Episode 20: The Future of Education and New Models with Ryan Holdaway, VP of Outcomes at Lambda School

Today's Guest: Ryan Holdaway, VP of Outcomes at Lambda School

During this episode, we spoke about the future of education, being scrappy, diversity in tech, entrepreneurship, boot campers, and software development.

Hosts: Fahad Shoukat and Andrew Wolfe

Today's Guest: Ryan Holdaway, VP of Outcomes at Lambda School

Ryan is a former musician and Software Engineer from Salt Lake City. He's spent most of his career working with Early Career Software Engineers and is passionate about helping people with non-traditional backgrounds break into tech. In his free time, he likes to attend Minor League Baseball games trying to befriend the scouts and he loves BBQ and playing golf.

Show Notes

Introduction: Ryan Holdaway (1.32)

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Ryan works in the Outcomes Organization helping students prepare for and find jobs.

New Education Model (1.48)

- Lambda School is a live, skills-based, online school that gives people a path to a better career and higher income at no up-front cost until students are placed in a new career.

- The hardest part of the higher education journey for most students is transitioning to a career. At Lambda, they're with students every step of the way.

- "We all win together"  Our students win when they get a hired in a new career, companies win when they hire one of our students, and Lamba school gets cut in on the deal.

- Students develop hard skills and soft skills like networking, presenting your portfolio, and having a professional resume.

- The Lambda School Partnership team are looking for companies who are looking to expand their teams so we can make introductions on behalf of our students.

What kind of people are joining Lambda School? (4.28)

- There is a diverse student body, everything from high school graduates and college dropouts to people who have been in other careers for years who are looking to transition to a new opportunity.

Does Lambda School have a post-graduation network?  (5.15)

- If you think about other educational institutions and where they gain their prestige, it's all about the accomplishments of their graduates. Harvard is Harvard not because they have a really nice campus in Cambridge. Harvard is Harvard because the people who go there go on to lead countries, start companies, and win Nobel Prizes. That's the power of the alumni network.

- Because we're online, we're in all 50 states, several countries in the EU,  and Africa, we're building a worldwide network of alumni who are getting out in the job market and in a few years down the road, we're going to be everywhere.

- The idea of helping people improve their lives through education and unlock their learning potential is a really easy mission to get behind.

Breaking into the Tech Industry   (7.00)

- The tech industry is a great industry to make a living in, but it is oppressively difficult to get your start in. We're starting to see that change with the Boot Camp model and now Lambda School.  

- The backgrounds of the people who are in Boot Camps or Lambda School tend to  have faced more adversity and "real life." There is more diversity and grittiness in these students.

- Some of our favorite success stories are of students who haven't had any opportunity or access to higher education. All of the sudden Lambda School comes along and they can take their shot.

The Overlap between Entrepreneurs, Boot Campers, and  Lambda School Students (10.22)

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The characteristics of good entrepreneurs and Boot Campers is grittiness,  willing to dive into the unknown, and not being afraid of failure.  

- Eventually, more entrepreneurs will come out of Lambda graduates, but right now we're solving the problem getting people jobs when they don't have the safety net to take on the risk of starting a company.

- Scrappiness, hustle, and drive are great characteristics. Ultimately it's a great privilege to be able to bet on yourself and start a company.

- Lamda School students are great hires for companies and startups who are looking for people with grittiness and scrappiness.  

Boot Campers and the Data Science FIeld, UX, and User Experience  (13.07)

- Data Science is difficult and not clearly defined. It's a broad spectrum. There is a huge void in the skilled labor in this job market. Graduates fit into this void very well. The Data Science program at Lambda is more strict in this program because of its difficulty.

- The goal of Lambda School is to take people who have the drive and the talent, but no opportunity and train them over time. We know what the skills are that they're required to have and we fight as hard as we can to make sure that our students graduate with those skills.  

- Companies are looking for people with skills that go beyond traditional education programs.  The Lambda School model could work in any industry where there is an outsized demand for good jobs.

Today's Higher Education Climate (16.50)

- Tuition is rising   6% a year.

- How do we replace the traditional higher education model with something that is equally or more valuable, but cheaper?

- It's unsustainable for tuition prices to continue to rise at the rate that they are especially when the value hasn't caught up.

- Today's students are looking at the burden of student loans with a more critical eye now. I predict that university enrollment will go down and the only schools that will be able to survive are the ones that keep costs and expenses under control and deliver strong outcomes

- Student loans and tuition is something that regulators are beginning to talk about now and we will see a lot of changes over the next few years.

- The high-end elite schools will be fine, but the middle will fall out. What do the middle people do? Lambda Schools and other Boot Camps will help, but there has to be more.

Education Paths and Software (21.08)

- In the future, we think that higher education will be optional especially in the tech and software industry.

- Someone who is able to make it through the interview process of elite level schools shows employers your value.

What's next for Lambda School? (24.06)

- Horizontal scaling will unlock a new pool of potential partnerships and students. Serving new areas of skilled labor.

- We want to continue finding untapped human potential, people who have the grittiness, drive, and hustle, but no access to higher education. There are entire countries all over the world that we could tap into.

- We welcome regulation when it comes to our business model. We want to keep bad players out of the space.  It puts pressure on us to deliver high-quality candidates.

- We're not just in the business of training junior software engineers. We're training people who are learning and developing. Our hope is that they become Team Leads, Directors, CTOs, and starting companies.

How do you ensure quality when it comes to graduates? (31.00)

- The income share agreement makes our school different for sure. We start with a discreet list of skills that every student who graduates knows how to do. We build our teaching and concepts around those skills, then we assess every student every week for mastery of content. If they don't demonstrate mastery of the concept, they repeat it until they master it.

- In traditional higher education, you essentially rent a chair in the classroom. You read a chapter and are tested on the material, but the teachers don't go back and make sure that each student masters the concept. Whether a student has mastered a subject or not, the school has to move on. That is why people struggle so much in school.

- At Lambda, we can't afford to have a student fall behind on any skill. We have to catch it and re-teach until the student can move on. This allows us to not let any students slip through the cracks.  

The skills list is audited by industry professionals, if you'd like to join the board, you can get more information at the Lambda School website.

Build Thoughtful Software
June 26, 2019
Fahad Shoukat
Written by

Fahad Shoukat

Fahad has a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. He brings over 15+ years in Business Development, Strategy, Sales, Product, and Marketing in various industries such as software development and Internet of Things (IoT). His experiences have led him on an unwavering pursuit to meet thoughtful people and build thoughtful software.