My interview with MakerSquare.

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This is where I’ll go through how my admissions process was with MakerSquare.

Kudos to Randy Tolentino for the featured image. His images have such a nice resolution that it works great with this post. Thanks Randy!

Part 1: The Application 📝

  • You fill out the virtual application for MakerSquare here. They use a special application called Typeform for their admissions process, so it’s pretty snazzy.
  • Once you fill this app out, they’ll give you the link for the 1st admissions challenge, which was very simple. I think this challenge is just to weed out the people who didn’t even try to learn how to program because it’s supa easy.
  • Once I submitted that 1st challenge, I was asked to schedule my first interview with Shaan Shah, one of the co-founders. I’ll be sharing the Q&A session I had with Shaan and that’s basically what the 1st interview was about - a get to know you and answering any questions I had about the bootcamp.
  • It doesn’t stop there! 😁
  • After the 1st interview, I was given a 2nd admissions challenge. Compared to the 1st one, this one was pretty hard. You had to learn enough jQuery to complete it and I didn’t know coming in I would have to learn another technology. It’s all good, though. After a few days or more of struggling, I cracked it and finished the 2nd challenge. I wasn’t able to complete one aspect of it, but I finished 95% of it.
  • After completing the 2nd challenge, I was scheduled for my 2nd and final interview with a recent grad of MakerSquare, [Daniel O.]{}. This is where my technical abilities were challenged a bit. I’m not going to spoil anything but on a scale of 1–10, 10 being super hard, I’d say it was a 5.5/10. One question was a little harder than I was prepared for, but everything was pretty straight forward. The cool part about this interview was that we didn’t use Skype, we used Screenhero, which is definitely the most ideal tech to use in this situation since you can manipulate the screen of the interviewees and see how they work out the problem. This is a great way to also verify that what they did was genuine. It reminded me of Fullstack’s approach in the technical challenge as well where they used their own software to see how I programmed in real-time.
  • Following this technical session, I was given another email that asked what cohort I was applying to for sure and they reminded me that they would giving me an answer whether or not I was accepted soon since that the technical session is the final step.

I have to say, I really liked going through this multi-step admission process.

It made me feel like I was earning it and that MakerSquare isn’t just a churn out kind of bootcamp.

Also, constantly going through these weed out steps made victory all the sweeter when I made it on the other side.

Part 2: The Interview 📞 with Shaan

The first interview focuses solely on getting to know each other and my goals for MakerSquare, etc.

The second interview focused solely on the coding challenges and assessing technical ability. I was able to ask a few questions pertaining to his specific cohort experience, but the majority of my questions were answered by Shaan.

answers were paraphrased or just referenced verbatim\ personal comments are highlighted like this

  1. Yield rate - out of the applicants you accept, what percentage of that end up attending? 85–90%. There are roughly 20–30 applicants for every student ultimately selected. And there are 200 or so applicants for a class of about 18 people. We try to keep our classes small with about 15–20 students max. Roughly speaking, this year we’ve had about 1000 applicants for only 180 spots. So, all in all, an increasing number of students are applying, but the admissions process is becoming more competitive simultaneously as well. Nifty.
  2. How many drop out after simply experiencing the pre-work? How much time should I dedicate to the pre-work? Not many people drop out at all. Although the pre-work is intended to weed out the ones who are not prepared. Indeed. It’s also to make sure that every student comes in comfortably into the program and is ready to tackle harder problems. Students typically are supposed to work about a couple hours a day for 2 months on the pre-work.
  3. How many college students have you had in the past? At least a few, some in Austin. There were 3, I believe, that were currently in college or recent graduates. We had one in the last summer cohort for San Francisco as well. One of the students who ended up going back to school told us that the program had opened his eyes to a lot of things, which was great. Right now, we’re actually trying to find a way to bring in more college students to our program. Yes, all the bootcamps I've applied to seem to be interested in recruiting more kiddies like me. 😊
  4. What would you say are the key differences between the campus? Both locations are pretty similar in structure. As of right now, there are smaller classes in San Francisco (about 15 versus ~18 in Austin) to make sure that before there are more students involved, the curriculum is perfected. They are run independently and there are lots of interesting positions and opportunities available in San Francisco, which are the primary reasons we are expanding there. A big motivation of ours is to serve our students in the best possible way so right now. I'm applying for San Fran.
  5. What kind of process do your instructors go through? We’ll have them give sample lessons with students before they are hired. Current students should be comfortable with their teaching methods. We want to see they have a balanced experience with teaching beginners and that they have mentored others individually and what they’ve developed on their own.
  6. What is your background? How were introduced into the tech/web development scene? I majored in Accounting and Finance in college. Immediately upon graduation, I got involved in the startup scene and noticed that more technical skills were needed to build these projects, so I tried immersing myself in the software development area. I actually went through Starter League in Chicago back when they had part-time classes. That’s essentially how I transitioned from finance to software.
  7. What do you guys recommend students do outside of the course? We have a lot of people come in: guest lecturers, presenters, speakers, and such. We do have Meetups on a monthly basis and this is where our students can also present projects. Depending on the group, we can have anything from sports going on to yoga or running. We don’t want to enforce any particular lifestyle on any single cohort. There will be game nights sometimes, it all just depends on the student dynamic. What we do want is making sure each student is being fully immersed and going all in with trying to learn how to code, and that involves socializing and meeting up with the tech community. Team dynamic is really important. We also have internal hackathons that are just integrated into our program because we see students getting a lot out of that experience and something they can bring to their interview as well when they’re looking to get hired. We typically have at least 2 hackathons per cohort but depending on the students, we’ll have 3 in total sometimes.
  8. Do you have any meetings just between the cohort and founders? We have different stand-ups where people will present projects and any challenges they had. The teams can share their challenges in order to help each other and collaborate with the code they’re working on as well.

Part 3: The Decision 💡

I was accepted!!! ☺️ Woot, woot! I think I was able to prove that I was ready during the technical interview since Screenhero was the best tool to showcase what kind of programmer I was.

Here’s part of the email they sent me:

I hope you are doing well!  I have very good news, we would like to admit you to MakerSquare's summer 2015 cohort.  I do want to let you know about a change to your cohort's start date.   Rather than starting on May 26th, you will now start on June 1st.

The decision to adjust the start date was to provide our instructors a week gap for preparation between the end of the prior class and the start of your class. It will help us ensure that each class starts off on the right foot, and things are seamless from the beginning. We're really excited to be able to do this going forward. The program still remains as a 12 week program.

https://twitter.com/CourseReport/status/555387348620689408]

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