Q&A with Product School CEO on Online Education in 2019

Product Management certificates come in varying formats and schedules. In addition to on-site campuses, Product School offers its classes, live online. Both on-site and online classes are taught by real-world Product Managers who work at top technology companies such as Google, Facebook, PayPal, Airbnb, LinkedIn, and Netflix.

SwitchUp sat down with the Product School CEO to learn more about the online learning experience for Product Management students, how it compares to traditional in-person education, and more.

1. How is Product School different from other product management training programs?

While there are a lot of great training programs for prospective Product Managers, our edge comes from the breadth and depth of knowledge that we are able to provide our students. More specifically, our courses paired with the elite instructors create a learning environment that mirrors real-world product scenarios. More specifically, these instructors are real-life product managers who are hailing from companies such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon to name a few. 

Our goal is to prepare our students to make an immediate impact in the workforce upon receiving their certification. I can’t think of another program that equips aspiring PMs with this arsenal of skills that allows them to hit the ground running immediately. 

2. Tell us more about the virtual learning experience for students enrolled in Product School’s online product management course.

Online students with Product School Instructor, Hansan Luongo (2019)

Imagine being at your favorite cafe – or on the most comfortable sofa in your house (if that is your thing) – and receiving elite training from the best instructors in the world. This is the crux of the online learning experience. 

In addition to choosing where you want to learn, our online classes offer the same tested curriculum that thousands of our on-campus alumni utilize to jump-start their Product Management careers. This dynamic online experience gives our students the ability to interact with the instructor and classmates in real-time. To sum it up succinctly, this is not a recorded session that only gives you static options for participation.  

  • How is the online course similar to the in-person course?

The online curriculum is exactly the same as the in-person courses. Online students will also have an equal student to professor ratio, plus all the benefits that come with registration(career assistance, one-on-one mentorship, plus much more). 

  • How is the online course different?

The glaringly obvious answer is that the online class does not require you to be physically present for the courses. The more subtle difference is that this ability choose where you learn gives students the advantage of increased flexibility. This was a critical addition for us because not everyone is afforded the luxury of being located near one of 20 campuses. Now, anyone can work on their PM dreams anywhere and anytime. 

3. What are your top tips for virtual students to be successful?

I would tell them to stay hungry and proactive. Online courses sometimes can cause people to become complacent, which can be the biggest roadblock to success. That being said, we continue to create free resources (like The Product Book, The Product Podcast, etc) in order to keep our students and community as engaged as possible. From joining our Slack Channel that has over 41k product experts, to being able to stream our conferences from the comfort of your office, we really strive to have our students locked in and ready to make a change in the world of Product. 

4. What are the key takeaways of Product School’s Product Management course?

Students who complete our courses can feel confident that they’ll walk away with these key points:

  • They will be able to establish trust horizontally and vertically within the business
  • Their listening skills will be professional and impactful
  • Their ability to empathize will be a strong asset for solving problems
  • Developing vision and a path towards that vision will be one of their strongest tools
  • They will be adept at managing groups, and counteracting the effects of Groupthink  

These are just a few, but this list of takeaways could stretch across the entire page. We know that the ultimate takeaway is that our students are ready to face nearly any Product challenge that will be thrown their way. 

5. What type of background do Product School’s instructors have?

One of the reasons we’ve had success with our classes is due to the top-tier instructors that we have on board. Each one of them has been tested in real-world product scenarios while working for some of the most elite companies in the industry. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Airbnb are just a few of the companies that we can name drop, but students can rest assured that each instructor is a vetted professional.  

  • Why is it important for students to learn from real-world product managers?

There are too many courses out there that are promising to turn their students into Product Management experts, but till the end fail to give them the tools they need to face and succeed in the ultra-competitive workforce. 

That is exactly why we want our students to train with Product Professionals who have first-hand experience with real-world scenarios. Everything our students learn will translate to a skill that will be applicable in their future Product jobs. 

6. What certificate do students finish their product management course with?

Product Leadership certificate

That all depends on how far our students want to go with developing their new skills! As of right now, our students who complete our initial Product Management course will receive a Product Management Certificate (PMC™). For those who complete this 40-hour course, there is the option to move onto the next phase of training which, upon completion, awards students with the Full-Stack Product Management Certificate. 

The final phase for those who want to take their skills to the top-most level is the Product Leadership Certificate. All combined, the total time to achieve all three of these certificates is 100 hours. Once certified, students will be ready for any scenario they may face in the Product Sphere. 

7. Tell us more about the network student’s benefit from during and after their course.

Our network of Product People is one of the most powerful resources that our students will have access to. Our Slack Channel alone has over 41K community members who are eager to interact, network, and collaborate, and this is just a fraction of the total number of members in our entire Product School community.

Students also have free access to ProductCon — the largest product management conference in the world that we host 5 times annually — where they can talk face-to-face with thousands of elite professionals from top companies.  

The reality is that from the day that our students sign up, they are being connected to a community of like-minded people who want to help them succeed, and there won’t ever be a shortage of opportunities to interact. 

8. Anything else you’d like to share?

I want to remind people that staying proactive and hungry for more knowledge is one of the best things you can do for yourself (as well as for those around you). There is no limit on the amount you can learn, and the more you absorb, the more you will be able to give back.

Meet Carlos González

Carlos González de Villaumbrosia is the Founder of Product School, originally based in San Francisco. Product School was founded in 2014 and now maintains 20 campuses around the world where they offer certifications in Product Management, Full-Stack Product Management, and Product Leadership. They organize events discussing innovations in the software and technology space.

In 2018, Carlos launched ProductCon, a series of Product Management conferences attended by thousands of professionals in New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and London. Carlos also co-authored The Product Book in 2017.

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