Launch School’s Response to Covid-19

Launch School
Mar 22 · 4 min read

Dear Launch School Community,

We’ve always prided ourselves on having an intimate and intellectual community of learners. Though our school and curriculum are online, a platform meant for mass adoption, we’ve always insisted on being rigorous and having respect for practice and mastery. Therefore, our school has never been about mass adoption, but about cultivating a community who believe in deep learning. Over the years, this combination of mastery-focus and online-curriculum has resulted in an eclectic and global student body.

Due to the unprecedented global disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of our community members throughout the world have been adversely impacted. It may be easy to say that Launch School, being an online school, feels very little impact.

But Launch School is nothing without its community. As more students feel the growing negative effects of Covid-19, the collective Launch School community also starts to feel the negative impacts of this pandemic.

$25,000 for the Launch School Community

I’d like to introduce a few initiatives to assist our community in this urgent time. We’re going to announce $25,000 in initiatives that cover 3 areas: 1) hardship scholarships, 2) tuition-reimbursement work opportunities, and 3) no-interest loans. The amount may not seem like a lot for large companies, but Launch School is a small business and it’s a significant amount to us, especially since it translates to roughly 125 months at Launch School that we can subsidize for our students.

I’d like to also ask that you only apply for these if you really need it. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my time operating Launch School, it’s that many looking to transition into Software Engineering are in a vulnerable situation. This is why Launch School leans towards a rigorous curriculum and doesn’t do too much marketing — a rigorous curriculum is the only one that’s worth it in the end and we’re not here to market to vulnerable people. Since we have limited funds, please only apply if you are in that vulnerable population. If you’re unsure, ask us for assistance and explain your situation — we want to hear from you.

We’d like for you to apply if you recently lost income due to Covid-19. Specifically, we’d like to hear from you if the lost income has impacted your ability to study at Launch School or your ability to pay the subscription fee.

You must have been subscribed at least 3 months at Launch School to qualify. To apply to be considered for any of the 3 programs, please fill out this form.

Webinar: How to Navigate a Recession as a Software Engineers

It also looks like Covid-19 will be the catalyst that launches our global economy into the next recession. I’ll be hosting a webinar on March 24th at 1pm Pacific on “How to Navigate a Recession for Software Engineers”.

Over the course of my 18 year career in tech, I’ve had the interesting fortune of experiencing 2 recessions. Both marked periods of transition in my life: I graduated into the recession of 2001–2002 and kicked off my first startup in the recession of 2007–2009. I learned more during these periods than any other, and those recessions carved an indelible impression in how I view employment, learning, and career-planning.

It has also profoundly shaped how I’ve approached running Launch School for the past 8 years. If you’re a current student at Launch School, you’ve already been affected by recessions, because the curriculum you’re going through is a result of those experiences.

Now, all signs point to another recession right around the corner. In this talk, I’ll share some stories about what the previous two recessions felt like, what chaos I saw, and opportunities too. I’ll also share how it changed the way I view employment, learning/education, and managing one’s career.

This talk will be mostly geared towards Launch School students, but may also be useful to early career software engineers (<5 years). In fact, it might be interesting for anyone who hasn’t yet experienced a recession.

Register for free here.

A Note About the Upcoming Recession

If you’re a current Launch School student, you’re in the right place. Launch School has always been about learning things well and not glossing over details. It’s our opinion that in the long run, fanatical and precise attention to fundamentals are what unlock every advanced topic or framework down the line. Our results bear out this hypothesis.

It has been a struggle over the past 8 years to pitch this long-term mastery-focused mindset because the job market for programmers has been so good. Because landing a programming job was relatively easy, somehow the message of learning well and learning deeply became controversial. Why take so long and learn slowly when you can get a job after a few months of cramming? Why bother learning software engineering concepts when I can just spin up a React app and land an entry level job? Fortunately for us, many students found it unsatisfying to learn quickly for any random job and we’ve built a great community of dedicated learners who optimize for the long run. And that’s how we bootstrapped our school over the past 8 years in the bull market.

But now it looks like the economy will take a turn for the worse. In a downturn, the option of learning quickly to land an entry level job will no longer be a viable path. Entry level jobs will disappear and cramming a few months will no longer be sufficient.

Career transition into software engineering will now require that one master core fundamentals — that’s Launch School’s core competency. In good times, our pitch is to aim for higher salaries (a message that sometimes fell on deaf ears in a good economy). But in down times, it’s the only path forward.

Covid-19 has turned some of our worst-case projections into reality. Not only has it destroyed lives, it has also wrecked economies. But we’ll get through it.

Launch School was built specifically for this scenario.

Launch School

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