The last thing most 20 somethings want to think about is acquiring more student debt, and for the first time a notable percentage of young professionals are thinking outside of the MBA box. Not surprising when the average cost of a two year MBA program is around $60,000. Though the top programs tend to cost $100K or more.
Those numbers (along with the two year timeline) are becoming less and less viable to young entrepreneurs looking to bootstrap their way into being a startup success story. Turning down or putting off getting an MBA makes good financial sense but what about all of those other skill sets that need to be developed?
Alternative isn’t just a euphemism for weird
It turns out that startup schools and other alternative training programs exist (some are even accredited) that give students and participants stronger backgrounds in areas like coding, financial modeling, and marketing strategy and assessment. Unlike MBA programs, these newer programs and institutes are marketing themselves as streamlined alternatives that appeal to younger entrepreneurs.
This trend makes sense seeing as the startup community has traditionally put more stock in innovation and a strong work ethic rather than focusing on degrees or an alma mater’s ranking. It’s too early to get solid stats on the trend, but based on the hiring practices of major companies and the reworking of MBA curricula these alternatives seem to hold a decent amount of potential for the right candidates.
Great! Sold. So what do I look for?
So it’s probably fair to say that the answer depends on what your goal is. That being said, you should be sure the program or seminar you choose to participate in meets the following criteria:
- The program makes good startup employees not just leaders. (In other words looks for skills not promises.) If you are hell bent on founding your own company look for “Founder Schools.”
- Viable networking opportunities, (ask for specifics before you believe they have trained industry leaders).
- Focus on technical skills sets with hands-on training.
- Look for different “tracks” or concentrations.
- Open enrollment is fine but not needing to go through an application process is fishy.
- Good looking statistics, (employment rate, mean salary 6 months after program completion, etc.)
Probably the biggest strength startup schools and training programs have is their flexibility. They tend to be more affordable, easier to attend while working, and get to the point faster compared to the 2 year MBA programs. Time, budgets, and end-goals vary person to person, but programs like these offer a viable option to people looking to enter the startup arena.