“When you sign up for V School, your journey doesn’t end after some arbitrary amount of time. The finish line is accepting a great job in tech,” Co-Founder and CEO Michael Zaro said.
Yes, you read that right. Instead of imposing a fixed amount of time for its courses, V School has adopted a responsive learning model where each student is able to progress at a speed that is more realistic to them. And it doesn’t end until you start your career.
According to Mr. Zaro, this is because the school understands that not every student shares the same background, life circumstance, experience, and commitment. Therefore, it didn’t make sense to V School for everyone to go through the same schedule at the same pace.
This is just one of the many systems in place at V School that have a singular goal: to land you a job in tech. Let’s take a look at some of the other methods this school uses to achieve that goal.
V School Curriculum
“Coding bootcamps are generally intense with less theory and more practice. There are tons of benefits to that; people get into the industry faster and they get to make connections with peers in the same cohort, for example.
“But, in order for the conventional model to work out, everything in your life has to line up. When life happens—as life does—you may get derailed while the school moves on with the next topic on the curriculum because there is a schedule for them to follow,” he said.
“It can throw your entire trajectory off and your technical education will be built on a shaky foundation. You will not be as ready as you thought you’d be by the time you graduate. We know that’s not what students are buying, we know they want a career and we’re here to help.”
With V School’s responsive learning model, the curriculum is taught using a mastery-based approach where students move on to the next thing on the list only when they are ready—even if it takes them longer to get there.
What Does V School Learning Look Like?
This may bring one question to mind, “How does it really work?” To put it simply, students will go through the training they personally need in order to get the job they want. They also get to plan their coursework around their personal schedule, regardless of what the schedule is.
While all students of the Web Development or UX/UI Design program go through the same curriculum, they will be spending more or less time on certain aspects of the syllabus, based on what they need to improve on.
“Each student’s V School journey is different. Some have great professional experience and just need to upgrade their technical skills. Others are launching their first career, or making a dramatic industry transition.
“Responsive means that student A will get additional focus and support on the technical side, and student B would get months of on-the-job training with real companies until their resume and experience are strong enough for them to land a great job,” Mr. Zaro explained.
As per the curriculum itself, V School uses a hybrid model which combines asynchronous lessons with in-time mentorships and live standups. If students require help while going through the pre-recorded materials, they can easily reach out to instructors, teaching assistants, and peers on V School’s Student Workspace on Slack.
The classes at V School are kept small with a 7:1 student-to-teacher ratio for an enhanced learning experience. The curriculum is divided into seven modules, six of which are focused on skills-building while the final module will see students begin their experience-building phase.
While the day-to-day affair may look different to everyone, V School holds a daily kickoff meeting at 9:00 AM MST to inject a little positivity into students’ mornings. Depending on your schedule and needs, your day will likely consist of group standups, breakout rooms, and other Zoom meetings.
How Do V School Graduates Know They Will Get a Job?
“You don’t get a black belt after sitting through X hours of martial arts lessons. You get a black belt when you earn it. Right now, the education system is not structured that way so we had to reinvent it. You’re here to get a job you love in the industry and we’ll be here until that happens,” Mr. Zaro said.
Below, we’ll delve deeper into V School’s initiatives to ensure students are prepared for a tech job:
Industry-Level Assessments That Can Lead to Careers
According to V School, every project, exercise, and piece of curriculum build towards a test of ability that the industry has defined. The school works closely with various hiring partners—from nonprofits to local businesses and tech giants—to gauge what their expectations are. The feedback, in turn, is incorporated into the training itself.
“We recognize that real-industry job experience is important. So, we reach out to companies and ask them to provide internships, apprenticeships, contractual works, and job offers to our students. Companies oblige because they are aware of our learning model; we will only offer students up for jobs when they know what they are doing.
“Students are not forced to take on these opportunities but we encourage them to. Depending on their skills, they may start with a volunteer project for a local food bank, or a contract works with a local business, which then can be converted into full-time opportunities if they do it well.”
Mr. Zaro added that these real-world experiences not only help boost their portfolios but can also help them develop their own network of professional contacts.
Curriculum and Support Built Around You
“At V School, we start with figuring out what students are trying to get out of this experience and how do we achieve it. Then, we work backward from there,” Mr. Zaro said.
With this in mind, V School designates a Student Success Mentor for each student on the very first day of enrollment. The Mentors, as the name suggests, will be in constant communication with the students throughout their time at V School. They also monitor student’s performance and work to revise a student’s study plan based on their progress.
“The Mentors work with students constantly. They figure out where you are vs. where you want to be and come up with a custom path that fits your situation. Based on the initial assessment, they will set out milestones for you and project the time that you need to complete the course.
“If something happens in your personal life or anything at all that may throw off your trajectory, your Mentor will then work with you to revise your study plan and come up with new projections.”
After completing the skills-building phase, students will be introduced to the career team who will be helping them out with career preparation which includes assistance with technical interviews, resumes, and networking.
It is also interesting to note that students have lifelong access to V School’s curriculum and career support. This means, even if they have found a job in tech, they can always come back and get more help on their next professional pursuit if they need to.
“We know that continuing to support students even years down the road when they’re way further in their career is only going to pay dividends to the whole V School community. We’ve seen huge benefits to the student body by having alumni from previous years who still come back to either speak with students or even hire from us.”
According to V School’s internal report, 87% of students have completed the skills components while 82% have successfully found employment in tech. However, Mr. Zaro said these figures may not accurately represent the truth considering some students are still working on completing their courses.
“With a mastery-based model, it’s a little hard to say concretely because we don’t have traditional cohorts and those who have not found a job are likely getting assisted right now and are one step closer toward reaching their goals.
“A lot of students are getting offers, there is a huge demand from our hiring partners. On our CRM, where we keep tabs of student’s progress, there is even a ‘jobbed out’ option for those who get recruited mid-course.
“Ideally, we want students to complete all components but they’re essentially there to get a job. So, if they found what they’re looking for sooner than expected, well good for them. They have lifetime access to our content so they can always come back and finish the rest whenever they want,” he said.
What Can You Do To Succeed At V School?
It should be noted that V School has one of the most stringent admissions processes in the entire bootcamp space. Prospective students will have to go through an aptitude test, pre-course work, and an initial screening with the admissions team. Once accepted, they will sit down with a Mentor and discuss their goals and academic plan at V School.
“It’s not about filtering people out, we just want to make sure that we’re not taking tuition from anyone that doesn’t have the right attitude to be successful,” Mr. Zaro said.
“There’s no need to worry, we’re not looking for people with experience. We just want to see how you work through a problem. One of the biggest determinants of your success is grit. We’ll be here every step of the way but we have to know that you’re ready to put in the work.”
Find Your Place In Tech With V School
Mr. Zaro said if you like solving puzzles, a job in tech is probably for you: “When you’re coding, you’d come across various ways to solve one problem and as you gain more skills, you’ll find more sophisticated answers to the same problem. It can be really exciting.”
To further eliminate the barriers to tech, V School also offers a slew of scholarship opportunities for women, veterans, students from underrepresented groups, and those impacted by the pandemic.
What are you waiting for? Take that first step toward a tech career with a personalized path made especially for you. Visit V School’s website for more information or click here to start your admissions process.
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.