The hack_app team recently had the privilege to speak with Eric Wise, the founder of SWC Guild, a code school based out of Akron, Ohio. Eric and our team covered a variety of subjects throughout the interview; these topics included the vision behind his code school, the exclusivity of the SWC Guild, as well as the excellent job placement activities and numbers of the school.
We would like to extend our thanks to Eric Wise for giving us his time and providing us insight into his code school. The SWC Guild is a rigorous and exclusive school that teaches both Micrsoft.NET and Java.
What is the story behind the SWC Guild?
Eric began in the coding industry as the director of App Development for an insurance company. In 2008, he experienced difficulty in finding qualified coders for a large app development project. His team then turned to the local colleges to find qualified coders; this also resulted in nothing but frustration. This is when Eric realized a large flaw in the secondary-educational model in regards to teaching code - the experience was too fragmented to prepare the students for the job market. And furthermore, Eric knew that given the right people, you didn’t necessarily need a degree.
Due to this discovery, Eric developed the Software Craftmanship Guild to quickly and effectively educates coding students who are immediately ready to enter the job market. Eric decided to meet a dire need in the coding industry with an innovative educational model that only produces quality coders.
What differentiates the SWC Guild from other code schools?
According to students, the most attractive aspects of the SWC Guild are the small class size of eight or less as well as the extremely personal education experience.
According to Eric, one of the school’s focal highlights is that the SWC Guild does not hire TA’s. Eric believes that the students deserve to be taught by a teacher who has had experience in the coding industry. This is the basis for a very strict requirement of the SWC Guild; every teacher in the SWC Guild must have at least 10 years of experience.
Eric also highlighted the Ohio location of the code school. The Ohio location has a very reasonable cost structure and provides students with a very low cost of living; students will only need to spend around $3000 to live in the coding school area for 3 months.
What is your application process like?
If you are applying to be a member of the SWC Guild’s next coding cohort; applicants will go through the following process:
1. You will have a video interview with the SWC Guild leadership.
2. The SWC Guild will evaluate you throughout this interview on three main concepts: your communication skills, understanding of the upcoming challenge, and previous coding experience.
3. Lastly, the SWC Guild will give you an entrance test to indicate your ability to follow directions and potential to build complex models mentally. About half of the applicants fail this test.
What could a new student expect from the SWC Guild education experience?
Throughout the program, the instructors are physically in the building 9-4 daily, providing education and advice. Typically, the students will see a lecture in the morning and experience hand-on teaching in the afternoon. Students can expect to be in the classroom around 40 hours a week; the most successful students spend upwards of 70 hours a week.
A focal feature of the SWC Guild educational experience is that students are given mastery projects where they are tasked with utilizing all their knowledge to develop a complex system that will test their abilities. These tasks teach execution of the material as well as communication of the concepts.
Additionally, instructors are on-site from 9:00am - 4:00pm and have email and Skype accounts for students to reach them after hours.
Do you help your students in any way, post graduation?
The focal platform through which the SWC Guild aids students and graduates in the employment process is through their employer-partnership relationship. The SWC Guild partners with local and national businesses in multiple employer-educator partnerships; these partnerships allow potential employers to come and interview the students for positions before the cohort has even ended. This partnership is also very beneficial for the students because they are in a position where the employers desire them and their learned skill set enough to interview them before they have completed the learning process.
Some employers actually pay the SWC Guild to become an employee-partner with the school; this fee and the purchased status affords the employers early access to the schools’ students. The fact that employers would pay for this opportunity speaks to the quality of the education and demand for SWC graduates.
Eric recalls an employer recently telling students (that were being interviewed):
“We really aren’t going to ask you guys any technical questions. We are looking for a company culture fit. We know you guys have been taught the right things and we are not concerned about that part.”
“That was a really defining moment for me because we are a little more than six months old and our employer-partners already trusted us…”
In addition to the employer-partner program the SWC Guild also empowers students via traditional methods. Leading up to graduation, the school helps the students optimize their resumes, put them through mock interviews, and invites business owners and recruiters on -campus to test them.
In fact, 70-80% of the placements are before the students graduate.
But let’s say you graduate from the SWC Guild and still do not have a job. What happens then?
Students who graduate that are not placed immediately, are allowed to stay with the school for free and continue to refine their skills.
You are welcome to hang out with the Guild for as long as you want. You are welcome to attend our career events for as long as it takes.
But this shouldn’t typically be the case; The SWC Guild has only not placed 3 students.
Please view the accompanying YouTube video for the complete interview with more information, in-depth interaction with the SWC guild and hack_app teams, and increased insight into the code school industry.