If you’ve started looking into schools and programs to begin your new career in tech, the options can be overwhelming. While many schools offer programs and bootcamps that have the same objective—preparing their students for careers in technology—each school has its own educational philosophy, specific curriculum, and uses different teaching methods to achieve its goal. No two schools are the same and it’s important to do your research before choosing which school is right for you.
What makes Qwasar Silicon Valley unique is that it’s essentially designed backward. Instead of planning its program based on what it believes its students need, the school identifies what companies and employers are looking for and then trains its learners based on these needs. Its programs start with the end in mind.
Qwasar can be your partner in your journey toward a future-proof career in tech. It is both a Black-founded and woman-founded school with a learning platform that “trains learners up to Silicon Valley standards for technical talent”. Its teaching methods are backed by 20 years of project-based learning experience, creating in-depth programs that take nine to 24 months to complete. This alone sets it apart from most other schools which offer either longer four-year courses or much shorter three-month bootcamps.
To ensure that students are ready for the workplace when they finish their program, all Qwasar programs begin with strong foundational computer programming concepts. Qwasar offers the following Elite Programs: Full Stack Developer, Software Engineering, AI/Machine Learning, DevOps and Cloud Engineer, Data Science, and Claris App Developer. Each program consists of different levels called Seasons that students move through after completing all required projects and exercises.
For example, if you are taking the Full Stack Development Program, you can choose to begin in Pre-Season where you learn basic software engineering principles, loop statements, and data structures, among others. Some learners with enough coding experience can complete this track in 2 days then move directly into the next track, Season 1.
Season 1 covers fundamental programming concepts and this is where students learn the basics of C. When you complete this season, you move on to Season Full Stack where you continue with building websites, basic cloud engineering, and focus on the back end and front-end tools. The last part is Season TIPP where you begin working on your final full-stack project, which must be related to the specific industry you want to enter. You will also join the Technical Interview Preparation Program (TIPP), where you do 40 plus technical interviews to prepare for job interviews. The specifics of each season vary by program, but the fundamental idea of building skill upon skill is the same for all.
Kwame Yamgnane, a co-founder of Qwasar, shared, “Our whole programs consist of highly-structured projects. The projects are in a very specific order that ties significantly to learning science and to what we call the zone of proximal development,” continued Kwame. “So, the projects have to challenge you enough that you learn something new every time you learn a new project, but not so much that you are dropped into the deep end and want to give up.”
Qwasar structures its programs on project-based learning. Although many schools claim to offer “project-based learning”, some of them don’t use the term accurately. “Lectures followed by a small project broken into eight other projects is not project-based learning”, said Kwame. “Project-based learning is literally based in and on projects that have a minimum scope. It is an active learning method, and experiential learning is the scientifically proven way for true skill development; knowledge delivery is certainly not.”
Qwasar employs true project-based learning, an active learning method that engages the learner. Instead of relying on an instructor to pass on information to the student, learners are provided with projects or problems that need to be solved, built, or created. Qwasar uses experiential learning through its projects, but also provides a support system so that you don’t get stuck on a project and turn in circles.
By focusing on highly structured projects that move from simple projects to more complicated ones, Qwasar prepares its students for their final project. All programs require a final project related to the specific industry they want to enter. For example, if you want to enter Fintech, your final project should be Fintech-related. This final project becomes part of their portfolio that employers look at when recruiting. When recruiters see the completion of an industry-specific project, the student becomes highly employable.
Community of Learners
Qwasar is community-driven and emphasizes peer learning. In real-world work environments, co-workers collaborate, and learning from peers happens naturally. This is the kind of experience Qwasar provides. Peer learning has high engagement, is more interactive, and also makes learning more fun.
Because of the emphasis on community, peer code reviews are another important part of the Qwasar experience. When students go through peer code reviews, they learn from reviewing and being reviewed, and are supported by Qwasar’s structured peer review software. Students need to evaluate, analyze, and think critically about projects they’ve submitted to peer reviews, as well as the projects they are reviewing. Students are given the opportunity to help and learn from each other.
It’s important to note that peer-learning in Qwasar doesn’t mean that you learn solely on your own or just from your peers. Qwasar co-founder Jennifer Robertson said, “We’ve created more structure at Qwasar than other ‘peer learning’ programs out there. There are meetings you have to join, there is accountability, and with accountability comes motivation. There are structure, rules, facilitation, clear expectations, and above all, a focus on learning as the goal.”
Another highlight of Qwasar is its experiential learning platform that uses an integrated development environment (IDE). In this environment, students can code directly in a web browser without having to download any additional software. This platform is one of the leaders in the world and one of the most innovative for experiential learning for adults. It is powered by data, AI, and automation that drive the learner experience in a low-cost structure.
The Qwasar system has a built-in auto-correction system for the projects and exercises submitted. This is aside from the peer code review that also happens on the IDE. All these help learners become more than ready when they finish their program and join the workforce.
Because Qwasar always has its eye on its end goal, programs focus on how companies work and function in real-world situations and prepare learners to be comfortable in these types of settings. These involve working in groups, learning best coding practices, projects and peer code reviews, daily standups, software architecture, structured debugging, and being confident in the code you create.
How does Qwasar stay on top of trends in the various tech industries? Jennifer answered, “We look at the industry, what’s trending with jobs, and if there’s stuff that’s changing, great, we’re going to change our curriculum, or add to it, or adjust to it.” Qwasar’s ability to adapt and innovate gives its learners the training they need to succeed in the workplace.
Although there are no instructors and no classrooms in Qwasar, programs are structured and guidance is available. This unique experience gives the students the experience of working on their own and also being part of a cohort. Students learn through structured hands-on exercises and projects, and with constant practice, improve their skills as they move through the program. Another important part of learning at Qwasar is that all students must go through 40 technical interviews with role-playing involved, ensuring that all graduates are highly prepared when they begin applying for jobs.
Accessible Education for All
Qwasar Silicon Valley believes in making education accessible for all. To accomplish this goal, Qwasar offers its programs to as many people as possible. “Because Qwasar is entirely cloud-based, you can do it on a Chromebook. You don’t need a Mac. That’s getting to the whole point of being accessible, you basically just need a Chromebook and Internet—this captures an enormous number of people,” said Kwame.
Another way Qwasar works toward this goal is through its low tuition fees. Unlike other programs or bootcamps that cost thousands of dollars upfront, Qwasar’s tuition fee is $100 a month, billed monthly, for part-time programs and $200 a month for full-time programs, with a minimum three-month commitment. This alone significantly lowers the barrier to entry for many students and a career in tech becomes within reach for more people.
If you have a high school diploma, plus a lot of hustle and determination, you are qualified to apply to a Qwasar program. The school also takes into consideration the availability of its students and offers both full-time and part-time options for its programs.
In Qwasar’s own words, “We’re on a mission to help as many people as possible train for the digital world, to make our training accessible, and to change diversity in tech.”
The Qwasar Experience
Qwasar Silicon Valley creates its programs with the end in mind. In this case, the end is getting millions of learners ready for the digital world. By staying on top of trends in technology, job descriptions, and what companies are looking for, they turn learners into highly skilled, employable graduates that can start working immediately, with no extra training required.
If you are looking for programs that focus on a student’s learning to prepare them for real-world jobs, and not just making sure that students finish a program, you should consider Qwasar Silicon Valley as the first step to your new future. Visit Qwasar’s application page to start your journey today.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.