i had no idea the quality of candidates would be so high. in total you wrote 56,439 words.
sure, there were some "i've always wanted to code - pick me!" trolls, but the overwhelming majority of applications were:
- raw, genuine
- life stories w/ personal ups and downs
- expressions of skin in the game - how you're already challenging yourself and learning new skills
this made my initial rubric of avoiding "already great marketers, developers, or people wanting to break into tech" insufficient.
here are some new parameters i added throughout the process that helped narrow down 131 applicants to three:
imminence of launching something
if you seem to be optimizing for a current job or new title / promotion, this is not the right fit. i don't know how to be a good employee, i know how to be successfully unemployable. some of you are planning to launch something in a year, but i fear that's too long. so i prioritized candidates with existing ideas. to be clear: have a full-time job is great and did not impact scoring, this was a forward looking exercise.
products > services
i should have screened better in the announcement about agencies and consulting. while i spent years freelancing and launching a marketing agency myself, i simply do not have as much expertise in growing them as i do with digital products and SaaS business models. further, learning development is more suited for digital products, and programming is ~half the benefit of this scholarship.
some applicants mentioned wanting to grow their agency or niche lifestyle business. to me this means you might have limiting beliefs about what you're capable of. yes, it's perfectly fine to make enough cash to survive and shut down your laptop at 5pm. but, i want this program to create champions of industry. after all, it requires the same resource commitment from me no matter how far you push yourself.
spirit / motivation
a lot of applications talked about money. i love money. but on a few occasions i got the vibe that learning marketing or development was exclusively a stepping stone towards more money, which i don't think is a sustainable motivator. so, i gave preference to candidates with convictions about things that should exist vs wanting to travel, build savings, be less stressed, etc.
i'm still collecting my thoughts. as more patterns emerge i'll add them here.