Orbital Studios are communities of practice for product, design and engineering managers, leaders and practitioners. Since 2016, we've gathered 250+ people from 100 companies to learn from and with their peers across the industry.
Some overall insights from past participants:
Talking through your challenges with others is valuable, and doesn’t need to be about finding a solution. Sometimes just fresh perspectives can help, especially when you are so close to the issue yourself.―Engineering Director
Being a manager is both a unique and yet incredibly shared experience. We all have different team members and different situations that we tackled on our own, often with little guidance, but have very similar lessons.―Engineering Manager
There’s a lot to learn from other people and industries that’s applicable to the problems we’re trying to solve. It’s so important to make time to meet new people, hear their stories and get inspired vs. getting tunnel vision.―Product Manager
Orbital convenes, builds and facilitates communities of practice.
We identify and gather relevant groups of peers (who don't all work at your company), and then create an environment conducive to thoughtful dialogue on substantive issues pertaining to your work.
We’re not an instructional course, a coaching service or a training program (all of which are important).
Rather, our focus is on creating a judgment-free zone where you can be open and honest about the challenges you face in your day-to-day and access stories and perspectives outside of your bubble.
Led by Gary Chou, all of our programs follow a consistent framework that we’ve developed over the past 8 cycles. However, they’re highly customized based on the real-time needs of the cohort, which allows us to ensure relevance for the group.
We primarily focus on enabling the group to learn from each other. However, we often bring in senior experts from our 250+ Engineering Management, Product Management and Design Alumni—people who have been through it before—to provide expertise and insight beyond that of the cohort.
Overall, you can expect:
You should be currently employed with the level of experience indicated on the application form.
Our programs are designed to complement your current day-to-day experience—they won’t teach you how to do the job you want to do next.
We highly encourage people whose perspectives and backgrounds are underrepresented in tech to apply.
There will be some prep work prior to the start of the program and minimal ongoing work (in the case of our 4-week Studios), as we know people are busy.
The cost is $1,500 for individual contributors, and $1,750 for managers.
Participants must be sponsored by their respective company. We believe professional development should happen on company time and we want our participants to be free from distraction from work obligations while we’re in session.
If your company doesn’t reimburse you for professional development or if you need assistance talking to your manager about the program, please email us and we’d be happy to help you make the case. Upon completion of the program, we can provide a certificate of completion upon request for reimbursement purposes.
The goal of the selection process isn't to judge an individual candidate's worth, but to ensure that the cohort as a whole consists of people who can both contribute to and benefit from the group.
Primarily we look at a candidate’s level of responsibility. However, we also consider the context in which they work, which can include a company’s stage of growth, organizational structure, or business model.
We ask whether we have a group that “fits”, which is a challenge because sometimes you have a sufficient number of applicants, but an insufficiently-sized cluster to move forward with a cohort. If we don’t think we can provide a good outcome for a given individual, we won’t invite them to participate.
Each studio is limited to 2 people per company, and we’ll prioritize applications by submission date—apply early!
Here's what some of our Alumni have publicly shared about their experience:
The Engineering Management sessions I did at @orbitalnyc remain the most valuable education I've ever had for this work. I wholeheartedly recommend NYC-basd EMs, Product Managers, and Product Designers get into it. Read @garychou's thread here for more info https://t.co/LfdB79Nr8E— Lachlan Hardy (@lachlanhardy) October 9, 2018
I participated in the Product Design version of this program several years ago. It was incredibly impactful for my work! Hearing from other designers at as well as above my level helped me feel less alone AND gave me strategies to deal with lots of challenges. A+ would recommend. https://t.co/hAXtmTQThr— Catt Small 🔜 Pixel Up! ⏭️ GDC (@cattsmall) March 2, 2019
Speaking from experience, Orbital's programs are _incredibly_ valuable and I would strongly recommend signing up if you're an eng lead, product designer, or product manager https://t.co/6rOX4sPNsm— John Cline (@clinejj) March 1, 2019
y'all should apply to this, I did this at just the right time and it gave me a lot of confidence in how I was approaching my work! https://t.co/H7eHfmlclJ— Tracie Lee (@ambienttraffic) February 20, 2019
For engineering managers, directors, product managers and design managers in NYC. See below. I highly recommend it. https://t.co/mRB7yChWti— Olivier De Meulder (@odemeulder) February 20, 2019
highly recommend this program for PMs https://t.co/SndkzaNrRA— Parth Sethi (@setparth) February 20, 2019
Hey folks in engineering management. Are you in the NYC area? Want to upgrade your skills? Build a network of professionals from top notch startups? Check out NYC tech's hidden secret: https://t.co/dWgae3vupU (@orbitalnyc). I was in one of the first batches and it's awesome.— Igor Lev (@igorlev) September 28, 2018
Highly recommend this if you’re in one of these roles!— KC Oh (@okaysee) March 6, 2019
It’s incredibly valuable to have a group that helps you:
- know you’re not alone
- realize other folks have similar problems
- troubleshoot your situation
- have a safe place to share what’s going on https://t.co/HVLXyDdSJ6
If you're an NYC based Engineering Manager, Product Designer or Product Manager who'd like to get exposed to peers' and learn from their experience you should apply to @orbitalnyc's Fall Studioshttps://t.co/TQH9ickhcS— ☠️ 𝖇𝖚𝖗𝖎𝖙𝖎𝖈𝖆 ☠️ (@buritica) October 3, 2018