Jolt is a tech-oriented business school which aims to allow you to study without having to completely halt your career. Jolt currently have campus locations in the UK, US and Israel, though given their pivot to online learning as a result of social distancing restrictions, their classes are now accessible to anyone with a good internet connection. There were classmates based in Sierra Leone, Egypt, and Tunisia during my course.
The school’s initial product was an alternative MBA program, aimed to challenge traditional business schools. However during early 2020, acknowledging the demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic, they developed the Switch course to help people get jobs in the technology industry – one of the few sectors benefiting from the pandemic that has increased its hiring. The syllabus includes a wide range of topics covering soft skills, technology industry knowledge and how to secure a new role (e.g., enhancing your CV, LinkedIn page, and interview prep).
There are two formats of study, with both options covering the same content. The first is full-time over 5 weeks; the second being part-time, with 3 hours of study 2 evenings per week, taking 21 weeks to complete. I opted for the part-time course, so I could study while working.
The course is given through Zoom and everyone is expected to have their cameras on, which increases the group’s engagement and participation. You are part of a stable group throughout the course, and there is a Teacher Assistant allowing the lecturers to focus just on teaching. Therefore, Switch feels almost like a real class instead of re-watching an old lecture online or doing a course alone on Coursera or EdX. If you miss a class, Jolt gives you the opportunity to join a different group to take that specific class.
Having signed up on a bit of a whim, I didn’t really know what to expect from the course. However I was pleasantly surprised when ahead of time I was given access to our student portal, with details of the upcoming lectures, and invited to Slack so I could meet my fellow students. Upon joining the first session, I was struck by just how diverse everyone was, coming from a wide range of different countries, backgrounds and professions – this would remain a highlight throughout the course.
I was also really impressed by the overall quality of the lecturers themselves. Each session was run by an expert in their role within the technology industry and were able to provide real-world examples, preparing you for the types of scenarios that you’ll find in your prospective new role. The classes felt more practical and current than a theoretical class from a university professor.
The syllabus itself is broad so you can be assured that the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the group will be tested. Topics range from technical (Google Analytics, Unit Economics), to theoretical (Lean Start-ups, Growth Hacking), and personal development (Story Telling, Salary Negotiation). At the end of the course, you should comfortably be able to discuss any industry topic at a high level and feel more confident that you can transfer your existing skills to a new industry.
There is also a practical component to the course. You’ll be expected to update your CV and LinkedIn profile following the respective lectures, which will then be reviewed by a recruitment expert. There’s also a presentation that you’ll be asked to give at the end of the course on your experience and career aspirations; while the purpose of this task wasn’t always clear to me, the tailored advice I received from the review panel at the end was very useful. A few of the benefits that I understood post-facto from the final project are practicing public speaking, reflecting on the roles and sectors that I would like to work in, as well as thinking about the strengths, experiences, and transferable skills that I can offer.
Areas for Improvement
The Switch course is clearly still finding its rhythm and Jolt are trying to adapt how they work to the current remote learning environment. Information was sometimes given late, lecturers would cancel last minute and deadlines weren’t always clear. However, given Jolt’s obsession with obtaining feedback, I’m sure they will continue to work on improving the logistics of the program over time.
Jolt’s strength lies in their network of industry contacts, particularly the inside knowledge plus enthusiasm that the lecturers bring. More mechanisms could be put in place to leverage this network to support students in gaining access to job opportunities or getting insights about different firms in the industry.
Overall: I would definitely recommend the Switch course to anyone looking to transition into the technology industry, interested in starting their own business, or simply looking to improve their business and technology skills
Value for money: I paid £1,500, with a special offer; I think that’s really good value for 80+ contact hours
Enjoyability: My fellow students, along with the support team, made the whole course really fun and engaging, even when 3 hours of learning is the last thing you want to do after a hard day at work
Usefulness: All the lectures were tailored to shifting career direction and there was usually plenty of time to ask questions if you wanted to know more