Students – Why You Must Drop Out Now to Get a Job Later

Newsflash – all you’re learning in college is how to apply for, and work for, a job market that’s no longer creating jobs. Chew on this:

Them’s the facts; plain and simple.

So if you’re looking for a job, you better start looking at startups. And the best way to get a job at a startup is not by attending the best school. The best way to get a job at a startup is by bringing the best street cred.

What street cred? Startup street cred.

Bring the credibility that only comes with having worked through the early days of a startup. Prove that you ‘get it.’ Show that you know things; things that only those who’ve worked at a startup know.

That, my friends, is practically a guaranteed ticket to employment. Of course, you have to make sure you can pass a Michigan background check, or whatever the equivalent is the state where you’re applying, because even entrepreneurs have some standards when it comes to hiring. After that, you’ll need confidence more than you’ll need a college degree.

And a new program called Enstitute is handing out those exact golden tickets to fifteen lucky applicants. (Applications for the new class are open now!)

Get Schooled – In the Real World

Enstitiute is a new two-year apprenticeship program that matches hotshot job hopefuls with hot (funded!) startups in NYC. Startups like Warby Parker, Nestio, Clickable and

The startup internship program is open to any 18-24 year old ambitious enough to apply, regardless of whether they’ve stepped foot on a college campus. (BTW – they told me if you’re over 24, and really want in, they want to hear from you too.)

Enstitute provide the basics-food, shelter, transportation. The startups provide the work experience. Experience you won’t get anywhere else. The kind that comes with guaranteed street cred.

Yes, two years sounds like a long time. Even longer when you consider that they’re startup years–which in my experience roughly equates dog years. So, in essence, you’d leave this two-year startup apprenticeship with a decade and a half of actual business experience.

Compare that to leaving college with a framed piece of paper, commencement address well wishes, and no job prospects, and there’s no question where the value lays.

Go get the experience. Learn by doing – as the folks at Enstitute say.

Here’s what else they say about how you can grab one of those 15 coveted spots:

(I cannot apologize enough to Enstitute founder Shaila Ittycharia for my horrible recording skills that block half her face!)

The idea that college is no longer preparing anyone for anything anymore isn’t new. Entrepreneurs, famous bloggers, even the New York Times has been saying it for years. But it took two entrepreneurial twentysomthings to come up with a suitable alternative.

It’s worth noting that the founders of Enstitute, Shaila Ittycheria and Kane Sarhan, both have college degrees. Shaila even has an MBA from Harvard. But they’re both fully aware of what helped them land jobs after graduation.

For Kane it was the internships he had while in college that got him his jobs. Shaila always had her sites set on working in the startup scene. And in a reversal typical of the difference between corporate America and startups, she says that her MBA was a detriment to getting that kind of job. Despite her multiple diplomas, her real cred came after she worked, for free, for startup Birchbox.

The bottom line is this, your Grandmother may think a college degree is critical to your future success, but much like the honey badger, entrepreneurs just don’t care.

And they’re the ones hiring. So why should you?

Learn more about Enstitute and the hot startups they’re working with, and then go apply before the April 30th deadline.

For more tips, check out this free ebook:
5 Tips to Get a Job, Keep a Job and Know When to Run Screaming from Job with a Startup.

What are your thoughts on dropping out now, to ensure a great career later?


  • Corinne Edwards

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    Glad you are back, Kathy –

    This is a remarkable communication flying in the face of most advice.

    Small business is the area where hiring is happening.

    Don’t go away now.

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply February 24, 2012

      Thanks Corinee – good to be back.

      Yeah, it’ll shock some people. I spent a lot of time talking with the founder, and they’ve got their poop in a scoop. Really impressive. And the startups they’ve got on board are amazing. The experience someone would get, working side by side with one of these founders, will shape the rest of their career!

      Thanks for reading Corinne. Nice to see you!

  • elizabeth day

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    $60,000 later and an international MBA – what????

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply February 24, 2012

      As the interviewer told MJFox in that clip, “you had fun, didn’t you?”

  • Evan

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    I think credentialism is a lie. (OK many lies in one place.)

    Great to see that an alternative is on offer.

    This has many implications for real education vs ‘schooling’ and philosophical epistemology (why does abstract knowledge count more than know-how?) but they are topics for others to address. They are a long way from the practicalities of the job market (in some ways).

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply February 24, 2012

      I couldn’t agree more, though I think lots of people will disagree with my position. Entrepreneurs have been saying this for a while. Peter Thiel (Paypal founder) even offers 20 kids $100K each to quit school and start a business. But not every college student wants to run their own company. Some just want a J-O-B. And in many cases, they’re leaving school with loads of debt and little practical knowledge on how to get one.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Evan!

  • Evan

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    P.S. good to have you back, Evan

  • Lee

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    Great information and intereting view point. Not sure if I totally agree though. Small businesses and start ups are booming now but that might not be the case 10 years from now. We may be back to the land of traditional companies who are looking for educated employees and then what? Besides, there are plenty of programs that now offer programs and classes on starting a business and/or entrepreneurship that can be incorporated into a degree that might be just as valuable. Not free and unpaid of course.

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply February 24, 2012

      You’re right, many business programs now include classes on entrepreneurship. Most are geared towards teaching someone how to be an entrepreneur – which in part is what these apprentices will learn – but they’ll also learn how to succeed in a startup. Which will get them their next job. And their next.

      I’m not against college. For those that feel they have to check that college box to be prepared for life, think of this in the same way you think of backpacking through Europe for a year. Only at the end of this adventure you’ve given yourself a total leg up in the job market. And you’ve avoid the icky youth hostels.

      Thanks for reading Lee!
      (oh, and BTW – the stats on startups driving the job market isn’t a new phenomena, has been the case for the last three decades. Just wasn’t getting any press!)

  • Amy

    Reply Reply February 24, 2012

    I agree with Lee. This could be a trend that doesn’t play out in the future.

    This type of advice could make you an evil Pied Piper to the parents of college students. Especially if their kids take your advice and drop out.

    My parents would have freaked out!

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply February 25, 2012

      Well, I’ve been accused of worse I guess. Maybe they’ll march right on to a lifetime of great employment.

      So many of us have degrees that don’t factor into our careers at all. I have journalism degree, but spent 20 years working in startups launching companies and brands. My degree was of zero use in my work in marketing, product development, strategy, sales, etc. I would bet that not one of my past employers has any where I went to school, or what I studied while I was there. What they did know, was what experience I brought to the table.

      Add to that the fact that unemployment for recent graduates is 3-4% higher than the already pitiful national number. I’d put money on the fact that these 15 kids will have a better chance of getting a job than any 15 college grads you could find. I’d bet that would make their parents happy!!


  • Jay Tisdale

    Reply Reply February 25, 2012

    ‘I’m not against college. For those that feel they have to check that college box to be prepared for life, think of this in the same way you think of backpacking through Europe for a year.’

    Best example I’ve heard so far! There are some of us who want to study abroad and be apart of a group taking cute pictures along the way. And then, there are those of us who would rather secretly go by ourselves and roam the country and learn from our five senses. Some of us don’t need the pictures and “check-ins” in life to show what we learned. Honey badger does what he wants!

    Thanks for this article and interview.

    <3 JT

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply February 25, 2012

      Honey badger IS a bad ass, huh? Yeah, I think the ‘backpacking’ comparison really sums it up. And if you must go to school after, go for it!

      Thanks for reading JT,

  • Robert

    Reply Reply March 14, 2012

    I have thought for a while that networking and trade schools were better than going to college. College used to guarantee you a job. It doesn’t anymore. Times are changing these days.

  • akrotiri

    Reply Reply April 8, 2012

    I agree with Lee too.

  • Michael Porter

    Reply Reply April 15, 2012

    Great post and interview! This is my favorite of all articles about E[nstitute].

    I am a current university student in Texas and can attest to the small worth of a college degree. I have countless friends who are working in fields not related to their degrees, simply because they couldn’t get a job they actually wanted after graduation.

    I’m about to start stage 2 of the E[nstitute] interview process and can’t wait to read your future coverage of this awesome opportunity.

    Take care!

    • Kathy Ver Eecke

      Reply Reply April 17, 2012

      Hi Michael – good luck with the application! I’m going to shoot a note over to Shaila and Kane and tell them to look out for you.

      Don’t know if you by ‘university student in Texas’ you mean UT, but if so – yay Longhorns. I’m a UT grad. I’m really not knocking college. I had a fantastic experience there, but I learned just as much (more?) in the first year of my first startup job. Just think it’s a great idea to do both, and if one of those is this very cool Enstitute program, all the better.

      Good luck!!

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