I have built many internet businesses and in all of these ventures the challenge is always the same: hiring the right people. And of course I am not alone in this. I know that my friends who are also active internet entrepreneurs, people like Niklas Zennström, Tariq Krim, Marc Samwer, David Sifry, Anil De Mello, Sergey Brin, Janus Friis, Loic Le Meur, Brent Hoberman, Lars Hinrichs, and others see hiring well trained smart employees as probably the most important element of their business strategy.
Unfortunately, the best schools in the world have not adapted to the digital world and are not able to educate students for the digital future. Presently there’s a serious mismatch between what digital employers want and what universities train people for. It is for this reason that I am thinking about starting the Digital Academy of Madrid. At this moment this is just an idea which came out of a conversation with Alejandro Piscitelli who runs Educ.ar who had it and it is in the early exploration stage. This idea also comes from my 11 year teaching experience as part time professor at Instituto de Empresa.
The Digital Academy of Madrid would be a 2 year program starting with 50 students per year and growing to 100 students per year. The program would be a Master´s in Digital Studies but while undergraduate studies would be considered a plus in the admissions process there would be no formal admissions criteria. The Digital Academy, for example, would be happy to take David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, who quit high school at 15 and is now 21, as a student…or maybe….as a teacher.
The Digital Academy would be in English and all professors but the Dean, would be part time. Other than teaching they would be active internet professionals who may come to Madrid for short periods to teach crash courses.
The 2 year program would consist on a first year that is common to all students and would be heavily oriented towards programming in all the most common languages currently in use to develop digital properties as well as a deep understanding of the functioning of the Internet.
For their second year students would choose among three specializations: hacking, building, sharing (programming, design, business). The Hacking route would aim at producing the best programmers out there. The Building Route would aim at producing project managers who can put together complex internet based products. The Sharing Route will be chosen by those students who want to learn more about how to manage the business aspect of digital ventures, how to fund them, grow them and make them profitable.
The cost of attending the Digital Academy in Madrid will be similar to the cost of American colleges but for 2 instead of 4 years.
Graduates would get jobs in high tech companies or start their own internet companies. Professors at the Digital Academy would get both the ability to train, recruit and invest with the students.
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