Gone are the days when having a college degree could guarantee a successful career. Today, an increasing number of college grads are leaving school saddled with thousands of dollars in student loan debt, but without the skills needed to land a job to help pay them off. The fact that curriculum at traditional institutions hasn’t been able to keep up with demand for technology jobs — such as in product management, digital marketing and UX design — hasn’t helped one bit.

Beyond a Bachelor’s Degree

To help new graduates, along with people looking to re- or upskill for a job promotion or career change, services like General Assembly (GA) have stepped onto the scene.

“Our job at GA was going to be not to provide curriculum and content per se, because curriculum and content is a dime a dozen … it’s everywhere,” said GA CEO Jake Schwartz. “The real challenge is putting all the pieces together so the individual can invest reliably their time, their passion and energy, and their money to get a real return through a career with better economic prospects.”

GA offers training and educational programs both online and on campuses in New York City and San Francisco, to individuals who want to invest in themselves, as well as companies who want to invest in current or future employees. Schwartz noted that GA works with over 5,000 hiring partners.

“We have everything from a single-night workshop up to a multi-month immersive course so people can enter at different points to get different levels of this learning,”

“We have everything from a single-night workshop up to a multi-month immersive course so people can enter at different points to get different levels of this learning,” said Schwartz, adding that these programs have appealed not only to new grads, but also people in midlife and individuals who want to gain new skills as seniors.

Keeping It Affordable

Being mindful of student debt barriers, in late 2018 GA began offering financing programs that allow individuals to avoid paying anything until they land a job. At that point, they pay a certain percentage of their future salary to cover the costs of their GA training.

“When employment is the number one goal, it makes sense that we should all be growing toward that goal,” Schwartz said.