Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Competition and an Experience from a Student

I had a partner that I have been dealing with for years.  When the consulting model was bringing people from India and placing them, they did very well and in fact have about 210 consultants still working for them.

But recently they have entered into the training and placement model that VXL Training specializes in.  I know what I do looks easy, but it is not.  I work weekends, I pick up the phone no matter what the time is (as long as I am awake), I constantly monitor my teachers and use only the very best in the technologies that I teach in.  I do so much work, because I know that my students come to me with the knowledge that 90% of my students get jobs, and keeping that ratio high means success not just for me but for whole families that depend on my students.  What I do changes people lives.  I take that responsibility very seriously.

Anyway this partner (now former partner) started a MicroStrategy class and they wanted me to give them a few students, so I gave them 2 students into this class.  When I recruit students and put them into a training, weather it is mine or not, my students expect results.  The students finished the class, of course my partners did not monitor the class, did not take feedback from the class, all they did was just start the class and left everything up to the teacher.

After the class was over and the students had been practicing and felt they were ready for the interview the teacher basically disappeared.  He would not pick up the phone, he would not answer emails, if you called from a different phone number he would pick up the phone then say he was busy and hang up.

In the final analysis both of the students that I recruited for that class did not get a job and as soon as the class was over the teacher disappeared.  I trusted my partners to deliver the same level of quality of training and support that I do, but they did not.  They failed my students, me and VXL's reputation.

I looked at their ad for FREE training in and other places and I see that they are offering $300-$400 per month stipend.  My question is, does that $300-$400 a month matter, when they do not take your career or the training seriously, when they do not monitor the training.  They expect to recruit a large number of students place 1-2 out of a batch of 10 and declare themselves a financial success, because all they care about is financial success and not your success.

Trust me, that is not a group that you want to deal with.

(I wrote this about 1 month back.  1 of the 2 students is currently in my BA batch and is doing excellent and will be placed student.  I know there is a lot of repetition from the story I wrote earlier, but I felt it was important.  I was so mad when they failed my 2 students that I wrote this story right after it happened, but I did not say anything since the other company was owned by friends of mine.)


I actually had a student come in and thank me for our great SAP FICO teacher.  She is learning so much and is very confident after just 4 weeks with us.  I agree that our SAP FICO teacher is someone that is very special.  He cares about you, he provides every spare moment he has for his students, I always felt that I should work hard as an example to my students and teachers, but the amount of work he does is simply awe-inspiring.

Thank you so much for the great SAP FICO class that just finished.

I was writing this entry and I get a call from a few of my masters students that our teacher had shown up at the guest house to teach them.  He was free for a few hours and he wanted to use that time to teach our students that he felt needed a little help.  I am not even sure what to say, Thank You is so easily used.  But really, THANK YOU SO MUCH for all your efforts and the dedication you have shown to our students.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Training - The New Breed of Companies

For a long time there were very few people that did consultant level IT training.  It was not very lucrative and it was much easier to make money by bringing qualified consultants from India.  In the past about 99% of the consulting companies survived on bringing qualified candidates over from India and by being very good with paperwork and knowing how to get H1B approvals.  That avenue has been closed for almost 2 years now for smaller consulting companies (below 500 employees).  Since these type of companies have no other avenues of growth they have now decided that they are now going to train and place masters students.

The problem I have with all these small consulting companies that now offer training if that they really do not care about the welfare of the student.  They have been making money over the last 10 years so they have the wherewithal to hire recruiting staff, trainers and rent larger office space to accommodate training rooms, but that does not mean that they can be successful in training and placement of students.  The office will look great, there will be lots of students milling around because they would have joined without knowing any better.  But the Latin phrase applies so apropos here, Caveat emptor.  Yes Buyer Beware.  You are putting you career, your valuable productive youthful years in the hands of nothing more than charlatans.

I have met the owners of lots of these consulting companies and about the only thing they care about is making money and sending it back to India to buy more land, that is it.  Since they have been in the consulting business for a long time and they have lots of money to able to market and try the training and placement business.  They will get lots of students sucked into training and about 10-20% of the students get placed.  These are the students that would have gotten placed anyway simply because they are smart.

An Example:

There was a student that went to one of these companies for training in Microstrategy and yes they did offer free training, free accommodations and were offering a stipend of $400 a month.  But after 2 months of training, which happened on and off, the teacher simply vanished, after he got his money.  He would not pick up his phone, and if she called from another phone would pick up recognize the voice and say he was busy or simply hang up.  The company did provide exactly what they said they would, but there was no follow up with the student to make sure that she was taught and supported properly.  There was no teacher evaluation, there was no process flow that was outlined and followed.  Anyone can make mistakes, but as long as there is an identification of the problems with a proactive approach to fixing an issue, their training will never improve.  It is one thing to teach someone with a blind eye and something completely different to teach, mentor, market, place and support them on the job.  Training and Placement is a constant evolutionary process, you must be fully embedded in the process  to identify what works and what doesn't.

Now this student is with us and is training in our BA class and she is doing extremely well and I am sure that she will be placed within 1 month, max.  She is an American Citizen and is very bright and I happy that she is with us so that we can help her.

I think I got off on a tangent.  VXL Training has been specializing in training only for a long time and now that the market place is offering us opportunities, we have expanded into consulting.  We offer real training, with teachers that have been with us for years, and all our consultants excel on the job once we place them.

My final advice to all you kids that are looking for training is to look for companies that have been doing training for a long time and not have added this element recently.

What Masters Students Should Look For in a Consulting Company:

1)      Companies that have been Training and Placing Students with a track record of at least 5 years.
2)      Management actually shows up on the weekends when the classes are conducted.
3)      If you live nearby, do a site visit and talk to existing students in training
4)      Make sure that they have direct deposit of salaries.
5)      Make sure they have plans for measured growth.  They should have plans to grow in a technology vertical and/or have plans for bidding on projects.  But they should want to become more than just a desi-consulting company.
6)      Make sure that management attends conferences and stays up to date on the latest technology
7)      Make sure that they use licensed software if it available.

I will explain tomorrow why each of these points is very important.