to work smarter and dream bigger. The difference between tradecraft and other programs is the community is incredible, with connections all over the startup world. The people I met at Tradecraft are incredible: motivated and intelligent.
If you have any hesitation about coming, don't! Thomas, Misha, Russ, Ariane, Nick are incredible.
If you’re reading this, you may be at work daydreaming about what you might do next, or maybe it’s midnight and you’re researching other accelerated design programs.
I was there. I was working in tech for 2 years in support. I started taking classes part-time at UC Berkeley for UX Design to test the waters. Part-time really wasn’t enough for me to feel that I could make a career transition. I personally needed and wanted to dedicate 100% of my time to design and discovered Tradecraft through a friend. I have zero regrets, learned so much in three months, built a great network of individuals inside and outside of Tradecraft, and accepted a product design position in SF within a week of graduating.
Takeaways on why Tradecraft is worth it:
- Client Work: Tradecraft partners with small startups where Tradecraft members get real work experience going through a full design process from research to mock up to shipped designs in 4-8 weeks
- Mentorship: Zac and Jake are badass designers and wonderful instructors. The alumni network is strong and so are each TC members’ mentor network in the Bay Area
- Community!: Although TC is advertised as a 3-month program, it’s really for life. I imagine I’ll always be in contact with some of the individuals I’ve become friends with in the program, and am constantly meeting new alumni and mentors through TC.
Boiled down, TC is not going to get you a job; *you* are going to get you a job! The folks at TC are well aware that every individual who is accepted into the program is capable of securing a job on their own. However, it’s through an ecosystem of rockstar mentors, knowledge about career development and tech, exposure to real client work, and spending days and nights with a group of driven individuals who are as motivated as you to get it done that you will reach new levels of growth for yourself and discover opportunities that you weren’t aware of before going through the program.
You got this - good luck!
Pivoting from graphic design to product design was easily one of the best career moves of my life. I had done tremendous amounts of research deciding which 3-month program to pursue (RED Academy, Designation, General Assembly) and decided to go with Tradecraft. The instructors are top notch and the sense of community is strong.
In addition to living in one of the most prolific cities for design + tech while learning the best practices in the industry, I found a job within two months after graduating from the program. I couldn't be happier with my new career working for a rapidly growing health tech startup.
If you're deciding between programs, I encourage you to reach out to the alumni of the program and ask them for yourself. The choice was clear to me.
I can't speak highly enough about this program. I first learned about Tradecraft from Course Report. Based on all of the great reviews I decided to apply. So I'm happy to come back to Course report and confirm that Tradecraft truly is that good.
A few things to keep in mind...they are selective and if you don't have an impressive portfolio they will give you a challenge to see if you're a good fit for the program. In that way, they are different than some other programs like General Assembly. So prepare to work for it. The great thing about it is that the people you meet and work with in the program are legit.
My background was a little different than most. Coming from a lot of startup experience, I wasn't looking to switch carriers as much as refine my process and work with a variety of great companies. The program was great for this.
I couldn't have asked for better teachers. I learned a ton from Zac and Jake on the design side. They are super patient, insightful and awesome people. Also, Misha on the sales side...he makes you teach the classes, and it really was the best way to learn. Although I didn't take marketing from Thomas, I did sit in on his financial talk and rapped with him about marketing, investing, etc on the side and good lord these are all some top level thinkers.
Nick, Arianne, Kris and Russ are all super supportive and helpful. I am SO grateful!
Getting a chance to work on projects with a team made up of peers was challenging but in the best ways. You will really get a taste for working quickly, collaboratively, pulling late nights and weekends, attempting to churn out your best work. But the amount of work you take on is really up to you...so this may not have been true for everyone. I probably took on too many projects but I enjoyed it.
The mentors they bring in are also excellent. So I highly recommend attending the talks even if it's not in the area of expertise that you're in.
I've been working full-time ever since as a contractor for several startups and now for one of the biggest, most innovative companies in the valley. In large part thanks to TC. I feel like I'm part of the Tradecraft family now and plan on continuing to build on these new-found mentorships and friendships. I hope I can help others going through the program like many of peeps helped me. So yeah, I say, do it already!!
I am soooo beyond thrilled that I decided to enroll in the Tradecraft program!
I graduated from the TC growth track a few months back after starting my career in sales. I knew I wanted to shift from being on the phone all day to the more analytical strategy side of business and TC was the conduit I chose to help me with the transition.
Investing in my future with Tradecraft was not a decision I made lightly, but it ended up as one of the best decisions I have made in my life. I would highly recommend the program to anyone who is serious about wanting to shift their career to a related field in start-ups and motivated to put in the work to enable their success.
As a career switcher looking to prepare myself for the new direction I was heading was, I mainly decided to enroll because I wanted to gain consultative experience working with real start ups on growth projects. My goal was to gain real world experience and credibility when speaking as to why companies should entertain the idea of hiring me for an analytics based growth role. The projects that original fueled my interest were great but merely a sliver of the amazing program TC has to offer. TC teaches you to navigate stressful schedules on short notice, to network and publish effectively to enhance your career profile, to learn what you need quickly and to iterate on your learning even quicker, to work effectively and efficiently in diverse groups and much, much more. At Tradecraft, you learn the tools and skills and gain the support to be successful in all aspects of life.
Tradecraft's goal is to prepare each and every student for the next step in their particular career journey in order to get them on the right foot for where you want to be 5-10 years from now. I can confidently say TC set me up to succeed in my goals and accelerated my timeline to have me on track to get where I want to be faster than I had even hoped.
The TC community is one of the most amazing groups I have ever been a part of. Other Tradecrafters are spread throughout the tech world and are always quick to jump at the opportunity to help others involved. Everything at TC is taught to you in terms of value and everyone works hard to create the most value possible for the collaborative network. From your cohort members to other students attending at the same time as you to all graduates and the whole TC staff, everyone is there to enable each other's success and continuously take the network to the next level.
Because of the TC network, I was connected to and able to land the best opportunity I could have imagined after graduation in a role that I am excited to show up for on a daily basis. I couldn't be happier or more grateful for what the program has done for me and my career.
Special shout outs to Misha, Russ, Thomas, Nick, Ariane and the rest of the TC crew for creating such a special place that has meant so much to so many :)
Can't say enough great things about the Tradecraft program and community. After 3 years in B2B SaaS sales, I knew I was ready for something new. I had very little hands-on growth experience as a sales rep, but I had sold to software to marketers so I could "talk the talk" when it came to growth. Tradecraft's curriculum, hands-on growth projects, and career development sessions helped me to not only "walk the walk", but prepared me to land my first two paid contract gigs as a marketer -- currently I'm on a month into a contract-to-hire gig and things are going great!
If you are serious about a career transition and you're willing to work hard and become comfortable with being uncomfortable, then there's no reason why you shouldn't invest in yourself and your career.
As cheesy as my headline is, that is how I feel about Tradecraft. I came into the program already having startup experience but I wanted to get to the next level fast. I had been working in operations/logistics and "sexy" SV companies but I wanted to ideally start my own company. I signed up for the growth track and on day one told Misha I had an idea for a company I had been playing with. He pushed me to pursue it immediately and the rest became history.
My entire TC cohort and many of the people around became engrossed in helping me make this dream a reality. People I never knew before volunteered hours to help me build a website, landing pages, and proper content. Ariane, Misha, Russ, and Nick spent countless hours giving me feedback and giving me the support I needed when I wanted to give up.
I made it a goal to network aggressively and met 2-3 people a week through the TC network. This helped tremendously as these people have become my family here in SF and my sounding boards. After a month of graduating, I honestly decided I didn't want to pursue the startup idea but I had multiple job offers lined up. It's not that TC put them on my lap, they just gave me the tools and support to make it happen.
If you're stuck on the money part, let it go. You'll make the money back two fold.
My experience with TC was pretty unique. I am a single mom and had just gotten laid off from a job I had had for almost four years, I was at the tail end of a long and nasty divorce and was feeling generally SPENT. I scraped enough $$ from family and through the generosity of TC was able to attend the 12 week bootcamp. It was the most expensive investment I have ever made in myself and hands-down the most beneficial. TC not only gave me the curriculum I needed to gain an understanding of the foundation of growth marketing, but it also provided a steadfast professional community, a group of mentors that believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and a fully immersive experience of what it feels like to be fully supported in your goals - I was able to build a new self because of the love and support that TC provided during those twelve weeks. I can’t recommend it enough.
Tradecraft changed my world. I finished TC a few months ago and couldn't have been happier with the experience. I'm now working as a full-time product designer in the Bay Area.
A year ago I was working in a job that wasn't fulfilling and I honestly felt pretty trapped. I had always been interested in fine & digital art, but got a degree in business to play it safe. After working about a year in sales, I knew I wanted to pursue a design career but it felt like such an intimidating field to break into without going to design school. So I quit, tinkered around in the arts without any real direction, and was starting to apply to grad schools.
Then I finally met some people in the TC community. After hearing (honestly pretty similar) stories to my own, I signed up and started two weeks later. A few spark notes:
The TC Mindset
Tradecraft sets you up for success in a way that is different than other bootcamps and traditional school settings. They basically give you a platter of skills and say choose and master the ones that will make you the most valuable doing something you love (emphasis on the latter). All of the instructors and staff want TCers to be successful and will support you as much as they can, but they do it in a way that allows students to tailor the experience to what they are looking for. This means a few things:
- A robust curriculum with the fundamentals to practice and learn skills in any track. But no strict weekly schedule and definitely no grading, just awesome feedback from wicked smart instructors.
- Project focused work with real companies
- The option to do multiple tracks (or to just learn certain subjects). In the startup world skills are what matter, not necessarily job titles. So having knowledge about growth/sales as a designer is useful and vice versa.
- A community: You get the TC community (student, instructors, staff, founders), but you also get to meet super successful mentors that come in and give talks, all past students, and access to a super valuable network in the valley.
Real world projects
TC whisks you off into the real world right away. The bootcamp experience is already really surreal, but TC does an amazing job of incorporating the startup world into your 12 weeks so you finish with hard skills. TC students & instructors connect with companies that need projects done (pro bono) and work on those while using the skills you learn in the curriculum. This not only gets you real world experience & portfolio work, but it makes the transition from you old career to your new career feel more fluid.
Career Development & Job Search Help
You'll get 12 weeks of super valuable career focus, planning, salary, & mental tips/tricks that help you land a job. Arianne, the Career Development Lead, is a master at helping people figure out their goals and planning out actionably how to get you there. A lot of people got jobs during the program and others after. This is where the Silicon Valley network is super valuable. TC founders/staff will extend their network to you which should give you a leg up in the first-job-out-of-a-bootcamp market. This is how I landed my gig!
Definitely, talk to Nick if it's something you're interested in. I highly recommend!
I finished the program about two months ago now. I enrolled in the growth marketing program and took some product design classes. Here is my background:
After I left my job as a product marketing manager at a game company, I had to leave the country because of my visa situation. I was debating whether to leave right away or spent all my savings on enrolling in a bootcamp program. I was looking at Tradecraft versus Hack Reactor. I know everyone wants to be a coder now, I was no different. However, I know I couldn't see myself coding, so I chose to broaden my skill and get to be part of this community.
My overall experience has been amazing. I've met new friends in the program who have various background, but now want to break into tech startup. Everyone is so talented, and they work hard to achieve their goals, but one thing that stood out is we never forget to think about how we could help others along the way. Throughout this amazing network, I also got to know a few alumni who are now my mentors.
In terms of curriculum, I didn't gain much out of the growth marketing because I already have some experience with it. But Thomas (growth lead) was a wonderful resource for you to dive deeper into the area that you're interested in. I learned a lot more from product design program because it is something challenging that I had to push myself to go through. Zac and Jake (design leads) are very helpful.
Because my goal wasn't to stay in Silicon Valley right after graduation, I didn't benefit much from the job search process. However, this is not to mention that I got to know the co-founders of the company that I'm working at right now in Indonesia through Misha (co-founder of Tradecraft).
Throughout the program, you have to push yourself. It is just like a startup. It's not much structure. You get what you put in. Good luck!
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 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 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.
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!
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.
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 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.
I applied to TC based on recommendations from a few industry professionals and from all the great reviews I read online. But after going through their ridiculous application process and getting accepted, I ultimately decided the program was not for me and declined to come on board.
First of all, there is no way to email anyone with questions, no phone number, no FAQs, no way of getting an on-site tour, and no way of sitting down with an instructor to see if it will be a right fit. The ONLY way to get ahold of anyone is to "apply", which means just filling out a contact form. After "applying", Nick from admissions will call you for an informational interview and tell you they are so great and selective, but it's not true. I've met people who came from varying backgrounds who were all accepted. After the initial call with Nick, for the Product Design track, you'll be asked to do a project which takes quite some time, especially if you're completely new to the Design world. On the final call, they will tell you your project was crap and will not give any feedback, but they will say you're accepted anyway because they can help. They will convince you that you need them and they will bully you to start immediately, otherwise, they won't think you're serious. Their desire to just fill spots and take people's money is so obvious. Honestly, I should've known better. The signs were all there, but I was blinded by the reviews. For $14,000+, you would think they'd care a little more about how they're coming off and not be so rude or pushy.
Since declining TC, I've met several other people who had similar experiences. I also found additional programs with better setups and offerings and I couldn't be happier that I walked away from TC. I've met people who went to TC and they got great results from attending, but they were all part of the earlier cohorts. Things change. I'm honestly surprised there aren't more bad reviews here.
I won't tell you where to go if not TC, but I will tell you to find a program that welcomes you, lets you meet instructors, is kind, and totally transparent with what they can do for you. They do exist! Don't give your money to just any program that claims they can get you to your dream job. I emailed with and visited offices so many different programs, and I didn't commit to any of them until I found the one that didn't make me feel uneasy. Declining TC was the best decision I could've made for my career.
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.
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.