He says one of the first and most important things he learned was that people “are not limited by where they were born . ” However, after a trip to Burundi, he realized that in developing countries many people do not have access to the training that allows them to aspire to many jobs that big technologies cannot do. . This, coupled with the belief that work (especially as a programmer) will be more and more distant, led Ariel Camus to found Microverse. A company that promises its students to pay nothing for their training until they get a job of at least $ 1,000 a month.
Microverse does not reach two years of life, it is not profitable as a company, it has 23 people in its workforce (of which only 4 are programmers) and it has only completed one round of financing, 3 months ago. At that time, he claims to have trained over 400 people from over 100 countries around the world. “ The only thing that matters in our teaching and our business model is that our students find jobs, ” says Ariel Camus. And all the preparation is going to be directed not only to be a good programmer, but also to be remote.
Something for which not only must have “a quality education at the technical level of the United States”, but also have another set of “soft skills”. “You have to work in other time slots, in English and with other cultures. That’s 80% of a remote worker. 20% are technical capacities ”, assures Camus.
Educational proposal of Microverse
This is, basically, the educational proposition of Microverse: that you are very good at programming (because this is what you want to dedicate yourself professionally) and that you can do it by working remotely from anywhere in the world. world, for any company in Silicon Valley. And, in addition, that you do not pay any of the $ 15,000 that this training costs until you have a job related to this study which assumes a minimum income of one thousand dollars per month.
The program is made up of four blocks:
- Fundamentals of Systems Engineering Focused on Data Structures and Algorithms
- Development of soft skills (communication, remote work, ethics, international professionalism, finance, etc.)
- Preparation for job search
Every 5 weeks a new course is started. Before you have to pass difficult access tests with which Microverse also guarantees that the student really wants to devote himself professionally to the world of programming. “We receive 10,000 applications per month and between 40 and 80 are accepted,” explains Camus.
Each student sets their own pace, so some manage to complete the course in 5-6 months, while others spend more than a year. However, the average (and goal) is that all this training does not involve more than 8 or 9 months of dedication. “We are currently creating support mechanisms to reduce this dispersion,” explains Ariel Camus.
There are no teachers, only companions
In Microverse, there are no teachers as such. “When students arrive for their work, they probably have to learn new technologies from the first day they arrive. And they won’t have a teacher to give them a lesson or to resolve their doubts, but colleagues, mentors or older people ”. A scenario they replicate in Microverse.
“We guide students so they know what learning goals and what projects they need to accomplish. We recommend certain materials but we help them develop their ability to find the answers on their own, to discuss them with their colleague, ”explains Camus.
The Microverse team working remotely
Thus, learning is done in pairs: in each project the students must work with another of the students of the course and this partner is always different in each of the tests to be taken. At the end of each module, a final project is produced which is evaluated by three people. “If you have achieved mastery in all aspects, you are successful. Otherwise, you have to start over, ”explains Camus.
The course costs $ 15,000. The student does not pay anything until he gets a job of $ 1,000 per month. From this moment you have to pay 15% of your salary
He assures that it is not an essential requirement to know certain programs to get into Microverse “but rather that you are clear that programming is what you want to do professionally for the next 10 years. Something that, as he admits, is a very difficult decision to make if you don’t know how to program. “But it is from an educational point of view that we could start from scratch. In fact, we have collaborative practices before entering the program to prepare you for success in the program and people who do not have programming knowledge ”.
Collaborative work takes place at Zoom. In addition, Microverse monitors with software that students connect, and on time, to each of the classes. “We see if they have connection problems, if they are working together and we use a notification system so that the incidents are resolved,” he explains.
When you start to charge 15% for me
Camus makes sure that the goal of his company is for students to find work. In fact, nothing is paid until the student finds a job related to what has been learned and for which he pays at least a thousand dollars a month. From that moment, and once he has received this first month’s salary, the student will pay 15% of his salary to pay off the debt of $ 15,000 contracted with Microverse.
Students take between two and three years to complete the payment for this training. What happens if a student loses their job? Or do you take a rest period to, for example, continue to train? According to Camus, the debt is suspended . In other words, as long as the student does not have a recurring and minimum income of one thousand dollars per month, he is not obliged to write off his debt.
There are no teachers, but there are counselors. The student always works in pairs with other students up to 100 different nationalities
But what if the student changes jobs for another in which this programming knowledge is no longer so necessary? We give Ariel Camus an example: a programmer who is promoted to data manager of a company. “If the new position is related or was achieved through the knowledge gained in Microverse, you must continue to pay your debt. If, on the contrary, the new dedication has nothing to do with the technological world, it should not be paid. But if the student ever returns to a technical position, he will resume with the same payment conditions (15% when the monthly salary is exceeded $ 1,000).
How does Microverse ensure that no student forgets their payment obligations? Ariel Camus explains that there are companies around the world that have experience and know the tax environment of each country. Some companies “can verify income even in countries where the tax formality is less than in Spain” and with which they have agreements. However, he believes this is not the best way to go about it. “We would become a tailcoat collector,” he quipped.
Student panel in Microverse
Instead, they have tools that let them know what jobs their students are applying for, if they are good jobs, what interviews they are doing, or what offers they are getting. “ We help students negotiate their terms . When we do, they tend to increase the initial offers by almost 30%, ”he says.
In addition, he maintains that Microverse maintains contact with students. “Every 3 months we have a call to find out how they’re doing and, if things aren’t going well or if they’re considering changing jobs, we’re always there to have the conversation and help them with their new challenges. Something which, he defends, makes that when an offer comes to a student “it is never a surprise and it is very difficult to hide it”.
This group of people also helps students with other types of concerns. “We have professional development coaches who are former programmers at Amazon or Google, people who worked as recruiters in the industry and who help students to prepare for interviews, to make a CV, to prepare their portfolio …” . In addition, Camus ensures that students have access to this type of help for the rest of their lives. “Our intention is to help you get your 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th job. Many of them stop being juniors and find in Microverse a network of contacts, juniors and seniors ”.
“If the students’ ability to get a job depends on our creation of a link with the company, that limits us all”, defends Camus. “We always teach them to fish instead of giving them the fish,” he adds. But given that 8 out of 10 job postings are never advertised, Camus insists that networking is fundamental . “From day one of the program, we teach them to have this network, how to use it to build relationships and get referrals. “
Median student salary: $ 26,000
According to company data, the average salary achieved by its students is $ 26,000 in their first job, “an increase of 2 to 10 times what they had before entering school”, according to the company. Camus. The data can be very surprising, but it’s worth pointing out here that Microoverse’s target audience is not specifically in Western countries.
The founder of Microverse assures that there are three types of students : those who have previously worked as a programmer locally in their country and who are making the leap remotely (a group that generally has an average salary of between 40,000 and 50 000 dollars per year); one who has no training as a programmer but who has professional experience in another field (such as lawyers) and whose salary would be between 20,000 and 30,000; and a third group, which needs more experience and professionalism, whose salary is generally between 12,000 and 18,000 dollars.
Map showing the countries of origin of Microverse students
There are also 20 percent who start working with less than $ 12,000, “but we work a lot with them so that they get a better paying job every year.”
Not all students work remotely, although that seems to be the end goal. “We have students in Nigeria who work locally and earn more than I do,” says Camus. Then he argues that while there are good opportunities in every country, sometimes these do not lead to progress to a second or third better job . “We don’t force anyone to take a job. If someone wants to start a local job that isn’t paid enough because they love it, that’s their decision. We make them wonder if they can maximize their potential there. This is the way for the student not to be the only one to be interviewed in a work process, but to teach them to interview the company as well ”.
Radiography of Microverse students
The profile of the Microverse student is that of a male (80% of the students are), with an average age of 27 (although Camus assures us that they have “many cases” of people 50 or older. 60 years old, but also 18). Fifty percent of people do not have a university degree, and among those who do, 25 have a degree in computer engineering or similar.
Ariel Camus, founder of Microverse, acknowledges that the more western the student’s home country, the harder it is to see the return on investment for his proposal.
Geographically, the student body is very fragmented and spread over 100 countries. Those with the most students are Nigeria, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Kenya, Rwanda and India . Camus argues that a large part of Microverse’s value proposition is cultural exchange and that is precisely why they have quotas so that no country can represent more than 15%. of style. “It helps us to say that all the classes have a lot of cultural diversity, although sometimes it is very difficult to implement because there are people who want to come in and although they are very good you have to postpone their admission ‘but you can only get into the class which it arrives in a month or two later.
From the start of the conversation, Ariel Camus argues that the idea of Microverse is that no talent is left underdeveloped by where it was born. But, given the country of origin of a good part of its students, it is worth considering whether it is not aimed specifically at the elites of these countries, since all students must have a very good level. English to access and very good Internet connections, as well as the material to follow the courses. Something that may not be available to everyone in countries like Nigeria or Rwanda.
Camus recognizes that even though the business model is to pay nothing until you have a job, “it requires exclusive dedication, since you are going to be 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, studying at least with us. . People have to keep paying for food, rent or internet connection and that leaves a lot of people out, especially in developing countries ”.
However, he assures us that they are starting to develop actions to help students pay for the Internet connection so that later “they will give it back as part of the payment to the school once they have found a job”, explains he. “But it’s a long and difficult process,” he emphasizes.
Cost or investment?
It is estimated that in Spain the price of a bootcamp is around 7,500 euros. Almost half of what Microverse ends up costing. We asked Ariel Camus directly why someone should pay the $ 15,000 that their training proposal costs.
The goal is for students to find work as a programmer and preferably do it remotely
“The decision to bet on us must be made by each of them. Depending on your economic situation and where you come from, there are people who see education not as an expense but as an investment. We want this to be seen as an investment, not an expense. If the return should be higher than another option, you should bet on us, ”he argues. “Our proposal is to work remotely. There are countries where the return on investment is much higher. But the closer you get to a student living in a developed country, perhaps the opportunity for local education is similar, ”he admits.
Camus, who studied a telecommunications engineer in our country, recognizes that in Spain there is a very good public education. “But there are very few university programs where you can interact remotely for 8 hours a day with students from 100 countries around the world,” he adds. “It is difficult to analyze the return on investment of an international exhibition, it is what prepares to work in a team and in international cultures . That’s the competitive advantage you would have over the average Spaniard, ”he concludes.
Because, according to his data, 9 out of 10 students of his proposal have already tried to work remotely alone without succeeding. “It’s like learning because you have the books at home. You end up losing motivation. Something that with us doesn’t happen, ”he says.
Lambda, another school similar to the pillory
Microverse’s proposal is very reminiscent of another distance programming school, Lambda School. Both are promoting not only this distance training but also paying nothing before starting work. One of the big differences is that while Lambda is only available for the United States, Microverse students come from any country in the world (including Spain).
Some investors in the two companies are the same and, as Camus recognizes, they are also closely related companies in terms of the market. In recent times, however, Lambda has been haunted by controversy : some students have publicly complained that the training received was not as promised .
Can this affect Microverse? Ariel Camus defends Lambda. “Despite the criticisms, he has a lot more success,” he says. “For every person who took an exam, there are about 30 who have passed well,” he adds. However, he believes that if there is anything that Lambda can be criticized for, it is that “they grew too fast ” and “tried to sell, too optimistically, something that wanted more maturity” . The consequence is that “they had to pay the price and stop promising so much to deliver”.
However, Camus believes that things are not going badly for Lambda and that anyway, all of this “helps us more than it affects us, as it is inevitable that the world needs better ways of delivering education.” to people who otherwise wouldn’t. In addition, it marks distances: “We work together , and investors appreciate it a lot, because we are very successful in doing so.” The fact that Microverse is also open “to each of the 213 countries that exist” is another difference that, Camus notes, separates him from Lambda.