• Praxis
  • Why Tech Apprenticeships are the Future of Higher Ed

So you’re sick of higher education but you don’t know what to do instead? You should get a tech apprenticeship.

What is a tech apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are an old concept. For years, it was common for young children to learn a trade by working for free (or very little pay) as they learned from a master of a trade. Blacksmiths, carpenters, and sailors are several examples of jobs that were built through apprenticeship.
The concept is phenomenal. Become a master of something while creating value for the individual or business who is teaching you.
Today, apprenticeship is viewed as a great avenue for building skill in blue-collar jobs. But the idea can (and should) easily be expanded to the world of technology!
In a tech apprenticeship, a startup agrees to pay an entry-level employee a certain amount in exchange for guidance and the chance to learn by completing projects. Apprentices have the advantage of creating real market value while building priceless skills that they can take anywhere in their careers.

Why should you consider a tech apprenticeship?

“Software is eating the world.” –Breaking Smart

Technology is advancing faster than ever before.

Buckminster Fuller created the “Knowledge Doubling Curve”; he noticed that until 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By the end of World War II knowledge was doubling every 25 years. Today things are not as simple as different types of knowledge have different rates of growth. For example, nanotechnology knowledge is doubling every two years and clinical knowledge every 18 months. But on average human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. According to IBM, the build-out of the “internet of things” will lead to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.

At that rate, anything that takes you 4 years to learn will be virtually obsolete before you graduate.
Let that sink in.
Tech startups are on the front lines of the information advancement. There’s no reason to spend 4 years of your life and thousands of dollars on information when you can experience it while you work and learn!

College is deteriorating.

While many people are realizing that college is not as useful as it once was, others still resort to it as the “safe route” for the general population of young people.
But the cost of college is rising even as information advances. According to Forbes, the price of college is increasing almost 8 times faster than wages. USA Today reports that the cost of tuition to private universities has increased $7000 per year in the last 5 years alone!
The average student owes $37,172 in student loan debt. The total debt among US students now equals $1.5 trillion.
But those numbers don’t compare to the 4 years you’ll be sacrificing. That’s 48 months’ worth of cool projects you could work on. During that time, you could read 208 books of your choice (if you read one each week). That’s 1460 days and 35,040 hours that you’re giving to a money-sucking beast.
Sure, if you absolutely could not get a good job without college, these numbers could maybe, possibly have some merit. But hundreds of people are proving otherwise. (At Praxis alone, over 200 motivated young people have created careers they love through apprenticeships!)

Tech startups are the new higher education.

In a tech startup, 4 years is plenty of time to establish your expertise in any given area. 4 years is enough time to start your own business. 4 years gives you time to establish a strong personal brand. In 4 years, the job market could change drastically. The best way to stay on the leading edge of the job market is to jump in now!
Like Isaac Morehouse said in Why Non-Tech People Should Work in Tech Startups:
There are several factors that make tech startups the most exciting companies on the planet right now.

  • Dramatically reduced cost of starting one, due to cloud computing.
  • Penetration of software into every corner of every industry.
  • Borderlessness. Instant, global reach.
  • Near-infinite scalability.
  • Explosion of venture capital and crowd-funding.

Tech startups are popping up to solve problems in every corner of life, doing things you’ve probably never even thought about. Last time I counted, Praxis alone is a monthly customer of at least 30 different software tools, most created by companies that didn’t exist ten years ago…
While each company and product is unique, the startup ecosystem shares common traits, and work experience in any tech startup is a massive boon to your career, especially early on. The kinds of skills, mindsets, and networks you build are more valuable than anything you can learn in school, or what you gain in an older firm that’s beyond the scrappy, high-growth phase. The world is changing, and the best and the brightest are ‘breaking smart‘ to take advantage. Getting real-world experience at a tech startup is one of the best ways to orient yourself to the opportunities emerging.

What does this mean for you while starting your career?

Here’s what your education at a tech startup is like:

  1. Shadow a cool entrepreneur who has built a company
  2. Have a direct impact on the growth of a company.
  3. Develop soft skills that you can take with you no matter where you go
  4. Work on projects that you can add to your portfolio
  5. Keep up with the newest tech advancements

But what if…

“Do I have to learn to code first?”
Startups aren’t just for coders. Every tech company needs a marketing and sales team, someone to make sure the business runs smoothly, write blog posts, design graphics, and the list goes on and on.
Even if you’re at an entry-level role in a tech company without any coding knowledge, you can impact the company in numerous ways! It’s also the prime place to teach yourself a skill like coding, because there are always REAL projects that you can complete for the company to show your progress!
“But most companies require degrees.”
Tech startups are on the leading edge of realizing that the degree is not a strong signal. Companies like Google and IBM have dropped their degree requirements within the last 5 years.
Learn how to show your skills. All employers want is to know you can create more value than you cost. If you prove that, they’ll hire you. Here’s how to do that.
“What if I’m not cut out for a tech apprenticeship?”
Do you have motivation? Are you excited about learning? Does the thought of a challenge make you set your jaw and get to work? Are you willing to stick to a problem until you solve it? Do you have a base level of communication and people skills?
Then you’re qualified. What companies are looking for are motivated learners that will grow quickly and embrace the company vision. You don’t need any traditional qualifications- just grit, determination, and a lot of hustle.
So what’s stopping you from apprenticing at a tech startup? At Praxis, we’ll help you find and build your skills in a 6-month boot camp, then we’ll place you in an apprenticeship at a tech startup where you can be on the leading edge of education. Apply to Praxis today!