Whether you're degree free or not, this episode is a goldmine of knowledge when it comes to having career success. Today, we're having Praxis's CEO, Cameron Sorsby as our guest.
Praxis is a company that offers a college alternative apprenticeship program. Cameron is one of the very first customers of Praxis, he then became an intern at the company and worked his way up to CEO!
In this episode, we talked about:
• Why you don't need a college degree to have a thriving and successful career
• What are the most in-demand skills that employers are looking for
• How you can emphasize your value to an employer even if you don't have relevant experience
Ryan and Cameron also talked about the system behind Praxis and why it's a great way to launch your career.
Enjoy the episode!
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Ryan: Aloha folks and welcome back to Degree Free where we teach you how to get the work you want. I'm your host, Ryan Maruyama, and today our guest is Cameron Sorsby, the CEO of Praxis. I am super excited for this interview. We have been trying to make this happen for months and if you are listening to this podcast and you like what Degree Free is doing, you're definitely gonna like what Praxis is doing definitely have a look. discoverpraxis.com. Before we get into today's episode, before we get into today's episode, if you guys want to get more degree free, if you guys wanna know different degree free jobs, different degree free companies that are hiring degree free people, tips and tricks to further your career.
Go to degree free.co/newsletter to get our weekly newsletter. It goes out every week and it has actual tips to help you get the work that you want. All right, enjoy the episode
Aloha, everybody and welcome back to the Degree Free podcast. I am super excited to have the CEO of Praxis here, Cameron Sorsby. We've been trying to make this happen for months and I am super excited to have you here. Thanks for coming.
Cameron: Yeah, it's great.
Great to be here. Ryan. Been looking forward to this and excited. We, finally nailed down a time and everything.
Ryan: Yeah, definitely.
When we first connected, it was before I even thought about having guests, really, and I wanted to make sure that I had a few guests underneath my belt before we had this interview.
So you're not my first, so I'm a little bit more warmed up here.
Cameron: There you go.
There you go.
Ryan: First place that I wanted to start with Cameron, is if you could just explain a little bit about what you folks do at Praxis.
So, Praxis, it's essentially a college alternative for ambitious young people who they look at college and these are our participants are typically the types of people that they go to college without question.
They've been told their whole lives like, You need to go to school, you need to get that degree to be successful. And historically, they're the types of people who kind of just treat college like a natural extension of high school where you don't have that big decision point after high school.
Like, what am I going to do? It's just like, hey, which college am I going to go to and you know what's going to be my major and everything? So at Praxis, our goal is like, I think there's, and we can get into this,
I think it's a certain kind of person who really succeeds in the program and gets the most out of it but the gist is our viewpoint is you don't need more formal schooling to launch a successful career. What you need is a combination of, you know, some context into what opportunities are out there in the modern day career landscape. Some, general guidance and support in helping you figure out what kind of, short and long term career paths are a good fit for you, how to build valuable skills.
What are the highest growth and most in demand companies looking for in young talent and you know, how to get started. So the program itself, it's a year long business apprenticeship program. We combine a six month bootcamp and job placement experience with a full time entry level job at a growing business typically tech startups, and we kind of focus on the non-technical side of those companies, so most of our participants are starting in sales, marketing, business operations, customer success. And the goal is, Not to funnel our participants into one specific career track. It's to help them like get their career started, learn through real world experience, and kind of give yourself a foundation to continue building your career off
So we've been around since 2014, so we're coming up on our ninth year of running actual cohorts in February, 2023 here. And it's been really successful so far.
We started very small. We bootstrapped the company from the beginning and have grown it to doing consistently over a hundred participants a year.
Especially with kind of what the landscape of higher education looks like these days, we're really excited about the the growth opportunity of the program in front of us over the next few years here.
Ryan: Awesome. Thank you. And I specifically wanted to have you on, I was super excited to have you on because I kinda wanted to talk about and dig deeper on something you said, and that was you guys specialize in the non-technical side of things and, or at least like trying to help people and teach 'em those skills.
And then how to teach them to convince other people that they know how to do those skills and then give 'em jobs. And what you guys do is awesome with, combined with your bootcamp with six months and then your actual job placement kind of functioning as a marketplace between these two things is great.
And I think you're the perfect person to ask in this position when you're, talking to the employers of these people that are looking for talent, What are some of the most in demand skills that they're looking for?
Cameron: Yeah, so at, at the high level, I think whether companies say this directly or not, they want to hire for attitude and mindset over specific hard skills.
So really like what resonates with the companies that we work with, why they continue to come back to Praxis for new candidates and new hires and new talent and everything is, our participants really stand out because they prove, like they have that kind of combination of work ethic, good character, good personality, a willingness to learn new things, a willingness to learn new things like independently.
They're not looking to come into a company and have their hand held for six to 12 months to, to figure things out. Like our participants want to be, what they crave more than anything is access to opportunities to go in and learn and prove themselves, and if you give them those opportunities, more likely than not, they're going to get off to a stronger start than non-practice candidates, I would say.
And that's what companies really kind of, what really resonates with them is like, companies will come back and ask me like, where do you find these young people? Cuz like they just come in, like they're definitely greener in terms of experience and in, even in terms of like specific skills needed to do the job.
But most companies have actually like that because they kind of get to, train them in, their specific practices are kind of not bringing in like baggage from other jobs and stuff. But it really does come down to having a positive attitude and a mindset that you can come in and it sounds cliche, but like be a positive contributor, like in a team environment and know when it's like, Hey, these are things that I should be getting better at on my own.
And when is it, when are the right opportunities to like seek guidance and support from other people you work with, your supervisor and everything. So I think that's the most important thing. Like if you have strong mindset, strong attitude, right? Character, you're already like in the top 10% of young professionals.
I think especially maybe over the past like decade, it's true. Like companies are kind of accustomed to those like, you know, millennial stereotypes of recent college grads coming in. just not understanding like what does it mean to create value in the workplace and maybe coming in with a slightly entitled mindset in, in different ways and stuff.
And I think, the companies that work with us, it's been a refreshing experience for them to like, get connected with young talent that just has a certain eagerness and I guess the best way I would describe it is the types of people that we accept into the program and then connect to the companies in our network, they're not just treating their job as a paycheck source.
They're treating it as like, this is a learning and growth opportunity that's going to be like a launch point for my career. So like, even if you're in a job that you don't look at, like starting in sales or you don't , look at like starting in a customer success position at a software company is like Your dream job scenario, you still understand like, I can learn a lot from this experience and if I do good work, you know, going to kind of leverage it into future opportunities.
So I think it starts there and then we can go into like, you know, maybe some of the more specific soft skills that I think really stand out. The two biggest for me are like overall like professional communication skills. And I think communication, it is both like a more intangible, soft skill of like, how do, how you decide to interact with your colleagues, your supervisor, the customers that you're working with.
But there's also like communication as a hard skill, like writing and verbal communication in a professional setting are huge. I was the, like I was the kid, both through high school and college and then getting my career started. I had no idea what I really wanted to do professionally.
I didn't have like a specific career path in mind of like, Oh yeah, like I want to be a software developer, or I want to be in sales. There was never like a specific like role type that I got excited about. I was more driven by I want to be around interesting people. I like the idea of like working for companies that are like making an impact , on the world in some kind of way.
But I just knew I didn't want, I knew more about what I didn't want rather than what I did want in terms of like, I wanted to avoid like the stereotypical like corporate career path where I knew I wanted to avoid getting stuck in like a dead end career where I was going to feel like miserable and not able to change my circumstances.
So I was looking for opportunities to like be more. Like dynamic in my career, I guess, and like work with like interesting companies where I felt like I had the ability to explore different skill and role areas over time. But because of that, like I really didn't have a good, like I, at 22 coming outta college myself, like I couldn't list three specific like, hard skills that I had that where I could be valuable to companies.
I, I knew early on, like if I was going to be valuable, it was going to be because like my judgment ability, my communication ability and just like being the young person, being the young professional who was just like consistent and reliable and like low maintenance for a company early on until I had more time to develop specific skills.
Ryan: And that's something interesting. I was having a conversation with a product manager, a guest on this show at Meta and we were talking about his role, but also roles in general. And we were thinking, we were trying to estimate like what is the percentage of like soft skills versus hard domain specific skills.
And this was just too dummies or I'll talk, call myself a kind of chopping it up back and forth, but we were just like, it seems like for most jobs, and I've held every job underneath under the sun, soft skills come into play probably like 80% of the time and then 20% is the domain specific skills of like, okay, you need to know how to do this, that, and the other.
I wanted to kind of ask you about the attitude and mindset that you kind of first talked about. How do you show that you have the willingness to learn to somebody. Like, how does that come, How can I convince you, the employer that I am willing to learn and that I do have that attitude and mindset.
Cameron: So this is something we, it's kind of like baked into our bootcamp experience, is we don't set up our boot camp curriculum just to be kind of like a series of skill modules that if you complete steps A, B, and C, then you'll be able to get a badge with this specific skill. There's certainly structure to it where it's like, if you're interested in marketing, there are certain projects and certain portions of our curriculum that you can focus on to develop marketing skills, but we're going to do it in a much more like project based way that helps you.
Like create and execute projects in more like scenarios where it's like, Hey, if you're interested in content marketing, like here are projects you can do as if you were on the job at these kinds of companies and stuff. So going back to your question though, I think the big thing is like, I think for an individual on your own, and it's like, All right, I am pre-career.
I haven't gotten my, like, long-term career started and you know, Cameron's on this podcast telling me like the, one of the most valuable things that you can signal to future employers is like having a, a certain like mindset and attitude to bring into that company. It, it comes down to like side projects.
Like how are you taking initiative in on your own to like learn and grow in the areas that you're specifically interested in. So one of the things that we look for in our own application process is like a young person's track record of doing something that they weren't obligated to do.
So essentially, have you done, have you gone above and beyond the call of duty outside of like a classroom environment? This usually shows up in two ways. Like, one is, you can tell anecdotes about like, those typically like hourly wage kinds of jobs that you have, uh, before you get like your long term career started.
Like when I, when I meet an applicant and they were, you know, waiting tables at a restaurant and they're telling me stories of Hey, like I learned. Like kind of some, I had tricks up my sleeve of like how to build good relationships with customers because I knew that was going to give them a better experience.
And I felt responsible for their experience with my, the business that I was employed by. And it also had a direct impact on like my ability to receive more tips for the night and stuff like that. That's just showing me like someone's ability to think beyond just like, what is the minimum, expected of me in this job.
And I want to do more than that because you're probably just have, like, you're innately the kind of person who isn't going to be comfortable just doing the bare minimum no matter what environment you're in and if I'm a hiring manager for, you know, a sales or customer success team at a software company, especially like a smaller, you know, smaller company that's more in like a startup phase, I want people who are gonna come in and improve on the processes that are already in place. And that's a really clear indicator that someone has like the soft skills and the personal judgment to be like, Okay, I'm not just repeating the same task over and over again in some of these like early job experiences I have, it's, I'm actually like able to think outside the box, figure out, make the connections between what is your actual job.
It's not just like carrying food from the kitchen to their table. It's making sure they have a pleasant, good experience in your restaurant and thinking outside the box of like how I can improve the way we do that and stuff. Then I would say the other category, so like that first category is just having a track record of going above and beyond the call of duty.
Like in. you're kind of like more short term jobs that you have before you get your career started. Like I think so many people underestimate how valuable those like early job experiences are. Like most people, like when I interview applicants and stuff, like most people, they like, Yeah, I worked at McDonald's.
Yeah I worked in fast food and I know like I didn't gain any relevant skills from that. I'm like, you bet your ass you did. You gained really, if you approached it the right way, you probably gained like really high level customer service skills. And even if your goal isn't to be in like a customer service position, you still had to like, kind of like harness your ability to like relate to people, manage relationships, deescalate situations, problem solve on the fly when it's like, hey, we're out of certain ingredients.
So these venue items aren't available. Well, that's gonna change. Like, how you're going to, let customers know about that. Like there's a positive way to, have that interaction and there's a negative way where it's like you can really disappoint them and stuff. So there's so much that goes into that.
But anyway, that's like the first category, like above and beyond the call of duty on the job and those kinds of jobs. Then the second one is just like, how do you pursue like personal learning and growth on your own? So like we have applicants who maybe started like a small business online.
We've had applicants that, started like a lawn mowing business in their neighborhood and kind of took it beyond that first level of like, hey, I asked a few neighbors if I could cut their lawn. And I did it a few times, but it's like, no, I turned this into like a legit summer job for myself.
And now I have, 10 plus lawns that I'm responsible for, and I recruited two of my buddies, to come work for me. Like that's a really cool, cool story to have in your back pocket. Or even someone who's just like, I'm a more like proactive learner. I'm an intellectually curious person. Like I read, I listen to these podcasts, I can talk about them, in an interesting way.
And I think all that kind of like entrepreneurial side project stuff, that's something like we all have in our control to do. And from the hiring side, like I, especially when I'm thinking about like my talent development strategy for like entry level positions, I want like more ambitious, hungry, young people.
I care way less about like what specific experience, what specific skills they have. There's like certain character traits that those kinds of things can signal and stuff. So my recommendation for people would be like, take action on your personal interests in some way and if maybe like there's ways where maybe that's not the most helpful information for somebody who's like on the job hunt, trying to get a job as quickly as they can right now, but as a long term early career strategy, I think that's, that's the best approach to make sure like you're opening up longer term opportunities for yourself, but just like start being the kind of person who's like actually, like, don't worry about if you're interesting. Like focus on being interested in the things around you and that's how you're going to one, like just show other people naturally.
Hey, like if you put, if you hire me, I'm not going to be the person who just literally does the Xs and Os of what I'm told to do. I'm going to like treat things that's like, Hey, how can we make this part of the process of reaching out to customers like better than it currently is.
Like I have a certain level of like problem solving ability and stuff. So I think if you can take that in a way where it's like, oh, this isn't directly related to like helping me get better jobs or advancing in my career, but. It's all those like underlying soft skills that really make an impact on like your long term career advancement.
Ryan: For people, for longtime listeners, basically.
Exactly. What, I love everything that you said, and one of the reasons why I was super excited to have you on is because, we've met in person, so we got to talk a couple of times is actually prior to this. So I know that you and I are cut from the same cloth. Like, really, we believe the same things and that's something that we see all the time with the early jobs. What you were saying is people have that doubt of their ability, right? And they just say exactly what you said. Well, I was just a server at a restaurant. Well, I just stocked shelves at Walmart. I don't really, I don't really know what experience or what I can bring to the table, but there can be two people that have the same job, but look at it completely different.
And if you are able to, the name of the game in searching for a job, I mean this is really just in anybody's career is bringing value to the company and in searching for a job that's just trying to communicate that you can bring value in some way.
Cameron: There are a lot of like job hunting tactics that this applies to as well.
Like when it comes to actual job hunting and like, how do I signal like I have the mindset, the attitude, the characteristics that like would actually make a company excited to consider me. This is the way I think about it, and this is how we kind of run our own placement process, but the more you can personalize your like job application, your pitch to companies you wanna work for, the better off you're going to be.
Because 99% of candidates out there that may be competing for the job that you're going after, they're all doing the same thing of just like I have my one page resume filling out job applications online and I'm, fingers crossed I'm waiting to hear back and hopefully somebody wants to talk to me.
It's like you're not going to, you're probably gonna have to apply to like 200 plus jobs in order to just get like a handful of interviews taking that general strategy. So, definitely at Praxis we practice and preach like a quality over quantity approach to job hunting. But why I bring that up is you can show in how you actually, like, pitch yourself to a job, apply to a job that you have those kinds of characteristics that a company wants to have, like in terms of soft skills in their new hires and stuff.
So one is like, just do your homework on the company. Like get to know them, what they do, what their products and services are, who their target customers are, what makes them different from, their competitors. Et cetera. Then depending on the kind of job that you're applying to, whether it's a marketing job, a sales job, or whatever it is, find something, do your homework and do your research on that company, and then find a way where it applies to like, Hey, this is how we could be doing like our sales outreach better.
Hey, I researched, I got into, I signed up for our emails so I could get all like the typical like email campaigns at a prospect for customer prospect is going to get and here I made some tweaks and improvements to what our email cam, what the email sequence is.
I thought this could be an interesting way to improve the, you know, conversion rate on the landing page or whatever it is. It doesn't, the important thing is like, it doesn't have to necessarily be the right answers, but what you're trying to do is signal that, I can think at a higher level than just like being told what to do and I can try to problem solve and I'm thinking about things the right way.
We had a really awesome participant a few months ago, and he actually went outside of our like formal hiring network to, to get his job that he was placed in through the program and stuff, and it was a software startup that he was interested in working for, and he was interested in joining their sales team.
And he literally like signed up for their email list as if he was a prospective customer, and he revamped, he rewrote all of their, like the five email sales sequence that he got as a prospect and then he put it into like a notion page, a word doc, and broke down. Like why he made the changes to each email that he did.
And he actually like DMed it to the sales manager on Twitter and got a conversation going that led to an interview and eventually led to a job and stuff. It's not a a hundred percent guarantee that's going to work every time, but it's way, ultimately it's way less work to do that for five to 10 companies over a couple months versus, just like, just throwing out application over application, hundreds of applications every week.
You can make a big impact because you're one of one doing that versus one of, 500 that's applying to a job online.
Ryan: Yep. That's amazing. And that's what we tell people too is to basically do free work, right? I mean, and get noticed and exactly what you said, the problem is probably for the better, all in all.
But today it's never been easier to apply to jobs. Right? It's just never been easier. I mean, we can sit here and on this conversation with you. I can be applying to jobs in the background and doing something like that where you can stand out. I mean, as you said, it's not guaranteed. I mean, there's a probably, there's a good chance that maybe you wasted your time, but you're also getting the experience at the same time, right?
You're getting the experience of actually doing it. You're getting the reps of actually doing it.
Cameron: The participant that I brought up as an example, like the cool thing is like he's never been in sales. He didn't already have the knowledge of like, Oh, how I can make these emails better.
It was a learning opportunity just as much as was an opportunity to like potentially get a job because he had to do the research. And like individual, like study component of like what are the best examples of sales outreach campaigns and like, how can I replicate it for this specific company and stuff? Treating your job as a learning experience, treating the job hunt as a learning experience and just again, like it kind of comes back to that, like being someone who's, who's choosing to be naturally curious about like, the world around them. Like, I, it sounds a little fluffy to say that, but it starts with that kind of like core characteristic.
Like, and that's an individual choice. Like, you talk about like, bringing up free work. I remember in the, especially in the early days of Praxis, we used to create like a lot of like marketing content and like, Hey, here's the value of going out of your way to do work, for a company before you're hired to do it.
Because especially as a young professional, like you don't have proven, you don't have a proven clear track record of being valuable. So you have to do the little things that can stand out. And we would get, people from all walks of life being like, Oh, it's terrible. You're telling young people, to do free work that's exploitation, et cetera.
And it's again, like it comes back to that individual choice. Like we have control over our choices, and you can choose to be someone who just like, you know, feels like the world is like, just like this heavy force upon your shoulders and it's like bringing you down or you can choose to look at things, it's like, all right, my lack of, specific, formal experience, my lack of formal education, it's actually an opportunity for me to stand out against like my peers that are competing for this job and I'm gonna go do the little things that you know actually, you know, have a positive impact rather than just doing what everybody else does.
Ryan: One of the things that you were talking about earlier, you were kind of talking about the skills and then the second one that you were talking about was like entrepreneurship and getting those reps of starting a business, like that person that did the lawn care business. One of the things that I've been thinking about, and I've been talking about this with Hannah, was that like, I used to think that entrepreneur isn't for everyone.
Like entrepreneurship isn't for everyone. I used to kind of think like, well you need workers in the world, and I've kind of been thinking that I'm reevaluating that statement because I think maybe the view on entrepreneurship is different because I think what you hit on is super useful for people that don't know what they wanna do, or they're just starting their careers kind of stepping out into entrepreneurship in, in some, you know, low risk way.
You don't have to start like a Neurolink startup or anything like that. You know, like you don't have to go raise a bunch of money, you can just go like wash people's cars. And um, that project will teach you a lot about business in general. And then from there you can kind of see, well, you know, I kind of really liked the sales process or I didn't really like that.
I kind of liked to figure out the strategy of how we're gonna get different people for like different clients for us. And it's build, it's all of that learning and all of that, as you said, intellectual curiosity that could help build your portfolio. And so I, I'm not sure there's a question there, but is there something that I was really.
Thinking about lately about like, I'm not sure if entrepreneurship is like, is not for everybody. I don't know. I
Cameron: have like two thoughts on this. One is I think there's different ways to like actually get personal value out of like the term entrepreneurship. Like, it, it doesn't ha it doesn't only mean this black and white definition of like, I'm going to start my own company and be a, you know, a full-time business owner and that is what I do as a career for myself.
Like, you can be entrepreneurial in a lot of different ways. Like, I think you can be an entrepreneurial learner by like, you know, hey, like let's say you, you think you're interested in marketing, Like go listen to. You know, the, the 10 like best marketing podcasts and download, like sign up, you know, for all like the really high quality like email, like marketing, email newsletters, and then, you know, like start a website and start a blog about like what you're learning from, from that content and stuff.
And it's like you could pretty quickly, like if you wanted to, you could turn that into like a little like ebook about like, you know, marketing 1 0 1 from like a beginner's perspective. And that could just be a cool way to like actually take in that information better than you would if you're just like passively, you know, consuming that content and stuff.
That could also be a cool way to show like, hey, I don't have formal like marketing experience, but I'm interested in breaking into a marketing job. Like I'm going to, you know, create an ebook, publish it, make it look really good, and then like, you know, try to get a hundred people to sign up for this ebook.
And it's like, Bam. Now you've shown your ability to like market something really simple in a, in a pretty like meta way and stuff like, but again, like, I think that's just like a, a small easy example of like, you're not going to just sign up for a marketing course, you know, on online or at a college. And that's the only way you can learn marketing.
You can, you can take a more entrepreneurial approach and, you know, I think the same applies to like, you know, side gigs and, and like, alright, like, hey, if I'm a teenager and I want to make money, enough money this summer, so I have some spending money for, for the next school year, like, , You know, maybe, maybe I already worked like in Food and Bev last summer, and I want to get some kind of different experience, like what can I do on my own to, to bring in some money for myself?
Like you don't, I don't think you have to be like self-identify as like, I'm an entrepreneurial type of person to give yourself permission just to do like side projects like that and everything. Like when I was growing up, I remember thinking like, I'm definitely not an entrepreneurial type of person.
Like I could, it was really intimidating and scary to me to like be involved anywhere in the process of like starting a, a brand new company and business and stuff. I, it just, I think partially like I was just never growing up. Like my dad worked in corporate finance and like the people that I was exposed to were either like, you know, had more like traditional like careers or, you know, they like the teachers and like, you know, sports coaches.
I was surrounded with like, I wasn't exposed to like somebody who like ran their own business or anything. It just didn't seem accessible. It didn't seem like the right, right fit for me. Now, like 10 years into my own career, like I, I still have, I've never started my own company, but when I, when I think about my own future, like it totally seems like a possibility.
I could start something from scratch. I'm not like dead set on it, but I'm no longer like, intimidated by that. And it's because like, I've just gained confidence through the experience of the first 10 years of my career. And I've, I've seen what other people do and I realize like a lot of examples of like entrepreneurship and like small business ownership and everything, it just, it's way more accessible than like the younger version of myself thought.
So I think, you know, the, the bigger point I would bring up is people tend to put themselves in boxes very early on. That, you know, kind of limit themselves to like what opportunities they think could be a good fit for them. You also, like if you would ask me when I was 18 or 20, like, hey, like, do you think you could see yourself doing sales?
I'd be like, heck no. Like, that sounds scary too. Like I don't want to be like the cheesy, like sales per like, you know, used car salesman and you know, I don't have a like natural, like super extroverted personality and like, I'm usually not the kind of person who's like controlling like the crowd in the room and like always like craving attention and just like naturally charismatic and stuff, but like through different, you know, experiences.
Early on in my career I was just kind of put in situations where I had to like be in a sales position and I just kind of like learned how to do it on the fly. It was usually super uncomfortable. And now it's something I, I usually really enjoy. And it's something even like, I wouldn't be interested in being in like a full-time sales position necessarily, but I've definitely appreciated the experience I gained.
And it, it's made me realize like, hey, like worst case scenario, like if I'm in a position where it's like I have to go earn money and I'm desperate for a job, like sales is something that I can go do if, if needed. And then more on a more positive note, like it's really fun and interesting to go get experience in an area and then realize like how there's like a bunch of different dots that connects to, So like, you know, sales is like the stereotype of like, no matter what you do, you're in sales because you're, you know, building, you know, relationships with people, you're selling ideas or whatever it is.
But it's, it's true. And just like gaining that kind of experience, it makes you appreciate it. But I think that also kind of comes back to like, Taking, like approaching your career in a more entrepreneurial way versus like compare, compare a more entrepreneurial approach to your career in a more like school approach of your career.
The school approach is you have to identify like what is the one thing that you should do for like your entire career? Just like, you know, what's the one major that you should get your formal degree in? I think that's, that's a school approach. Whereas like the more entrepreneurial approach is like, you know, being more of like an experimental mode, like try out sales for 12 months and see how you like it.
Even if you figure out like you don't want to be in sales for the next five to 10 years, you probably learned a lot of valuable skills and you gain the self knowledge of. This is what I want to avoid going forward. And you know, here are bits and pieces that I actually enjoyed. Maybe like marketing or product management is something like that might be a better fit for me because I learned from that experience and just, just experiment and have fun with it.
Ryan: One of the things you were talking about was this sales and you know, definitely like, and this is what something that I tell everybody is like, for me, learning sales changed my life, right? Like it completely changed my life because it pretty much exactly what you said, I realized that if things ever.
Headed south. And honestly, things have headed sales multiple times in my career where I had to fall back on my skill to sell and I had to go be a salesman for, for a company. But I knew as soon as I learned it that I would never go hungry. Like I was like, Okay, this is, this is the skill that I need to know.
And I'm just like, you, like I, I actually really don't like sales. Like, am I okay at it? Maybe depending on what I'm selling, you know? Okay, maybe, but I really don't like it. And, but I think it's important for everybody to know sales, and it's exactly what you said. It's the selling of ideas and the selling of concepts.
And I think that that is the soft skill that everybody should learn because that's when we're talking about the job search process, that's exactly what we're doing, right? We're trying to sell our skills to companies and selling, you know, whatever, widgets or whatever, and selling my skills to a company, it all.
It's all the same. As long as you are able to dig, you know, exactly what you said is just dig layers deeper on and think on these subjects. Okay. Like what are they really after? And that's where doing all of these projects can really come in handy in people's careers because then they can be privy and understand like, okay, well marketing, I'm not gonna talk to them about maybe customer service and those metrics.
I'm gonna talk to them about marketing metrics and I'm gonna talk, talk to them about what they care about. And so, yeah, I totally agree with you. I kind of wanted to switch gears and talk about a lot of people that listen to this podcast, they kind of don't know what they wanna do. Like, you know, like, and from our conversations before, I know that you were like this and I was definitely like this.
And I was wondering two things. One, how do you figure out what you wanna do? Like what do you tell people? And then I guess like how does practice handle it would be the follow up.
Cameron: My biggest thing, especially when talking to people very early on in, in their career is I tell them first and foremost, take the pressure off of yourself, that you feel like you need to figure out what you wanna do long term.
Like right away. You, I think the best careers, they evolve and develop over time, whereas like 10 years in, you're like, I could have never predicted I'm doing what I'm doing now, but if I look back at like my career timeline, I can see how that opportunity led to that opportunity and like, this combination of experiences I've had has resulted in me now doing the thing that I really want to be doing and stuff.
So what we talk a lot about at Praxis is like, your career is a long term discovery process. And what my personal view is like, . I like, I, I'm fully prepared for there to be different points in my career where five years from now, 10 years from now, I once again feel like I don't know what I want to do, you know?
But I think in general, like at the beginning of your career, you shouldn't be focused on I think this is one specific thing I know I really want to do, and now my goal is to go do that, forever or I want to go do marketing and I'm not open to do anything else but marketing.
Cuz I think that's the thing that I want to do right now. Whereas, like I would make my goal if I was starting my career, is I would take a step back, look at it, come from a more long-term perspective and my primary goal would be at five to 10 years into my career, I want to be doing what I want to be doing.
And then be very open minded about what that could end up being, and then being very open minded about where can I, what are the different kinds of opportunities that I could take on now that would help me make just a little bit of progress at one, at a time to ultimately get to be, five years into my career, 10 years into my career.
And I can definitively say like, I'm doing something I really enjoy and that I feel like I'm meant to be doing. So I think that's a very different approach from, again, like it's a school approach of like, when you're 18, you step onto campus and like the first thing that everybody's worried about is like picking my major because that is going to determine what jobs I can get out of college, and then that determines what I do for the next 30 years of my career. The world, I think the most interesting careers and in general, like the world does not demand that we kind of approach our careers that way. So first and foremost, like take pressure off of yourself. That is not an answer. That's not a question that you have to answer today.
It's a question that I think is best answered on a, in a much longer timeline. That's the biggest thing, and I think just that, that mindset shift is, it kind of allows everything else to fall into place. It allows you to not feel as much pressure to be like, I have to get, like what I consider my dream job right away.
It puts you in the mindset of like, Hey, what are the range of opportunities that I could go land that help me, you know, be in a better position? Then I am right now, six months from now, a year from now. And then, you know, after that, you know, six month period, like, let's say like, all right, like Ryan and Cameron are talking about sales, how valuable it is.
I think I'm similar to them like, I don't see myself as like a natural salesperson, but they've convinced me enough that it's something it's valuable experience to get, I'm gonna go try to get a sales job and then, try it out for six to 12 months and I know a lot of people who didn't think they would like sales and end up loving sales.
And I've also known a lot of successful people who tried sales, knew they wanted to pivot from it but it helped them, it was a stepping stone to what they really wanted to do.
I think that is really wise, first of all. I mean, I look at my own career is what we'll call it and yeah, I think that's exactly right.
If I had all the pressure of, and which I did when I was 18, little about me, like when I was 18, I went to college just like everybody else and I was on a very specific track due to my family pressure. I'm Japanese and they're very much on, go to school, get a job, and that's the way that it is and particularly the job would be a white collar job. And that's just the way that it is. As soon as I was able to break from that mindset, Of exactly what you've been talking about this whole time, which is, picking my career and then not knowing anything about that career and then trying to make my myself fit it.
As soon as I got out of that and I kind of just, I wouldn't say like, let you know, let my career go, like where the wind blew. But if you look at my resume, that's kind of what I did .
And I kind of just took different opportunities. I've been a professional firefighter and I've been an accountant, and I've been everything in handyman and everything in between.
And it's landed me at this place that I never would've dreamed of before. Right. If somebody said like, What are you gonna do for a living? You're just gonna talking to a mic and talk to interesting people all day. Like, Alright, I, one, I hate talking to people. like, I mean, I hate it, but I think you get what I mean.
I'm an introvert and you know, and so I'd be like, no, you're crazy. You're crazy but here I am doing it and I think for people to take that pressure off of themselves, to take that chip off their shoulder is huge and extremely wise.
When it comes to our careers, like the less experience we have, the more we're in the position of just like, we just don't know what we don't know.
Like especially for most of us who kinda grew up in like going to school, your life is in a more like academic classroom environment where you're just kind of sheltered from the real world. Especially in terms of like your career 'cause we're not in the professional environment when we're growing up and stuff.
So you have to give yourself time to like, get a variety of experiences and learn different insights and lessons and learn like, gain self awareness and knowledge of like, Who am I? What do I actually enjoy? What am I good at? What kind of people do I enjoy, like surrounding myself with?
And you just need more time to kind of figure things out. So I think it's a short sighted strategy to be like, Okay, I'm 18, or I'm 22 and I have to determine how I'm gonna spend the next 20, 30 years of my life. Whereas even if you just take like three to five years and maybe you're, you're the less patient type, and you're like, All right, like, I really want to figure out what I want do, and, but I'm gonna give myself a least a few years to, you know, try to answer that question.
You're gonna be in a much better position than trying to answer that question blindly, before you've gained any experience and stuff. So, yeah, and again, like I think that's a really most valuable aspects of what we're doing at Praxis is beyond, what you actually learn in the program and beyond the actual job opportunities you get in the program.
We're helping like these young people that are doing the program, especially our younger participants that are 17 to 21 and they like are recent high school grads that are doing Praxis instead of college. If you're comparing them to their peers that go to college for four to five years before they, start getting like real world experience.
Like they have a four to five year head start of not just like professional experience but life experience and there's so much, if you're 19 and you've gotten to the point where it's like, okay, I can hold a career oriented job and like maybe it's like, Hey, I've learned I can do sales and like you said, I know I'll never go hungry because I have at least enough professional skills where I'm hireable and I can go work for a living and, afford to provide for myself.
Just answering that question like that was the most stressful, question for me from like 16 to 22 of just like, it's hard for me to really vision what I'm doing with my life and it's even hard for me to envision myself, like living on my own, paying rent, getting married at some point.
It just, those things just seemed really far away when I was 16 and didn't have that experience but like, the earlier you get to that point where it's alright, I have some like financial independence, I have some basic professional skills. You probably don't realize what like your dream career is yet.
but you have some like really fundamental, you've checked some fundamental boxes that most of your peers that are taking the college path, even though they probably have a like false sense of security and confidence, like, Oh, I'm going to college. I'm gonna get my degree that's gonna set me up for life.
Most people, unfortunately, are in for a rude awakening when they graduate and it's like they're starting that same process of like, how do I get my first job? How do I figure out what I want to do? And our participants at 17, 18, 19, they've started checking those fundamental boxes right away.
So what they're doing long term, like five years out of the program, it's amazing to see because we have people that are went through Praxis at 18 did, you don't even have to be like, The top 10% of performers like you got good work experience, you're doing well, you're living on your own.
You probably moved to a new city. You've developed friendships in the real world and through the program and stuff and at 22, 23, you are now five years ahead of the people that you graduated college. Or graduated high school with.
Ryan: Yeah, and it's something that I've thought about a lot, right?
I mean around a podcast called Degree Free. So I mean, like I think about this all the time and I always used to say, or we still say that, Not going to college is harder because you have to trail blaze and you have to make your own path, right? You have to make it your own way in the world you don't have somebody telling you, okay, you have to fill 120 credit hours and then do this class at this class and whatever.
But I've been thinking about about it recently too. Is this something else that I'm kind of maybe changing my mind on? And I'm starting to think that going to college is harder and because of exactly what you said, because if these young people, 17, 16, 17, 18 years old, they get their minds around what we talk about here.
And then they go and attend Praxis and they'd go and do your program. You, like you said, they have all of this work experience. It takes the average college student five and a half years to graduate even though they advertise for, it takes five and a half years. And exactly what you said, if they're. In your program or if they're just doing projects on the side and getting jobs and just doing work. They have five and a half years of experience and now that person other, the other person is 23 and they're just entering the workforce and now they have to do all the same things that you did for five years.
Yeah. And so it's something that I've been thinking about. I think it's, I think it's might be harder to go to college.
Cameron: Once you get over that initial hump of like, Hey, I am courageous enough, I am brave enough to bet on myself and I'm going to get my life started without college. Once you get it, that's a part that's really hard because all of society is telling you like, go to school, go to school, and like it's really hard to be the young person who like, when you're around family and family, friends, after high school everyone's like, ask, where are you gonna go to college?
What's your major? Except it sucks to be the person who doesn't have the easy answer to those questions but I'm telling you like, it's actually this, especially like, I feel like we're in this window where we're in this period of time where it's safe enough to not go to college, where more and more people can do it and be really successful, but it's still early enough where it's seen as like, oh wow.
If you frame the story the right way, it's really impressive. Like, oh, you're not just like another 18 year old who's deciding to take a four to five year vacation in college. You're working for a legit company. Like we have like 19 year olds who have bought and stuff.
It's really cool, you know, like there's a lot you can accomplish and we have, what's really cool to see is like the variety of life experiences that our participants and alumni like choose to have. We have some people who were like, just personally kind of like more conservative in what they wanted outta life.
Like they're 19, 20 and it's like they're engaged now and like they're gonna get married and like they, they bought a house and they're set up like they're living as if they're 30 years old, and like, it's still kind of crazy for me to see that happening at that age and everything.
And then we have other people that, like, they went through the program, got an awesome job, learned skills that allowed them to like, go work for themselves or freelance. And now like they're traveling around the world and like, hanging out with their friends and like, they probably won't grow up in the traditional sense of like, , settling down and getting married and stuff for quite some time.
But like the important thing is like they get to choose what they do with their life. Whereas like your your average college graduate, like you're stuck with 20 years of student debt. You have these bronze handcuffs that college has shackled you with. And like, you have to go take certain jobs because like, you have to be making a certain amount of money.
Your entire, like personal spending budget has totally changed because of your student loan payments and everything. I think it's a really, again, like once you get over that initial hump of like, okay, I'm going to be the person who opts out of the, college conveyor belt and go figure things out on my own. It's really exciting what you can build for yourself.
And I think that's the cool thing about Praxis is like, just because you're choosing not to go to college, it doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own. I think what we do, what's really valuable about the program is like at 18, like I wouldn't know how to get my, real career started.
I would just know how to like, go get a job where I could make some money and then hopefully start saving enough where I could move outta my parents house but I think there's so much like context and guidance and support. Like here, I'll say this another way, like what I, how I look at Praxis is we are the ideal bridge from late, like, you know, late adolescence to early adulthood.
And just by saying Hey, like college probably isn't the most valuable way to get your career started, that doesn't mean nothing should exist in that gap in replace of it. And I think what we do really well is like, Help you take care of the basics. So you get to the point where you can look back at the end of the program and be like, Hell yes.
Like I started, I have started my career and I have started my adult life. I still have a lot to figure out as I go along, but I have at least just enough confidence that I can continue to do this. And I still have this like network and community to continue to tap into like what young people want is like context into what opportunities are out there, how to build valuable skills, how to access those first job opportunities and then ideally like a community of support of other people that are doing taking this route and other people will learn from that are three to five years ahead of you, 10 to 15 years ahead of you.
Ryan: Yep. And that's awesome and you guys do a fantastic job of that. Really, you know, it's funny, tell a quick story what you were saying about. We're in this weird spot where, kind of summarizing what you said, to not go to college is just going against the grain enough to, for, to make you unique, but it's really not that detrimental to your career. When I was graduating high school, I went to a small private all boys school and there was like 115 people in the class and only two guys didn't go to college.
Right. And that was a big marketing thing for the private school to say like 98% or whatever, 99% placement into college. They use that for their marketing and I look back now, and I laughed at one of this, one of the guys that wasn't going to go to college, and I literally laughed at him, was like, What are you gonna do?
He's like, Oh, I'm gonna go fix large appliances and large appliances being like refrigerators, your washing machines, stuff like that and I was like, All right, man, whatever. And, this guy is absolutely killing it. Like, you know, fast forward to the future. This guy is, 98% of our class went to college and he's doing better than like 98% of our entire class.
And exactly what he did, right? They think exactly what he did. He went and he fixed large appliances and he has his own shop and he built it up to a really successful business and while I was dicking around in college for four years and learning economics, which I haven't put into use since. Here he is building a successful, successful business, you know?
And so anyway, it's just interesting,
My graduating class, 99% of us went to college and everything and I just remember the stigma around the kids who were choosing to go to the local community college right out of high school instead of what four year university did you get into. And I just remember being like, just felt like embarrassment and shame for them of like, Oh yeah, they couldn't even get into like a good college and stuff. And one, like I went to my first college for not even a full year before I transferred back to the local community college.
And I realized like, that helped me in so many ways but too, like when a lot of our best participants went to community college for a year or two instead of going to the four year degree because they were smart enough to just, hey, like if they're going to go to college, I'm gonna do it in the most practical way.
And you're not losing anything from that experience and everything. But yeah, it's also really cool cuz I'm 30, about to be 32, so, I was in co- or I was graduating high school over 10 years ago, and it's so clear, like society is changing very quickly. Like the people that apply to the program today, in the early days of Praxis, it was like you had to be pretty radical to wanna do Praxis and you're gonna opt outta college and everything.
And you know, now it's just like, We have really like high quality, like really smart, impressive young people applying to the program and it's just like very nonchalantly yeah, college just doesn't really make sense. I want to get my life started. I have no interest in, going into all this debt I have, beyond just like the financial cost of college.
They just don't have confidence like colleges going to help them figure out what they want to do and how to go do it.
Ryan: Yeah. We see the same thing. This younger generation, good for them. I mean, they have that same, like my generation or our generation we're the same age as you know that wasn't a thing, right?
I mean, it was like, go to college, go to college, go to college. But these young people, as you're saying, good for them for right off the bat realizing, okay, maybe it's not gonna serve me and really thinking critically about the decision, which I should have done. Right.
I mean, I should have done that.
Cameron: Yeah. It was definitely not a decision. It wasn't are you going to college? It's what college are you going to?
Ryan: Exactly. And it wasn't like, nobody asked me like, How are you gonna pay for it? It was just like a I don't know, student loans, you know? I don't know. I'm just gonna work full time.
Like, I'll figure it out but you were talking about applying to Praxis and I did want to be respectful of your time. So there's a couple more questions. What is the process for people that are interested in Praxis? What is the application process like?
Cameron: Yeah, so I mean, you get started at discoverpractice.com.
You can start your application right away on the website. There's, there's a lot of information about how the program works and like alumni stories on the website too. Just like, if you're interested at all, just go to the website and start taking in as much information as you can and start to figure out like, Hey, do I think this could be a good fit for me or not?
The application process, it's really fun actually. Like initial application online, we asked you a handful of questions like, you know, why do you want to apply to Praxis in the first place? Like, we just want to get a better feel for like what you're looking to get out of the program.
Have you done your homework on the program and stuff? Asks you a bit about like, hey, what have been some of the most like, valuable professional experiences you've had, et cetera. And then from there you have a, half interview, half admissions call for the first interview where you get to talk to somebody on our team, learn more about how the program works, they're gonna, they want to get to know you, your background, your interests.
Our goal there is just to make sure like one, like we're both getting to know each other better, and the primary goal is like, make sure there's clear alignment between what you are looking for and what the natural focus of the program is and then after that you have a second team member interview where they're gonna dig more into like your work experience, other projects that you've worked on.
What kinds of career interests you have right now? Are you the kind of person who. Doesn't really have an idea of what they want to do at all, or, do you feel like you have pretty strong ideas of what you want to do? And, you know, both can work in the program? I would say the vast majority of our participants, they really don't know what they wanna do.
The bootcamp kind of helps them like start to gain clarity on like, Hey, are you a better fit to start at a smaller company and a customer facing role like sales or customer success, or are you more of like a analytical problem solver? Like here are different roles in marketing and operations that could be a good fit for that, et cetera. but yeah, that second interview, making more of a determination, like, hey, do you kind of fit the criteria that we're looking for? And then, you know, basic reference check. And then from start to finish you'll have a final decision on you know, if you're accepted in the program within like two to three weeks.
Awesome. So from that, just to clarify from initial application to acceptance of the program, two to three weeks, is that what you meant?
Ryan: Oh, perfect.
Cameron: So you apply, you'll get invited to the first interview within a day or two, and then usually like another week or two in between, and then you'll have a final decision within, like a week after that.
Ryan: And how often are you guys running cohorts?
Cameron: So pretty much every month of the year. This year we're doing 10 cohorts. We start them on a monthly schedule. Cohorts are, 15 to 20 participants each. So you have a nice size and each month of the bootcamp you're working with like one to two different, like dedicated bootcamp advisors and everything.
So we really focus on you have like hands on support. You're not just like going through an online course that we have in our portal and like it's up to you what you do with it. You get a lot of personalized feedback and you have different group workshops that you attend and everything.
So yeah, 10, roughly almost every month of the year we're starting a new cohort.
Ryan: Perfect. Perfect. And Cameron, last question, where do I send people to learn more about you? Discoverpraxis.com definitely for those that want to learn more about practice, but if they wanna follow you in your career, where can I send them?
Cameron: Yeah, Pro probably Twitter is the best. So just @ CameronSorsby you know, sharing a lot of practice content on there and mixing it up a little bit, but yeah, Twitter,
Twitter's the best place to follow me there. And then we actually have a exclusive offer for the degree free audience today so You can go to discoverpraxis.com/degree free and you can sign up for like your email and you'll receive more information.
You can schedule a call with somebody from the actual team to talk to. We're offering a thousand dollars scholarship for the program, for anyone that's coming from the Degree Free network.
Awesome. That's awesome, and for everybody, I will put the link in the show notes, degree free.co/podcast and you can get everything there.
And Cameron, thank you so much for your time. I have two more pages of questions, but we were run out of time, so hopefully soon we could, do a round two.
Cameron: Yeah, man, always up to do a part two. Anytime I really enjoyed it, Ryan, always love talking to you.
Ryan: Awesome. Thanks again, Cameron.
Thank you so much for listening everybody. If you guys want to get links to everything that we talked about, They'll be at our show notes, degreefree.co/podcast. Definitely say hi to Cameron on Twitter at Cameron Sorsby and check out Praxis discoverpaxis.com/degreefree and that'll give you a thousand dollars scholarship towards your tuition if you wanna sign up.
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Until next time, guys Aloha.
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