Targeted Technical Training
Does a degree give you the coding skills employers need? Not really. V School links training directly to market skills required.
MO is an experienced has worked in the education field for 15 years, with a strong focus on technical and coding education. He started with degrees in Communication and then Marketing. Then quickly moved into the instructional/administrative side of the house. As a Campus Director, he helped transform thinkers into creators and started his focus on bringing graduated students into the marketplace. He then focused on training new coders. Now, he is the Co-Founder and COO of V School, where the school works hand-in-hand with employers like Google and Apple to ensure their students receive the training that give the skills the industry needs.
LinkedIn: MO Reeder
Listen to the podcast here:
Read Along as Karla and MO Discuss A New Way To Run A Coding School
Karla Nelson: And welcome to the People Catalyst podcast, Mo Reeder.
Mo Reeder: Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
Karla Nelson: I’m super excited about what you’ve got going on. And before we get talking about V School and this really incredible impact school, let’s just chat about what your entrepreneurial journey is. We all have one, right. And where you got started and how did you end up launching V School?
Mo Reeder: Sure. Thank you for the opportunity. So for me, I’ve been in education my entire career, helping people in various ways, from an academic counselor to enrollments, and essentially through each school, I’ve had really great mentorship and I’ve learned a lot. But oftentimes you learn what you want to do when it’s your turn. And you also learn what you don’t want to do when it’s your turn. And so with that collective experience, when it was finally our turn, my partner and I, Michael Zaro, we were obsessed with creating the best version of what we’d seen across the country.
So again, had been working for various schools, various institutions, and now that we have the opportunity to run our own educational company, we want to do it the right way. And of course, the right way is with the student in mind, the student’s best interests.
Karla Nelson: Fantastic. So essentially you worked with other education in schools and then you decided to launch your own. So how long have you had V School, and share a little bit about the background with it because it’s pretty exceptional.
Mo Reeder: Thank you. Yeah. So each step in my career has led me closer to this, and I guess it gets more and more technical. And so I thought I was offered my dream job. I won’t mention the institution, but I met with the Dean of this institution and it was up the street from my home, I could walk there, and she’s much smarter than I am. And so I had a ton of respect, still have a ton of respect for this individual. And of course for this school in California. And I pitched her and I basically said, “Look, we should be teaching coding. We should be teaching UX design.” And this was, I guess, six years ago, seven years ago. And the response was, “That’s a good idea, but we’d probably rather stay with IT, or we’d rather stay with criminal justice, or business classes,” which are still, of course, very important and relevant. But there’s this massive space and opportunity for tech specifically to learn a skillset like coding. These jobs pay a lot and-
Karla Nelson: And just that area keeps on expanding and expanding in so many different ways. I mean, when we first met, I said, “Okay, define tech,” because it used to mean one thing, and now it means 150 different things.
Mo Reeder: That’s right. And so for me, rather than taking that job with that institution, I decided to go to a boot camp, a coding bootcamp, and I ran this coding bootcamp in San Francisco. One of the largest, if not the largest in the country. And from that, I’ve learned a ton of experience. And so when it was finally my turn to start V School and to run V School with my partner, again, it’s been an awesome opportunity to do right by people. And to offer the right programs that are directly connected with industry. So the worst thing we could ever be as a credit-
Karla Nelson: I like that. The program is … That’s really keeping the student in mind to have the program be connected to an industry, simply because how many people go to college for four years and then they have to learn everything from the ground up based off of what that company is and how they’re utilizing a certain technology. So do you work with those companies in mind, and then have kind of placement as well?
Mo Reeder: We do. And so, again, accreditation is the worst thing that we could ever shoot for. It’s a lot of red tape. It makes sense for a private university or for a state school. But for us, accreditation is basically validation by industry. So we care what Google says. We care what Facebook says, what Pluralsight says.
So our advisors and our company tell us, essentially, we’ve got friends at these organizations and companies that say, “This is what we hire for.” This is the job rec, this is specifically the skill set that someone would need to have to get a job at Facebook or a Google. And so we work our curriculum backward in the process. So we write our curriculum based on what industry needs right now.
Karla Nelson: That’s cool. That makes so much sense. And everybody continues to, I’ve heard this for probably the last, I don’t know, 10 years, that we need more vocational schools. But I really like the whole focus of vocation and technology, and then reverse engineering what somebody needs to know so that you’re teaching them what they’re going to need to know when they’re then on the job. Not having to relearn something simply because no, our application is this, even though you’ve got a four year, six year degree.
Mo Reeder: Right. In that, you’re dead right. It’s taking six years to graduate these days. It’s taking a hundred thousand dollars to graduate these days. And that’s absolutely crazy. Some schools, I think, do a good job of connecting people to industry afterwards with some introductions and connections. But by and large, you go to school and you get a bunch of curriculum … You basically pay for a huge info dump of curriculum, which some is important, other info might not be.
Karla Nelson: Others, it’s because it’s in the book.
Mo Reeder: Sure. And then now what? Where do I start? What do I do? And how do I … I think what the world needs less of is history majors. Where are the jobs for history majors? I went to school to learn communications. Super important and valuable in a lot of ways, but there was no connection at the end to industry. We had to figure that out on our own. And we’re trying to make that super simple for students these days to understand. We directly connect them.
Karla Nelson: So your background was communications and then you shifted and are now teaching through your school, the accreditation of a technology and applications of technology that specific companies that are looking to hire people within technology. That’s super cool. It makes so much sense. And I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t focus on the skills that are necessary instead of doing this big data dump. It seems like school in the past … I mean, there needs to be reform around that because just like you said, a hundred thousand dollars in debt and then you still are starting at the very bottom.
Mo Reeder: Right. And who’s to say that everyone learns the same way. So what might take someone, some people have to work, whether that’s full-time, part-time. Some people have to raise a family. People have very specific needs and everybody’s life is complex in its own way. So for us, it’s not time-based, it’s mastery-based. So you don’t move to a different level in our curriculum until you master that level, and you move at your own pace, and it’s asynchronous with just-in-time mentorship.
So you can go to school when you want to go to school, but then when you raise your hand, there’s someone there to help you, digitally. We’ve got people around the clock, making sure our mentors and our teachers, making sure you don’t have to hit your head against the keyboard for hours and hours trying to figure out a problem. We’ll help you with that. Anyway, time-based is really dumb.
Karla Nelson: That’s really cool. Time-based. Because essentially, when you go, “Oh yeah, I’ve got a four year degree.”
Mo Reeder: What do you know?
Karla Nelson: And even when you think about education, first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense when you realize that people are different, just like you said. And they learn in different ways, and they’re stimulated by different things, and they have different strengths on top of it. We’re all different. And that’s the great part about it, that we are all different.
At the same time, I think we approach education with this one size fits all application. I think that’s super cool what you guys are doing with that. So can you share with us an example of the average timeframe to then learn and master the skills that you’re teaching, as well as what that would potentially look like as far as the job front goes, too?
Mo Reeder: Sure. So the average student is coming in with little or no experience at all in coding or design. That’s user experience design. UX and UI design, project management, and then computer science. They’re coming in with no experience or very little, maybe they’ve done some Khan Academy, or code.org, or something or other. And when they come to us, we basically do a diagnostic. We look at your past experience. If you were an engineer in the Army, if you have customer service, whatever you’re doing, everyone has their own skill. And rather than dismissing all of that life experience, we figured out how to weave that into your new technical experience and-
Karla Nelson: Oh, that’s super cool.
Mo Reeder: And depending on what you do…
Karla Nelson: There’s so many different applications. You don’t just have to code. You also have the people that are project managers or individuals that are customer facing. That’s really cool.
Mo Reeder: And all that will lead to someone getting a job, their dream job. Doing what they love doing every single day. So everybody needs coders, everybody needs designers. And so that technical skillset, plus what you did in your previous life and what you do every single day and love doing, that marriage really helps us place people fast. And so by the time you end up leaving V School, you don’t actually graduate until you have a job. So you stick with us as long as you need to.
The average person is spending maybe six months with us, five months. And when you leave V School, you’re employed. And so in that last level, towards that month, three, four, five, depending on how long you need, we’re basically pairing you with industry and we’re building a portfolio with you. And so you have real experiences with real companies, your LinkedIn’s looking awesome, and by the time you end up graduating or getting a job, you have multiple projects under your belt, and a really nice portfolio to show your new employer.
Karla Nelson: Very cool. So can you share a little bit about the type of job description or job titles that you look at? Because you just made me think of that. We say technology and it means 150 different things. But there’s different people that do completely different things, all within that vertical of technology. And it seems it’s just getting bigger and bigger, right? Because technology wasn’t setting appointments before. It is now, right? All the integration, even. I could just go on and on. So can you share a little bit about the type of job titles, job descriptions, that kind of thing, within tech that you guys facilitate training for?
Mo Reeder: Sure. And we hope to offer more courses in the future. We basically focus right now on computer science, coding, web development, and UX design. And the reason we do that, there’s some really shiny, flashy, cool things out there. Rather than just jump at whatever’s flashy and cool, we basically watch Silicon Slopes, which is our Utah, Rocky Mountain, Wasatch Mountain area really closely. And then Silicon Valley, what’s happening in San Francisco.
Karla Nelson: I don’t have that Silicon Slopes. It’s so true. There’s so many large tech companies that moved recently to Salt Lake.
Mo Reeder: So much. And if you focus on what’s happening in San Francisco, what’s happening in Austin and New York. If you look at these tech hubs and see what’s happening, and we work with people within those hubs to basically create curriculum and an experience that someone can get a job quickly. That’s really what we do. So we’re offering courses right now that have jobs open for them right now. Hundreds and hundreds of jobs for those specific students.
So for us, the kind of jobs that that students are getting are designer, UX designer, UI designer, project manager, front end developer, full stack developer, backend developer, all those kind of things. A coder, developer, anything within that space. And our students, they’re job ready and they’re ready for a junior level role in industry.
So they’re not going to come in as a senior designer. They’re going to come in as a junior, and over time, you build that experience. And there’s no board that sits on top of it all and decides who’s a senior, who’s a junior, whatever. It’s up to the company that decides that. And certainly the individual, over time, graduates when you’re … Everyone just knows when that happens. But people, at least they’ll go into the industry as a junior level designer or coder.
Karla Nelson: Very cool. Well, Mo, how can our listeners, and viewers now, we actually used to only do audio on our podcast and everybody kept on asking for a video because we’re stuck at home and we’d rather watch a video than listen to the podcast in our cars. But how can they get ahold of you and learn more about V School?
Mo Reeder: We have some amazing scholarships right now. This year, we’re really focused on leveling the playing field and getting as many people involved in tech that want to be as possible. And so that looks like a COVID scholarship. We’re offered $6,000 COVID relief scholarship. This is for folks that have been financially affected. So many hardworking folks in America have been affected by COVID. So if you’re looking to re-skill, if you’re not working where you want to work, or you’re not working at all, this is an opportunity.
We have a veterans scholarship that’s also available for dependents, active service members, men and women in the field, and then also veterans that come back from the military. We have a scholarship for them as well, $6,000 off tuition.
And then we also have a diversity and inclusion scholarship that focuses again on women, veterans, folks of color, people that historically have had less access to this type of education. We’re making it more affordable for anyone and everyone to get involved.
And of course that’s what companies want. When a team is more diverse, the product is better, the conversations are better, the team, for lack of a better word, synergy. All of that’s better and there’s more color, and there’s more diversity around those teams. So that’s basically what we’re trying really hard to do. And to find those scholarships, you just go to www.vschool. So that’s V like Victor, school.io. And I’m Mo Reeder. M-O R-E-E-D-E-R. You can find me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to connect with anybody and everybody. Let’s make friendships, let’s not make connections. When we’re able to have a cup of something warm, let’s do that, if you’re local. If you’re digital, we’ll cheers digitally and we’ll drink something warm and get to know each other. So I’m on Twitter, obviously, LinkedIn, wherever you find me.
Karla Nelson: We’ll make sure we include the links in the transcript as well. So Mo, thanks so much for being on today, and thank you for all you’re doing.
Mo Reeder: My goodness, it’s my pleasure. I wouldn’t be doing anything else. Thank you.