Product School


After over 15 years in the technology industry as a front end developer / web application engineer, I wanted to make a change — to tack to starboard and sail on a different course. I wanted to have a much more significant impact on the things I work on. I love building things on the web for a wide variety of customers, in a huge spectrum of languages. After some investigation, I decided that product management was a good direction to explore. As a product manager, I'll be able leverage my experience, passion, and talents, while learning and applying entirely new skills.

To make this course change, I investigated various options until I discovered San Francisco's Product School. I applied for their eight-week product management course. My cohort started in September and met on Saturday mornings until early November. We were taught by Teo Zanella, a senior product manager at a health care startup.

The course is well-crafted and has no expectation of specific prior experience (many people are engineers, but some had other backgrounds). The exercises proved relevant and directly applicable to product development work. In fact, after my primary project for Product School, I'm using the homework assignment templates to frame my thinking on a couple of side projects that I'm working on.

I enjoyed the course, got a lot out of it, and would recommend it to others.

What I really enjoyed about the course:

  • My instructor was open for interruptions to clarify material. These clarifications deepened my understanding of unfamiliar (for me: especially on the business/marketing side) concepts.
  • The project focus of the course allowed the concepts taught to soak in and be applied directly to a single goal.
  • My colleagues were supportive of each other and came from diverse professional backgrounds.
  • The feedback of my colleagues and instructor helped me solidify my ideas and improve my presentations.
  • Mentor resume feedback proved indispensable, especially for those of us who needed to write a better PM-focused resume.

What I think could be improved for future cohorts:

  • The San Francisco location asked us to vacate the space pretty quickly after the end of the day. Future cohorts may find it helpful to have some time to chat after class in the space (or in the lunch room).
  • More one-on-one time with mentors in the field would be especially valuable.

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