Are Bootcamps THE Answer?
Coding bootcamps are gaining in popularity. The combination of rise in remote learning, a serious talent crunch for coders and a lack of confidence in the current educational system have been like gas on a fire. That's why Chad & Cheese brought on Liliana Monge, cofounder and CEO of Sabio Coding Bootcamp out of Los Angeles (but quickly going national).
We discuss the changing demographics of remote learning, how Monge's business differentiates itself from the competition and why the hell aren't more corporations sponsoring this kind of education!
Oh yeah, and how much does this stuff cost anyway?
TRANSCRIPTION SPONSORED BY: Disability Solutions partners with our clients to build best-in-class inclusion programs and reach qualified, talented individuals with disabilities of every skill, education, and experience level.
Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.
You know, what's up! It's your favorite podcast? The Chad and Cheese podcast. This is your cohost Joel Cheeseman joined as always by my partner, Chad Sowash. And today we welcome Lilly Monge co-founder and CEO of Sabio coding boot camp.
Good day everyone.
Coming to us from LA I assume. Sunny, beautiful LA. Lily welcome to the podcast.
Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited. I love the topic, love the intro.
You sound excited before we get into the company and what you guys are doing. Give our listeners a little Twitter bio about Lilly.
Lilly (1m 5s):
Fantastic. Yes. So a 45 year old Latina mom, came to this country when I was five and have been working really hard to, you know, increase diversity in tech over the past couple of years.
Chad (1m 19s):
Really well, that is something that we all need, obviously we'll so give us a little background about Sabio. So you have coding boot camps. Why did you get into that in the first place? And you said this, this is 10 years in the making. Give us a little, you know, a little bit behind of the journey for Lily and Sabio.
Lilly (1m 39s):
Yeah. So 10 years in the making, you know, Los Angeles being so ridiculously, beautifully diverse is the absolute best place for you to come up with an idea like Sabio, where you just have people from all over the world. And so you see all this amazing vibrant diversity, you know, at least 10 years ago, when you went into some of the tech companies like My Space, there really wasn't a lot of diversity, so that stark contrast was just so obvious. And my co-founder and I, Gregorio just would talk about it incessantly. And we're like, look, there's really a problem here. And so from our own lived experience, we decided to make that change. You know, he's Colombiano, he's also Latino, he's in tech.
Lilly (2m 22s):
And we realized that there was an opportunity for us to make an impact and also to start a business. And so we're both very community driven, but we love to kind of create and draft our own future and our own history. So we decided to set out to create the Sabio coding bootcamp. We named it Sabio on purpose. It's a Spanish word that means smart person.
Joel (2m 46s):
Lilly (2m 46s):
Yeah. So we wanted people to know that when they hired a Sabio grad, they were hiring someone who was competent and who may happen to be from a different type of background than they were from. But they were gonna bring to the table technical skills that we're going to add value to their team and that's really at the heart and soul of what we're doing here at Sabio.
Chad (3m 7s):
Okay. So when you talk about tech, you talking about bro culture, a lot of times, right? It is heavily white male, but you don't see a lot of Latinas. Let's just say that. So how do you break in, I mean, is just going to a bootcamp and getting the certifications enough? What do you guys do to actually help let's say for instance, Latinas like yourself, to be able to actually break into organizations and get those jobs?
Lilly (3m 32s):
Yeah. So it's definitely a multi-pronged approach and at the heart and soul of everything is exceptional technical training. So people have to have that, right. Regardless of who is graduating from the bootcamp, whether you're Latina or whether you are a white gentleman who graduated from, you know, UC Irvine and over the years, we've actually enrolled quite a number of people like that. And so, we also wanted to have a diverse organization. We didn't want it to be homogenous where it was only going to enroll people who identified as Latinos. So we ourselves are very diverse and we also, you know, want to help other people who are interested in hiring diverse candidates.
Lilly (4m 13s):
So heart and soul of it, you absolutely have to have exceptional technical skills that are relevant in today's marketplace. You guys, you know, understand the concept of HR and there are certain languages that kind of come into fashion. So we always have to make sure that our fellows have those exceptional skills. And then of course, yes, you have to do additional things. You have to do a lot of interview prep so that people know exactly what a technical interview is going to look like. And then you also have to provide them with a very sophisticated community that is going to be there to support them. And maybe sometimes open that side door into a company is so that you can kind of break the mold of what that technical professional looks like.
Lilly (4m 56s):
So certainly a multi-pronged approach has required.
Chad (4m 59s):
Okay, are you working with organizations like GetHub and Hacker Rank to ensure that those individuals know where the communities are and they also know the tools that are available to perspectively, help get them seen by organizations that are looking to hire.
Lilly (5m 17s):
Yes. And so that has been something that, you know, over the past five years, we've been able to focus on more. Obviously the first five years of the program were really, you know, 90% dedicated to creating an exceptional educational experience for our fellows. And then once that was really well baked and set to go, then we kind of had our focus externally and definitely looking to connect. And we have connected with, you know, partners like Amazon or GetHub who recognize that there's an opportunity to hire people who did not complete a computer science degree. GetHub has an apprenticeship. Airbnb has an apprenticeship for people who do not have a computer science degree and Microsoft, they have been the most aggressive in hiring people who do not have computer science degrees over the last 10 years.
Chad (6m 4s):
So when we're talking about these actual programs like Amazon and some of the other big names that you just offered up, do these organizations, pay for the schooling in, in return for being a contractor or something like that, what are those, what are those let's say for instance, blue chip types of programs look like.
Lilly (6m 26s):
So our experience has been that they have, there are certain organizations like Netflix that will pay for people to go through a bootcamp. We've seen that through some of the partnerships that they're doing with the HBCUs. Those are really new. Those probably happened within the past year or two. When you talk about an organization like Amazon, they have two different things. They actually pay to train their warehouse workers. So we worked with them in that capacity, but then they also are very eager and are doing a lot of work to hire military veterans. And so we accept military benefits. And so we work with them in that capacity. And then there's a company like GetHub that may only have 10 or 15 apprenticeship opportunities per year.
Lilly (7m 12s):
And to my knowledge, they're not paying for anything. They're more just opening the door and interviewing and providing an apprenticeship opportunity, which is still great. I think, you know, each company is going to do what makes sense for them. And we're more than happy to work with each company depending on what their budget allows for.
Joel (7m 29s):
So help me envision this real quick. You're a, you're an LA based, or let's call it Southern California business. If I were to go to Southern California, would I see, you know, your storefronts pretty regularly? What I see commercials locally sort of build a picture of what, what your footprint looks like in there in Southern California.
Lilly (7m 48s):
Yeah. So we have three locations in Southern California. And if you went to our website, you would find the addresses and you could go and find us. Over the past two years, we've really been focused on helping, you know, anyone in the country. And so we are a hundred percent live remote right now. So right now we have a student that lives in Oklahoma in a tiny town population, you know, 600 people. So, you know, the shift that happened over COVID with companies, allowing workers to be remote has really further opened up the door for anyone who's smart, who was motivated to gain these skills. So Sabio is no longer a regional player. We have students throughout the United States.
Joel (8m 27s):
There are no more storefronts.
Lilly (8m 29s):
There are, we have three campuses in Southern California and we're located in coworking spaces.
Joel (8m 33s):
So now talk about remote and what the pandemic did to your business and how you evolved. You obviously mentioned a lot of global companies. So I assume that remote has really opened up business for you. And then I want to roll that question into how are you differentiating from all the others around the country, in the world that are offering similar services?
Lilly (8m 55s):
Yeah, so pandemic definitely changed things, you know, in the middle of the March, we had to, you know, close campus. So literally everybody close, their laptops traveled home and we were back up and running literally within an hour and a half so we really did not skip a beat. And then we were able to enroll people throughout the United States. So it was actually a very positive thing because you do want that smart, motivated person who lives in Oklahoma to be able to participate in the innovation economy and prior to that, there were very few schools that were a hundred percent live remote. So it's been a net positive for the entire country to have these programs go online. And a number of other schools have done the same thing. In terms of, you know, how we differentiate ourselves.
Lilly (9m 35s):
You know, from day one, we brought in an external party, external entrepreneurs that would pitch to our, fellows and our fellows would decide which project they wanted to pick up and build concurrently while they were developing their skills. And so that allows them to come out and say, Hey, I've been part of a team. I've been part of a startup. I had this external third party that I didn't pay any money to. They can talk about my skills as a technical professional. And that really gives you a leg up when you're looking for work.
Joel (10m 6s):
So when you say there are very few, or there were very few, I guess that's different from my, what I believe. I mean, I've got like a Code Ninjas down the street from me, Chad and I talk a lot about, you know, LinkedIn and Google certifying tech skills and coding. So when you say there were very few competitors, what do you mean by that? And are those organizations in a different sort of category from what you're offering?
Lilly (10m 30s):
Yes. So it is a different category because certifications tend to play a role in the system administration or cybersecurity role. And so we tend to work in software engineering and certifications really don't play as big a role in that. And when you think about, I think Code Ninjas, coder school, my experience has been then most of those really cater to under 18 and we're working with the adult population so you have to be at least 18 or older to be at Sabio and you have to have graduated from high school to participate in our program.
Joel (11m 6s):
Lilly (11m 7s):
Yeah. So prior to COVID, you know, your major metropolitan cities would have one to two coding bootcamps in it. It could be like a General Assembly and Galvanize, or it could be Coding Dojo and General Assembly, but you really had to be in a major metropolitan city. If you were three hours, south of Dallas, there was no coding bootcamp close to you, and now that's completely changed.
Joel (11m 29s):
Chad (11m 30s):
Well, now that you can pivot to remote, who are you partnering with to be able to get better penetration throughout the entire United States?
Lilly (11m 38s):
You know, penetration happens through a once again, a multi-pronged approach in terms of, you know, different events that we have. For example, this week, we're going to be interviewing someone who is a recruiter from Microsoft, and they're going to, you know, share with us their expertise and events like that really helped people just of start to dip their toe in the water and think about tech and think about becoming a software professional. So there's a lot of events that you can run, which are fantastic. And once again, anyone in the country can participate. And then there's also things that we can do on the ground. As things open up, you know, we can make visits to army bases. They have a whole one to two week program for people that are separating from the military.
Lilly (12m 21s):
And, they're in-person events that we can run there.
Chad (12m 26s):
Lilly (12m 27s):
What is horrible?
Joel (12m 27s):
Chad's a vet.
Chad (12m 28s):
You mean the one that two, a weeks that you get as a veteran after you've been in for like, who knows how long, right. You get a whole one to two weeks to be able to get you ready for the civilian life, which is a bunch of bullshit. At the end of the day, though, it is helpful to have organizations like yours connect with those veterans. So, you know, now you say you're going to military installations. So that is, I would assume really focused on the transitioning veterans. Is that the case, or are you trying to also allow other individuals who are currently in, but might be, might be transitioning soon to better understand Sabio and perspectively, maybe start a bootcamp prior?
Lilly (13m 13s):
Yeah. So it's really depends on how open each military base is. So some of them will say, yes, well, you can talk to the people here for the last two weeks. And then other bases will say, yes, you can talk to anyone that will have their terminal leave within the next six months. And so there's a program you may be familiar with a Skills Bridge? We participate in that and so if you're a veteran and you have six months or less, before you, you separate from the military, you can participate if your commander gives you approval, of course, to be a Skills Bridge fellow and you can do your training during that time. So it's really when, you know, people have, you know, the 180 days that they have to say, Hey, well, what are my options?
Lilly (13m 55s):
And start to research those options and ask for the approvals that are required to participate.
Chad (14m 2s):
Gotcha. Gotcha. Well, I'm interested with regard to partnership with not just big brands, like, you know, Amazon and Netflix, which I think is awesome, but with, with other organizations who are in great need. Are they just sitting there waiting for these individuals to pop off the other side of the bootcamp? Or do you work with them prior to be able to perspectively get some quote unquote "internships" happening during the bootcamp so that they can get more of kind of like an inability to really feel what a culture might be for this brand or this organization?
Lilly (14m 42s):
Because we have people developing their skills and building a product for some type of entrepreneur. Right now we work a lot with UCLA business school, Anderson. And so their business fellows will come and pitch ideas and our group we'll build it for them. That makes the four months super, super jam packed. So we really don't have a lot of opportunity to engage further with additional employment opportunities until the last two weeks of the program. And so it's kind of like an assembly line week 16, that first Monday it's go time. And now we can have them start to engage with employers.
Chad (15m 17s):
Lilly (15m 18s):
What we've seen as an employers really want to see that people not only graduate from a coding bootcamp, but that they then, you know, maybe have a month or two, that they continue to coding, that they continue code so that they can interview and say, okay, now you've have maybe six months under your belt ready to bring you into our team and interview you.
Chad (15m 36s):
They want it all. That's the problem. They want it all.
Lilly (15m 39s):
Chad (15m 39s):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's it's, it's called courtin'. Yeah. Anyway, so, so, so I guess the question is because it's really interesting and I love the idea of them working on some of these entrepreneurial projects. I mean, that's just awesome, but I mean, it would be even better if they could get under the umbrella of some of these brands and start to work in some of those cultures with everyday managers, I would assume. And, us being, you know, an HR and working with organizations, talking to organizations on the regular, that they would be more interested in getting involved early on, knowing that there's a dropout rate, et cetera, et cetera, but yet the opportunity to be able to get a hold of diverse, in new excited talent would be, I mean, I think they would be through the roof.
Chad (16m 35s):
I can't understand why that's not happening more. Can you help me out with that?
Lilly (16m 39s):
It's really about the intensity of the program.
Chad (16m 42s):
Lilly (16m 42s):
We're going to bring in someone who is smart and is motivated, but maybe has never touched HTML has never touched CSS. And so we have found that we need them, you know, at the computer, you know, nine to nine for four weeks in order to absorb and master sufficient skills so that they are employable. If you don't have those hours, if you don't put in those hours, if you don't kind of swing the hammer a sufficient number of times, then you don't reach that point, that your employable.
Chad (17m 12s):
Did you just say 12 hours a day?
Lilly (17m 17s):
Yes. It's 9:00 AM the expectations.
Chad (17m 19s):
My God woman, what are you doing to these people?
Joel (17m 21s):
It's also swinging the hammer. So don't mess with her Sowash.
Chad (17m 25s):
Apparently. That's why they stay in line. My God, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Lilly (17m 29s):
Yeah, no, it's a matter of competencies. And so you can only learn so much obviously every day. And so there's a there's magic that happens at 700 plus hours. And if you look across programs, that's the bogey. And so if we take away time and we have them doing other things, they won't get to the 700 hours. Then when the employer wants to talk to them, they'll be like, they're not ready and then it's this vicious cycle. So we prefer to just give them the 700 hours. Okay. These people are employable, they're ready. Now go find someone who's a fit for your organization. Because the great thing about coding bootcamp grads is it nine times out of 10, these people have some type of prior professional experience.
Lilly (18m 10s):
So you may be hiring a CPA into a FinTech company. You may be hiring a teacher into an ad tech company, and that's really valuable as well.
Joel (18m 18s):
There's a reason that you call it bootcamp, right?
Lilly (18m 21s):
Joel (18m 21s):
So Chad mentioned, you've been doing this for almost a decade and you've thrown out like most people are or are educated or maybe currently employed. But I'm curious in the 10 years that you've been doing this, what sort of trends can you point to in regards to who your customer is? I'm curious, are they getting older? Are they getting like people disabilities? Are they coming into this sphere of what you're doing? Talk about the 10 years of demographics, I guess, of your customer.
Lilly (18m 50s):
We did definitely start out with, you know, a good balance in terms of people who are in their twenties and their thirties, and a couple of people in their forties. We are seeing that the trend is going younger. So I would say 60% are in their twenties. And then the rest will be mixed in between the thirties and the forties. It's rare that we have someone who's in their fifties, although we are open to absolutely everyone and anyone, but it's some self-selection that happens there when people are over 45 that they're like, oh, I don't know if this is really going to be for me. So those are some of the demographic changes that we've seen it. We are trending younger.
Joel (19m 28s):
So on the younger end, I'm interested, where is high school, public school failing. And do you see the trend? I would assume that you do, do you see a trend of increased interest in a boot camp like this versus community college or going to a four-year degree? What are you seeing on the ground in terms of where high schools are failing and where people's minds in the younger demographic are around going to college or not?
Lilly (19m 54s):
The students are definitely open to newer and different types of educational opportunities, which is great. They actually have lots of really great skills and collaborating online and doing a lot of that because of, you know, software like Discord and, you know, group gaming and things like that, which is fantastic. However, the institutional infrastructure is definitely still an ostrich. They're beautiful golden, you know, vision for every student is that they enroll in a four-year university and they get that bachelor's of science or a bachelor's of art. And that's just not, that's not tenable for everyone, unfortunately. And so there's, there's definitely an opportunity in the high school space for things to change.
Chad (20m 35s):
Yeah. Companies are dumb. I mean, seriously, they don't understand, you know, to being able to be more culturally diverse, you have to go to different socioeconomic backgrounds, which means many of these individuals are not going to be going to, you know, a four year school. Right and that doesn't mean that they don't, they can't obtain the skills to be able to do the job that you need. Again, companies always want it all until you get into a landscape like we are today and they can't find anybody and they're whining and bitching and complaining because they won't take it or they haven't taken a person without a four year degree, my rants over.
Chad (21m 16s):
So how many, how many people have you placed thus far from the program? What's your general success rate?
Lilly (21m 23s):
Yeah. So our bogey, we are successful when we can get at least 80% of the people who graduate from our program into a role that requires their software engineering skills. And so like right now from the people that everyone that we graduated in 2021 and three people away from that 80. And so I'm like psycho every day, you know, hounding my last three to four people, right? Like, Hey, how are you? What do you need? How can we help? What are you seeing? What are you? Right. Cause there's, there's a whole process. You guys know this, right? Like, are you getting enough calls. If you're getting calls great are you moving on to the HR interview? Are you getting the technical interview?
Lilly (22m 2s):
And are you getting that second call conversation with the CTO before they give you an offer? And so you can, you can triage each step and if something's not happening and they're not moving on to the next step, then we know exactly what needs to be done.
Chad (22m 15s):
Lilly (22m 15s):
So yeah, that, I mean, that's what we see as success. And if you'd look across different coding boot camps, what they see as success is they graduate a hundred people just for simple math and 10 of them go ghost, never talked to them. They then only tell you the outcomes based on the 90 people. And then they do a percentage off of those 90 people, but they really graduated a hundred.
Chad (22m 39s):
Lilly (22m 39s):
And so we don't like that. I'm like, look, if I graduated a hundred people, I'm going to tell people what happened to those hundred people. Right. And it could be the 10 of them ghosted us but that probably means I didn't get a job, like, come on. Let's be real.
Chad (22m 55s):
Yeah. So that being said, these nine to nine boot camps and how many weeks is this again?
Lilly (23m 2s):
Chad (23m 2s):
17 weeks, nine to nine. I love it. So what's the price? How much does this cost?
Lilly (23m 9s):
So tuition is $15,000 and there are a couple of competitors that are about $17,000. And then there are a couple local, smaller op outfits that are maybe around $12,000. So I think that weren't a very good price point. Okay. We are a little bit longer. Most programs are 13 weeks and we are 17 weeks, so the value I think is there. And then we have four to five different ways for people to pay for that. They can come through the program, they can get their job and then they can make monthly payments.
Chad (23m 36s):
Lilly (23m 37s):
Or they can prepay it before they start the program.
Chad (23m 39s):
Gotcha. Or when we start get some big logos in there and having companies pay for this since they need it so bad. Yeah. I mean, so that's, that's the big is when you're looking at individuals with different socioeconomic backgrounds, that $15,000 doesn't sound like a lot, especially for somebody who might have, you know, $80,000 in college debt, but that's a lot of money. So you have different ways of payment, but what about other programs that you can help them with? Like Amazon, Netflix? Are there any brands that are out there that are just begging for these types of individuals that they'll cover full freight?
Lilly (24m 14s):
Yeah. I mean, there actually, there's actually a recruiting firm that we've seen that runs some programs and there are different models, right? So you, as an individual, you need to kind of do your research and figure out what's a good fit for you. There are other programs that will never quote unquote, "charge you anything". They'll give you the training and then they'll place you with a company. But then those first two years as a professional, you're going to be underpaid.
Chad (24m 36s):
Lilly (24m 36s):
So instead of getting market rate, which what we're seeing is about $70,000 right now, they're going to pay you $45,000 a year, and they'll do that for two years. And then you're out of the contract and then you can go make market rate, but you never quote unquote "pay any tuition".
Chad (24m 52s):
Lilly (24m 52s):
And so there's lots of different ways for people to make this happen. It's really about finding a fit. What kind of program makes sense for you and then researching different options? You know, obviously there's lots of opportunities and people really just need to find a match for themselves. Just like when you're, you know, when you're going to college, when you're going to any program you know you're going to get some surgery, right? You're going to go get some body shaping surgery. You got to do your research and figure out.
Joel (25m 19s):
I don't know anything about that.
Chad (25m 21s):
Little nip and tuck.
Joel (25m 23s):
My body has lots of shapes. Don't you worry about that. So do you guys offer counseling? Cause it seems like you guys should be the conduit between, okay, here are all these companies that need these skills that we provide. As soon as you're done, we're going to drop you right into the interview process. Does that happen or do, are people sort of on their own once they graduate from the program?
Lilly (25m 43s):
So it's definitely three different things that happen. We're going to get companies that are going to come to me and say, Lilly, for example, Isaac who graduated from our Irvine campus, Isaac was with me for two years. He's amazing. He's now leaving to another company I can't compete with. I need to hire three more people. I want you to send me resumes. Okay. They hired three people to replace Isaac. Fantastic. We then have opportunities like, you know, the military apprenticeships that are happy at Amazon, right? Our job there is to make sure that our fellows are really well-prepared to compete for those internships. Right? So we do a whole host of things to make sure that they do very well. And then there are alumni that will say, Hey, my team is hiring.
Lilly (26m 26s):
I need someone who is willing to work east coast hours, who has FinTech background, DM me your resume and I'm going to put it in front of HR. And then there's the very important skill that you have to learn how to look for a job. Right?
Joel (26m 41s):
Lilly (26m 41s):
So we can't just drop people into positions and never have them understand what it's like to go through a technical interview because then for their second or third job, we're doing them a disservice. So it's a comprehensive approach in that if inbound leads come in, we're definitely gonna hook you up with them. But you also have to learn how to look for work. Because once you have that skillset, you're golden.
Chad (27m 2s):
Feature, man, how to fish.
Joel (27m 3s):
Are you able to double dip, get money from the students as well as the companies?
Lilly (27m 9s):
No. To date our student is our customer and I think that's really important because we don't want an employer saying, well, Lily, you know, we'll hire fellows, but make sure they're okay accepting $60,000 when I know the market rate is 70 interesting. And we don't want them to say, we'll make sure that we're going to put them under contract for two years and they can't leave. Cause that doesn't fly either. Right? If you get into a company you're doing well and you want to move, we are your number one advocate who's always going to help you. Not just for your first job, your second job, your third job. We actually have a couple of employers that get a little irritated with us because we do encourage our fellows to be very aggressive, in their job hunt in negotiating offers and in their second and third jobs.
Lilly (27m 50s):
And so they'll come back to me and they'll be like, Hey, you know, I hire your fellows, but they'll only stay with me a year. And I'm like, dude, if you're not paying them well, if you're not giving them growth opportunities, that's not my problem. That's your problem.
Chad (28m 2s):
Lily's a pit bull. Lily's a pit bull. I love it. I love it.
Joel (28m 7s):
One last one, Lily, you, you guys offer a fairly limited amount of programming languages. I see.net and node.
Lilly (28m 13s):
Yes, that is correct.
Joel (28m 14s):
Is that by design or will you be adding more? Like, why is it I guess so, so light on the languages and opportunities there?
Lilly (28m 23s):
It's light because we do full stack. So we're going to teach you how to do react along with C-sharp along with SQL server, and then you become a full stack software engineer. And then once you have that expertise, you're golden.
Joel (28m 40s):
Lilly (28m 40s):
Chad (29m 15s):