And, of course, you can join Praxis and we’ll give you the job straight up! We provide a three month professional bootcamp, help you build a personal website and populate it with projects that demonstrate your value, give you a paid apprenticeship at a startup, and at the end you walk away with a job offer.
You have to go to college to get a good job and make money
Actually, college grads have an average of $35,000 in debt and 60% of them have no job or jobs that don’t require degrees. Those silly earnings statistics have the causation backwards.
But you still need to learn skills for the real world!
Actually, employers report that college grads are completely unprepared for what’s needed in the real world. You can learn all the skills you need better, faster, and cheaper through an apprenticeship. College tends to foster all the worst skills; the type that make humans dull rule followers, easily replaceable by machines.
You can’t be so one-dimensional and materialistic. The liberal arts are important to becoming well rounded person.
Precisely why you shouldn’t go to college. Student knowledge of liberal arts is the same when they exit as when they enter school, and none of them like going to class anyway. Anyone who is interested can read books and articles or take classes for free or incredibly cheap and get a far better liberal arts education.
It’s not about the knowledge, it’s about the network!
College networks are incredibly limited and uniform. Anyone can build a rich, diverse network through work, travel, social clubs, or any number of ways that don’t cost six figures or take five years.
It’s not about the specific job, skills, knowledge, or network, it’s about the glories of the unique campus environment, the parties, the football, the four year escape to live and grow up!
Anyone can move to a college town and have all that and more without ever paying tuition or registering for classes.
Employers still need a degree as a signal of hireablility!
Actually, fewer and fewer require it and even those that do care far more about things that actually signal value creation. A degree is one of the weakest signals on the market and the most expensive. There are more ways than ever to get great jobs and stand out without wasted time or wasted dime.
Some jobs have mandated legal requirements for a degree!
Yes. Yes they do. And they shouldn’t. Of course, many of those jobs are “prestige” careers that students don’t actually enjoy but feel like their parents need them to pursue like law or medicine. Even there, opportunity to innovate and work in those industries as an entrepreneur without the costly credential exist and are growing rapidly.
But old people and parents might look down on you if you don’t do it!
Yep. They look down on just about everything young people enjoy, create, and do well. They’ll adjust.
In just two weeks it will mark three years from the day the first Praxis website went live and the first person applied for the program. It seemed a good time to give a longish recap on what we’re all about, what we’ve been building, and what it’s resulted in so far.
This includes bits of blog posts and updates written over the past few years that reflect the deepest, most important and enduring reasons why we do what we do.
We started with nothing but an idea so powerful it demanded action. Action is scary. Action is unknown. Action is prone to failure and accountable to results. Action can be nitpicked and potshotted. Action is also the only way to turn ideas into a powerful force for change.
We didn’t start with a pristine plan or perfect path to execution. We started with a dogged, enthusiastic commitment to create something new and bold and big to change lives and life itself.
We didn’t start Praxis because we think college is bad, or because we want to convince people it is. We didn’t start it to be hip and trendy and “disruptive”. We didn’t start it because we want to point out problems with the world. We started it because we want to create value for individuals.
There are a lot of young people hungry for valuable experiences and not finding them. There are a lot of young people unhappy with the education, career, and life options they see before them, searching for something more. Praxis exists for you.
Praxis is more than a program or a company to me. It’s the embodiment of a mindset and a way of life. It is a tangible way to help people live free, self-directed lives. It’s a community and a set of resources and ideas and businesses and participants built around the understanding that no conveyor belt can lead you to the life you want, and no structure you don’t choose and create yourself will bring you fulfillment.
Praxis is a concrete opportunity, not a vague notion. It offers an interesting, challenging, amazing job and an interesting, challenging, amazing self-guided educational experience, all with a relentless focus on deliverable results. It’s a recognition that your life will be determined by the quality of your product more than the pedigree of your paper. It’s a way to remove the fear and doubt and strictures of the linear ladder to imagined success. It’s a way to reveal and fan into flame the deep human love of adventure, play, possibility, and experimentation.
I don’t believe doing things you don’t like and hoping it leads to unspecified things you do like is a recipe for success. Praxis pushes you to define what you don’t like and what you do, to learn what you’re good at and what you’re not, to identify definite outcomes you wish to achieve and definite causality between those outcomes and your desired next step. Praxis does not ask you to learn things or perform tasks in the hope that it will get you work experience, we give you that work experience from the start. You cannot separate learning from doing.
Praxis is a recognition that, wherever you get your paycheck, you are your own firm. The future does not belong to those who follow orders, but those who solve problems with creativity. The future belongs to entrepreneurs, whether founders or builders within firms. Entrepreneurial thinking and acting cannot be learned from study, but must be practiced. Praxis exists to put those eager to learn it into environments right now – not tomorrow, not after more study and certification – where they can be around and become entrepreneurs.
Praxis exists to offer a valuable service to young people who are searching for a way to build their confidence, skills, experience, network, and knowledge. Praxis is built upon questions like, “Why not now?”, and “Why not me?”
Praxis is about that powerful combination of big picture dreamers and blue-collar doers. It’s all the imagination of Silicon Valley startups with all the work-ethic of Midwestern small businesses. It’s grit plus grind plus greatness. Praxis is the realization that the most radical thing you can do is often the most practical, and that the most practical thing you can do is sometimes be radical.
Praxis is an idea. The idea is simple. Find the best way to get from where you are to where you want to be. If we can help you do that better and faster with a great job that comes with a great education and community, jump in. If not, we’ll still be rooting for you every step of the way.
We didn’t start Praxis to make enemies or to make friends. We started it to create value. We started it because the idea was so powerful we had no choice but to bring it into the world. We started it because theorizing about ways young people could build their lives wasn’t enough. We started it because it’s fun, fulfilling, and harder than anything I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When we created Praxis we did it to fill a large and growing gap in the option set facing young people. So many smart, ambitious, curious individuals are languishing in fluorescently-lit cinder-block classrooms. Bored. Racking up debt. For no clear purpose.
The myth they are steeped in is that they have to do this. There is no choice. The options are presented: Be a loser, or sit around for 4-6 years at a cost of tens of thousands.
But the myth goes deeper.
The myth is that learning itself, and by extension self-improvement, are terrible, boring, passionless and must necessarily be enforced by bureaucrats and self-proclaimed authorities. Your job, if you want to succeed in life (by who’s definition anyway?) is to follow the rules, memorize the disconnected facts, take the tests, pad the resume, apply for the jobs, and wait for the conveyor belt to drop you off at ‘normal’.
How depressing and frustrating this is to so many of the best and brightest.
We set out to cut through the crap. We wanted these talented young people to stop waiting for real life and to jump into amazing work experiences at amazing companies eager for their help. We wanted them to shatter the old paradigm of education and start fresh, like newborns do, exploring questions that matter to them, creating their own challenges and structure, diving into a rigorous self-improvement project.
The mindset is simple and powerful. Awaken your inner entrepreneur. You own your life. You own your education. You own your career. You are the driving force in your own process of creation. Do things for the results you value, not the hoops arbitrarily placed before you.
We wanted this entire life-shifting experience to take place in the span of a single year and for a net cost of zero.
I received this email from current Praxis participant Mitchell Earl. It beautifully illustrates the mindset shift.
“If I had to estimate, I’d say I skipped class 2/3 of the time in college. I don’t sit still well. I couldn’t learn in that type of environment. I need to be stimulated. When I did go to class, I used to take the daily puzzles; either crosswords or sudokus because I needed something to direct my nervous energy toward if I was going to be forced to sit and listen to someone talk at me. I can’t even count the number of times I had a professor yank my newspaper away from me IN COLLEGE.
In my web design class, the syllabus alone put a burr under my saddle reading, “One absence is considered excessive for the course.” I redefined excessive. I turned in my work on time, but I refused to go sit in a classroom and be told how or what to code, design, or write. That’s not how I learn.
I didn’t and don’t want my work to be like grocery store milk, micro-filtered, ultra-pasteurized, standardized, and homogenized. For me to do my best work, I need to have the freedom to explore my creativity. Praxis has shown me that. It’s given me the freedom to explore my own needs as a learner. No one is yanking my puzzle away telling me to pay attention. No one is telling me how to learn. No one is shaming my individuality. With Praxis, I’m free to be me.”
Yes. That’s exactly it Mitchell. We set out to create more freedom. To help you carve out a space, to break the other-imposed mold, and plot your own path to fulfillment as you define it.
Freedom isn’t easy. It’s much harder work than just doing what everyone else wants and expects. It takes a lot of deep, philosophical thinking. It takes self-knowledge and self-honesty. It takes discipline and hard work. It takes tolerance of failure and the courage to put yourself in new situations, often over your head, and learn on the fly. It takes the humility to be in environments where you’re not the smartest person in the room. Your desire for personal growth must be strong enough to sustain these challenges.
Mitchell is tasting it. So are our other participants and grads. This is what we set out to do. And we’re doing it. One life at a time.
If you know anyone who sounds a lot like Mitchell was in school, give ’em a little nudge of encouragement to be free. Remind them the dominant path isn’t the only one, and the best paths are the ones they’ll blaze themselves. You can even send them my way and I’ll gladly talk with them about taking creative control of their education, career, and life, with or without Praxis.
Let’s awaken people’s dreams and increase the number of those who are truly living free.
Here’s the cool thing. Praxis grads are kicking ass. We have story after story of 17, 18, 20, 22, 25 year olds creating amazing results getting awesome jobs and blowing away their classroom bound peers.
What kind of results?
- Praxis grads are all employed.
- Their average salary is $50,287.
- 100% said Praxis helped them achieve a better career and life.
Now entering our third year, we’ve taken an even more dramatic and direct approach to creating value. We guarantee our graduates job offers at the startup where they get paid to apprentice.
We’re growing every month in applications, participants, business partners, graduates, and most of all young people with an unleashed approach to life.
It’s about individuals, not aggregates and average data. Still, if you want numbers, put it side by side with the typical path taken by most young people, pressured by parents and teachers who don’t bear the burden themselves:
- Length: 9 months
- Cost: $12k tuition – $14,400 earnings during the program = ($2,400)
- Debt: $0
- Job after graduation: 100%
- Min. starting salary: $40k ($50k is the average)
- Net benefit over 5 years: $2,400 (in program) + $170,000 (min. pay, no raises for 4.25 years after graduation) = $172,400
- Length: 5+ years on average
- Cost: $100k (minimum)
- Debt: $37k average
- Job after graduation: ??? (82% of grads do not have a job lined up. 62% of degree holders have no job or a job that does not require a degree)
- Opportunity cost: $172,400 (assuming you had done Praxis instead)
- Net benefit over 5 years: -$37k debt -$172,400 opportunity cost = ($209,400)
We’re not done but just getting started. We are relentlessly committed to creating value for our young customers. We have to. We are directly, immediately accountable to them. That’s what the market does. We wouldn’t want to be shielded from it.
You can love us or hate us or ignore us or join us. It doesn’t really matter. What matters and what will always matter to us is helping those who want to act on their dreams and gain a massive head start on building a life they love.
That’s why we took this risk and created Praxis nearly three years ago. That’s why we’ve weathered the storms and criticism and risk and pain. That’s why we get excited about every amazing story and accomplishment by our participants and alumni.
Break the mold.
One of the youngest participants in the Praxis program, Charles Porges, was just hired on full-time at his business partner, even though he’s not even halfway through the apprenticeship.
No one, Charles included, assumed someone straight out of high school could be doing amazing work in project management and analysis at a growing startup. If you’re not loving and excelling at formal schooling, how can you build a career and succeed in the market? Turns out the opposite is more often true. The academic-focused world tends to devalue what the market values and vice-versa.
Charles’ story is inspiring to me. Not because he got a job without the debt and waste, but because he’s happy and fulfilled in a challenging, meaningful work environment. That’s what it’s all about.
I’ll let him tell the story. Here’s what Charles shared with the Praxis group:
“Yesterday was my first day of working full-time at my business partner.
Words cannot express how ecstatic I am to be in the position that I currently am. Every single day of work is extremely valuable for both my business partner and myself. Not to mention, I believe deeply in the product, and my boss is one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. Every one of my interactions with him has been both positive and meaningful.
This time about one year ago, I was in online high school, dreading every second I spent in front of my computer. My days were filled with meaningless assignments, time-wasting projects, and a feeling of hopelessness.
And not too long before that, I was in public high school. I felt like I was in a prison for forty hours a week, and on parole when I had to complete hours upon hours of homework. Most teachers were up to par with your average DMV worker, and almost none of my peers shared my ambition or intellectual curiosity. I was nothing short of depressed, and there were many days where I wished I simply didn’t have to wake up in the morning.
Ever since I joined Praxis, I’ve felt like I have been living a different life. Not only am I free from the cage of state-mandated education, but I know that every action I’m taking is for the purpose of creating a better version of myself. My Praxis advisers have been instrumental to my success in the program so far, and I would like to thank them for all of their guidance. I do not know where I would be without this program.
I only wish that I could talk to my younger self and tell him that there is another way!”
If you want to apprentice with a startup, get coaching and rigorous personal development, and learn by doing, let’s talk about Praxis. Whether you’re coming out of highschool like Charles, in college and wilting, or have a degree but aren’t happy with your career prospects, we can help.
The idea that you should spend four years and six figures in classrooms, shielded from the real world of opportunity, and cross your fingers and hope it gets you some kind of job is absurd.It’s time for a new era in education and career. If you’re good you can prove it in the market without going into debt or dying of boredom.
That’s why we created Praxis, and that’s why we’re making it better every day.
Over at the Praxis blog is a description of current opportunities with business partners in Austin, Atlanta, Charleston, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, and San Francisco where we’re placing participants. If you get in, you not only get paid to apprentice there, you get a job at $40k+ when you graduate.
From the post:
“Participants accepted into the Praxis program get an intense bootcamp where they gain the skills needed to succeed in their careers. After the bootcamp they begin a paid apprenticeship with one of our business partners. These aren’t dull corporate internships. These are dynamic startups and small businesses where participants get a chance to create real value and do real work. Entrepreneurship is the most valuable skill in the emerging economy, and there’s no better classroom than alongside entrepreneurs in the real world to learn it.
While apprenticing, participants get weekly coaching, access to a rich resource library, tailored modules to improve hard and soft skills, a world-class network, and a portfolio to showcase their work.
Upon completion of the program, graduates get hired full time with their business partner at a minimum of $40k/year.
That means in less than a year and at zero cost you begin your career. No debt. No wasted time. No blasting out resumes to jobs you’d hate. No fretting over GPA’s for four years just hoping it results in a job. You join an amazing team doing meaningful work immediately.
Here are some of our current business partner opportunities, and we’re adding all the time…”
Check out the post to see what kind of companies we’re placing participants with.
A great career won’t come from classrooms or generic resume blasts. It will come from you taking charge and going out and building the mix of experience, knowledge, network, skills, and confidence that can only come from working with dynamic people in real companies.
That’s the average starting salary for Praxis grads.
- The average age is 21.
- 80% of grads were offered full-time employment at their business partner upon completion of the program.
- All but one have jobs, and that one chose grad school instead.
- 100% said Praxis was very helpful in their personal and professional success.
We have many more participants graduating this year, and even more starting the program. We will have more stories and data to add every month.
I wrote on the Praxis blog about how silly it is for young people to worry and stress about working in or studying a specific industry:
“Many young people think they know what industry or category of job they want. They’re mostly wrong.
We’re trained by the school and university process to think in terms of big career categories and majors. Marketing. Hospitality. Management. Financial Services. But these categories are so generic and ill-defined that they offer almost no value for an individual trying to forge a path to life and career success.
The truth is, you have no idea what industry or job will make you happy. How could you? You’ve barely seen any of them up close. The roles within these industry labels can be more diverse than you can imagine. Many jobs and entire industries have no label. Many more will emerge that don’t yet exist.
The good news is that this is good news. Opportunity abounds, and what major you pick or what label you spit out when someone asks what you want to do are of little importance. You have massive flexibility and a chance to explore and experiment. You can even create new roles that no one ever thought of.
Stop stressing about it. Don’t fret over getting an internship that perfectly aligns with your imagined industry of choice. As long as you’re not doing something you hate, you’re heading in the right direction. You don’t know what you’ll discover. You can’t learn it from a course catalog or guidance counselor. You’ve got to engage the world and see what you respond to and what responds to you.
Not only that, but it is well documented that ‘outsiders’ are most likely to innovate. If you go directly from a finance major to an investment banking internship and then job, you’ll have experiences and knowledge identical to nearly everyone you work with. If you first spend a few years working at a software startup, building a network of owners of financial service businesses, then transition into investment banking, you’ll have a persepctive and paradigm that makes you truly unique. You’ll have a network that most of your peers lack. You’ll be able to do that thing which is the holy grail of the creative process, and create a new instersection of separate matrices of thought.
Your theories about what industry or job fits you are like all theories. They need to be tested. Go try some stuff. Anything you don’t dislike is fair game. You might discover new roles you never thought of. You might invent and new industry or join it as it emerges. You might gain a distinct advantage and a unique outlook, network, and experience set by working somewhere unlikely first.
Don’t try to pick your industry yet. In fact, don’t ever pick one. Just do interesting stuff.”
I stand by this advice. If you want to get started doing interesting stuff, apply to Praxis!
Here’s an answer I gave to a question on Quora about finding out what you want to do in life.
I find this question to be too stressful and unrealistic for most people to answer. What you really want to do with your life is a lot of things, many of which probably haven’t been invented yet. How can you pick one and plot a path to it?
Instead, do the opposite. Think of things you know you hate doing or things that bore you or make you feel dead inside. Don’t do those. Try new things and add to that list whenever you find something not for you. Make it your goal every day, week, month, and year to reduce the number of things you do that you don’t like doing.
Don’t think about careers, majors, titles, industries, and jobs. Think about activities. Stuff you do every day. What do you not want to do? How can you create a life where you never have to?
What you want is to not be bored in life. So find out what things you can quit, and find a way to quit doing them. Everything else is fair game.
That’s always worked well for me anyway. Certainly better than trying to find out what I want to do.
You’re going to tell me I shouldn’t advocate making mistakes in the first place. Don’t be silly. I’m not advocating mistakes.
The reality of life is that you’ll make mistakes and deliver sub-excellent results sometimes. In fact, the more you push yourself and venture into new territory (good), the more common imperfection will be (not good). Beyond the obvious, “Just try harder to be perfect”, there’s something you can do that will give you the leeway you need to get away with imperfection and recover quickly.
Here’s the thing. You’re not gonna like it. Especially those of you who are perfectionists and understand the tremendous value of high-quality work.
But remember, this is not a way to reduce mistakes and come closer to flawless. This is just a way to earn the respect, trust, and grace that will keep your mistakes from killing your professional relationships. This is a way to earn a second or third chance.
Never be late for anything ever and respond to all emails within 24 hours.
Some of you are mad, some of you are laughing, and some of you are nodding your head and patting yourself on the back as you gaze at your inbox tab that says (0).
Let me defend my claim.
Imagine you’re new at a job. Think of the hardest, scariest, riskiest part of your role. The part you are most likely to screw up a little bit. The part that makes you worry you could lose trust and maybe your job if you don’t learn to master pretty quickly.
There’s a whole lot that goes into what your coworkers or customers feel about you and how much grace they’ll have for you as you learn through trial and error. It’s not just a matter of whether you do that thing well. It’s not about what you do right now as much as what they believe you are capable of doing in time and what kind of person they think you are.
To earn maximum room for error and correction you’ve got to have a pretty decent deposit of ‘social capital‘ in your account. You’ll need to draw down without going into the red.
The easiest way to do this – a way that not a single person is incapable of – is to completely crush it on the simplest parts of your job. Consider that again for a minute.
Earn the freedom to make mistakes in the hardest parts of your job by being perfect in the easiest parts.
What are the easiest parts? Always being on time and responding to all emails within 24 hours. It requires no special knowledge, skill, or experience.
If you’ve been somewhere for a month and everyone has come to rely on your punctuality and lightening fast response time, they’ll feel a glow just thinking of you (Somewhere there’s a crooner inside me, struggling to escape). They’ll never have to dedicate mental space worrying about you, and they’ll have a default belief in your ability to handle things.
When you respond to 10 emails perfectly on time every time and meet your deadlines, people will want you to win. When one of those 10 responses has a mistake, they’ll cut you a break and give you a chance to improve for next time.
Contrast this to the perfectionist who is sometimes late (‘I was putting on the finishing touches!’), even if just a few minutes, and makes people wait around to get a meeting started or causes mental stress because no one is positive when they’ll reply to an important email. When they come back with a mistake the already thin ice gets thinner. Tension mounts, the pressure to be perfect increases. If you’re at all unreliable with the small, easy things, you’d better be damn-near perfect quality with the big, hard things.
Don’t put yourself under that much pressure. Give yourself some wiggle room so you can learn by making and fixing errors.
Never be late. Always respond within 24 hours. You’ll be glad you did next time you make a mistake and someone says, “No problem, let’s improve for next time.”