The In-Person Experience

We built TKS as an in-person program because we truly believe the interactive experience matters. The friendships people develop during TKS are extremely important; it’s not just about the knowledge and skills they gain. Over the next few years we’ll learn and implement strategies to help people build friendships and get unique experiences virtually, but as for now, the in-person programs have valuable aspects that the virtual program won’t have.

After the 2019-2020 program ended, we spoke to hundreds of our students about their experiences in-person and post-COVID when all our programs transitioned virtually in March. Even though they enjoyed their experience in TKS and grew exponentially, it was clear that student preferred the in-person experience. This is why we have decided to continue to run in-person programs this year.

We were able to digitize the learning experience, but there were still 2 essential areas we couldn’t replicate – (1) the experiential learning opportunities and (2) the community.

(1) Experiential Learning Opportunities

Over the past 10 years the amount of things we could do on a computer has exponentially increased. But even with these technological advancements, we don’t believe that computers can fully replace physical experiences. We’ve optimized TKS sessions to be highly interactive and engaging so students can maximize their learning experience.

During TKS, students have the ability to:

  • Physically work together during sessions to solve problems using whiteboards and other hands-on tools. This experience is difficult to replicate online.
  • Have engaging in-person discussions, which is possible to do virtually, but more difficult to replicate the same type of energy and engagement.
  • Develop public speaking and presentation skills, which is a core part of the program that will be sacrificed with a move to online.
  • Engage with other students through community events that help people develop new friendships and memorable experiences with each other. In the past we’ve hosted scavenger hunts, games nights, and stand up comedy events.
  • Plan hangouts with each other before and after TKS sessions on the weekends. This is where a lot of friendships form.

Our city directors also work hard to create external experiential learning opportunities for students throughout the year, which would also not be available in the virtual program. These would be dependent on the external environment, but we are committed to enabling these unique experiences:

  • Attend company tours. In the past, we’ve organized special visits to companies like Google, MIT Media Lab, Uber, Nasdaq, Shopify, and Harvard Innovation Lab. This is city dependent.
  • Interact with in-person guest speakers. In the past we’ve hosted successful entrepreneurs like Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat.
  • Attend local conferences and events with each other. During TKS, we create exclusive opportunities for students to build their networking skills and experience real-world events in areas like artificial intelligence, bioengineering, and entrepreneurship.

Collage of TKS students at various in-person events

(2) Community

One of the reasons why TKS is such a transformative experience for our students is because they develop life-long friendships with like-minded people in the program. When we moved online after COVID, we saw that developing high quality relationships virtually was much more difficult than in-person. TKS alumni have met their best friends and co-founders during the program. Some have moved in together and became roommates at university/college. The bonds that students develop in-person are an extremely valuable part of the TKS experience, and we don’t expect that forming those close friendships will be the same experience virtually.

We deeply care about the student experience.

If we felt that the virtual experience was equivalent to the in-person experience, we would have transitioned everyone virtually. It would have also been much easier for us. However, we truly care about the student experience in TKS and strongly believe that the in-person experience has special qualities that are not replicable virtually. We have incredible directors in 7 cities, and if you have the opportunity to attend TKS in-person, we’d highly recommend that experience.

If you would like to speak with someone, please reach out to your city director: