In this interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Brian Dusape, an alum of our June 2021 cohort. He secured a role as an Associate Product Manager after returning to School16 and completing one of our Advanced Learning Concentrations!
Before you joined School16 you earned your master's degree in Information Systems Management. What were your plans with that degree?
I didn't know what path I wanted to take after I graduated, other than work in technology. I had a lot of options with that degree but I was never exposed to product management. I was a full time student, working full time, and there wasn't much work opportunity to get hands-on experience.
And then you found School16! What convinced you to sign up for the program?
Vadim and Sergei reached out to me and explained the mission in a really genuine way. They were very attentive to learning where I was at in my work journey. I’ve taken boot camp programs in the past but didn’t get a lot of facetime with staff after I signed up.
What moments during the tech accelerator program stand out to you?
Learning how modern tech startups and businesses are structured and how each function works together wasn’t something I got from my master’s program.
That was a really cool moment because once the career development portion of the program began, I could see how I could transfer the skills I had from my previous work background to the field I wanted to enter.
Did you leave the program sold on working in product management?
I know I needed more than the class modules to fully understand the role. After School16, I continued talking to people in the field to understand their work: pros and cons of their role, and advice.
I joined a 10-week fellowship program, which was nice. I heard from experienced product managers and had a mentor.
I was still working in finance at the time and still wasn’t getting enough exposure to product management work. That’s when I considered going back to School16.
You did come back! How did the Advanced Learning Concentration (ALC) connect to the product management role you have now?
I entered the program focused on building a portfolio of projects. I also learned the value in opening myself up to new ideas when I’m working on a product. That prepared me for my next role, interning for the mortgage company AmeriSave. I understood that I might come into a situation with the solution already and need to check my own bias.
I also saw the importance of weak ties in the industry.
Closed mouths don’t get fed. No matter how many materials I study or how many podcasts I listen to, speaking with people in the field can give you so much insight into how working life really is.
A lot of people get jobs from referrals that they’ve connected with. Taking the initiative to connect with other people shows you’re confident in the value you can provide to an organization you’re interested in.
School16 taught me how to fish, instead of just giving me a fish. Now, I’m an Associate Product Manager at Valley Bank.
You can connect with Brian on LinkedIn, here.