Technology

App Academy bets the bank on finding every graduate a job

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Education doesn't come with a money-back guarantee, unless you're attending San Francisco's App Academy. The computer programming school is staking its reputation and its bank accounts on finding every graduate a job.

Most of the students at the App Academy have already graduated college.

"I just graduated two years ago from UC Berkeley with a peace and conflict studies degree," student William Bronitsky said.

Bronitsky, like so many of his classmates, realized his degree wasn't getting him a job.

"A lot of these students are embarking on new career paths; it's like a reboot, it's like a reboot button on their lives," head teaching assistant Ryan Sepassi said.

But it's also rebooting graduate education. The app academy is for-profit. Students don't get a Master's degree. They study one subject, for nine weeks. It's designed to prepare them for their first programming job.

"I know exactly what I'm doing this for and so all the effort feels totally worth it and so I am able to put in much longer hours without feeling exhausted," student Simon Chaffetz said.

But of all the things that are different from traditional education, perhaps the most different is the cost. None of the students have paid any tuition and they won't until they find a job.

"If we thought that we could train somebody then we should really put our money where our mouth is," App Academy co-founder Ned Ruggeri said.

Ruggeri says, so far, 93 percent of graduates have gotten jobs. They have to pay the App Academy 15 percent of their first year's base salary. The other 7 percent pay nothing.

"I never feel complacent, because I'm always thinking to myself, 'OK, let's make sure that we can get these people jobs after the course,' because that's when we actually get to make a profit," he said.

And for students already swimming in debt from college, it's an attractive alternative to borrowing even more for grad school.

"It's great; if this model didn't exist, I probably wouldn't have been able to do it," student Jeremy Eaton said.

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apps, computers, technology, jonathan bloom
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