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Y Combinator

We talk with people who are shaping the future. A show about technology in business, research, and art.

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How is Lambda School curriculum different from a typical University computer science course?

Universities like to start with fundamentals and build a holistic picture over time. That works for some students, but not all. Lambda gives you a project to play with on day one, enabling you to experiment, to change things, to get excited about what you are learning first. Once you are motivated to learn, learning becomes a natural process.

Why are some students unsuccessful in completing their education?

It seems that traditional educational models assume that some students are going to succeed and some will fail, and instead of helping those who might fail, they are making sure the other ones are guaranteed to succeed. It does not mean you cannot learn the curriculum, but if a student and the school don't share the same goals to begin with, it becomes even harder for someone to succeed when faced with a challenge.

Why would you persevere when everyone is telling you to stop?

If you don't have another option you either succeed or you die. There's no plan B, so you have to succeed.

What made Lambda so successful despite other code bootcamps having difficulties in online education?

Existing bootcamps tried to solve online with the same tools they were teaching offline. When they put their curriculum on the internet and it did not work as expected, they assumed the internet was broken. Lambda realized that in order to teach their students online, and to get them jobs, not just the whole curriculum but the whole ecosystem for the students had to be changed from the ground up.

Are there non-tech opportunities to train employees?

Yes, there are many areas where employers are willing to pay a lot of money because of the shortage of labor. For example, there is a huge shortage of nurses, but due to funding restrictions every nursing school is at capacity and cannot produce more graduates.

Is there a ceiling to how high a salary can go?

No, it's whatever you can negotiate. Just because someone is getting paid X does not mean you cannot negotiate 2x or 3x that. Companies are incentivized to not advertise that, but if you can prove what you are worth, you can make whatever your dream number is.

How much can I get paid?

If you can measure how much you are worth, it would be easier to leverage the pay you deserve. There a lot of people who get underpaid every day simply because they don't know their true worth. Don't let people peg you into a specific number, instead figure out your own number.

What are some reasons why a funding round for a startup might fail?

Sometimes a VC, after doing months of due-diligence, would pull the rug and not fund you. It's a bad move, but it happens and it's something every founder should be aware of. That would be one reason to dislike VC, and to strive towards profitability.

Is there value in traditional liberal arts education?

Absolutely. There is value in liberal arts. You might not have to do it within the walls of a University though. For example, if you are 35 and you have never had a high-paying career, taking thousands of dollars in loans to take a few years off and go to a University is not a bad thing, but it might not be the right thing at the right time. Lambda School is looking to create vocational curriculum to help you accomplish these goals on your own terms.

What drives new subscribers to a YouTube channel?

Reputability [one could also call it herd mentality]. You are more likely to subscribe to a channel that already has millions of subscribers than the one with nobody listening to it.

What makes Marques Brownlee so successful?

Tech has been interesting and important to people so doing videos in tech naturally attacks visitors. Meanwhile, Marques has been doing his YouTube channel for over ten years now, and while there are many other channels, this consistency over a long time is what brings his subscribers back.

Check out Marques channel for reference -

What inspired Austen Allred to start Lambda School?

Aftering living in rural Utah and then moving to San Francisco, Austen saw that places with less access to work have just as many qualified talent, but this talent does not have as much opportunity to connect with jobs.

Is Lambda School and computer science work just for rich people?

Not at all. In fact, one of the hardest thing for Lambda is to convince people who qualify to apply. Often case people don't recognize they have what it takes.

How do you encourage people to do something they are scared to do?

Highest level activity one can have is inspiring other humans to do their best. Massive imposter syndrome often prevents people from taking a leap. In case of Lambda School, many early graduates were great at their work, but they did not feel confident in their new shoes to start applying for jobs right away, so Lambda came up with a few mechanisms to build self-confidence and encourage these folks to leap forward. People don't realize that tech work is in such high demand, they'd get jobs the minute they actually apply.