Product Leaders of Tomorrow – Interview with Product School Alumnus Jesus Cagide

Before Jesus Cagide began his studies with Product School, his biggest question was: “What even IS Product Management?”. Today, he works as a Product Manager at PayPal.

Product School recently caught up with Jesus Cagide to talk about his time as a student. In particular, we wanted to know exactly how Jesus landed his dream Product Management job at PayPal.

The edited transcript of that conversation is below. No matter where you are on your Product Management journey, you’ll no doubt discover some useful insights to help you plan your next move.

What Was Your Goal When You Started at Product School?

My startup got acquired, and in the process of the acquisition, I was asked to move from my original CTO role to become a Product Manager. At that moment, I asked myself “What even is a Product Manager!?” It was the first time that I had heard this term. I didn’t know where to start.

I started checking online. The moment I came to Silicon Valley, I started attending Meetups, many of which were run by Product School. I wanted to know, as Product Manager: am I taking the correct steps? Am I performing correctly? I wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing.

Everyone at the Product School meet-up had their own background. Some were from companies like Google and Facebook. Some were from startups. There’s a huge difference, but they all owned the Product. After meeting these people, I decided to enroll in Product School.

How Did the Diversity of Students Enrich the Experience for You?

There was a batch of 20 to 25 people in my class, all with very diverse backgrounds. To my surprise, there were many people there who also had experience in Product. There were people who wanted to transition into Product, there were engineers, startup founders, there was even a Product Manager from Cisco who had five years experience!

One thing I love about Silicon Valley is that people really have a hunger to learn more. We all shared experiences with each other. We compared notes about what was working in our various companies, and what wasn’t.

After class, we’d all have an amazing bonding experience. We’d grab a coffee after class and organize study groups like in college, and we ended up as good friends. Thanks to this, I ended up with an amazing network of Product Managers that I would later call on for help when I wanted to make a career move.

How Were the Classes – Were They Like Traditional Lectures or More Hands-On?

The class was very interactive. There were slides that the instructor would talk through, but discussions would quickly evolve. We’d talk through different aspects of Product Management – How to create a persona. How you create a story. How you identify your superpowers. Everyone would describe their different situations and ask real-world questions. There’d be a lot of debate.

The best thing about the instructor was that he was very curious. Whenever he learned anything in his work, he’d share the new insights and ideas with us. Whenever any of us had a specific situation, he’d want to learn more and make himself available to debate and discuss the problem with us.

How Important are the Side Projects and Homework?

Everyone has to create a final project. You choose whatever you want to do. Some people had ideas for their own products. Others like me implemented things related to the companies we worked in – real problems and projects that we would actually implement and use to enrich our work.

I would interact a lot with the instructor on Slack. He was always around to answer questions, debate and give advice. Different students from different backgrounds had challenges in different areas, but we’d all help each other through.

When you expose your presentation to the class, people will challenge your hypothesis. This is great because it’s what actually happens when you’re a Product Manager! So the environment is real, and we’re working on real products.

How Did You Get a Product Management Job at PayPal?

After I finished my Product School course I was working in a startup focused on analytics. I wanted to make a career move. I reached out to all my Product School friends who worked as PMs in different companies like Google, Facebook, Workday and PayPal.

I told them “I’m ready to make my next move. Let’s grab a coffee and you can tell me about your company.” Specifically, I was looking for a job in Data Product Management. I wanted a very specific career with a company that shared certain values.

After multiple coffees with my Product School friends, I had narrowed it down to PayPal vs Workday. For two months, I prepared myself. The first month was intensive study on the nature of the job I wanted and the companies themselves. The second month was focused on mock-up interviews. For this, I again made use of my Product School network. I called up my friends and asked them to block out 30 minutes to give me a practice interview.

When I knew I was ready, I sent in my applications. Thanks to all of the preparation, I nailed the interview at PayPal and got the exact Product Management job that I wanted.

Are you a Product School Alumnus? Would you like to share your experience or ask any question to Product School Alumni? Comment below!

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