Screaming in the Cloud

Episode 32: Lambda School: A New Approach to “Hire Ed”

Are you interested in computer science? How would you like to go to school for free and learn what you need to in just a few months? Then, check out Lambda School!

Today, we’re talking to Ben Nelson, co-founder and CTO of Lambda School, which is a 30-week online immersive computer science academy. Lambda School has more than 500 students and takes a share of future earnings instead of traditional debt. So, it's free until students get a job.

Some of the highlights of the show include:

  • Bootcamps were created to address engineering shortages and quickly move people into technical careers
  • Lambda is not explicitly a bootcamp; its 30-week program gives students more instructions and more time spent on developing a portfolio
  • Lambda also makes time to cover computer science fundamentals; teaches C, Python, Django, and relational database - not just JavaScript
  • Employers appreciate the school’s in-depth and advanced approach, which results in repeat hires
  • Lambda avoids the typical reputation of traditional for-profit educational institutions by being mission-driven and knowing its investors want ROI
  • Lambda aligns its incentives with those of students; an income share agreement means the school doesn’t make money, unless students are successful
  • Lambda’s 7-month program is less of a risk for someone later in their career; some don't have capital to support their family while going to school for 4 years
  • Lambda incentivizes healthy financial habits; after two years of repayment, students can put that money into retirement, savings, and investments
  • 5 Tracks Now Offered by Lambda: iOS development, UX, Full Stack Web development, data science, and Android development
  • Mastery Based Progression System: When you're learning something sequentially, where knowledge builds, you don't move on until you’ve mastered it
  • Lambda’s acceptance rate is around 5% and based on people who can keep up
  • Lambda works with different partner companies to help them find qualified graduates - people they want to hire


Brought to you by Corey Quinn of Screaming in the Cloud