This article contains affiliate links. If you hire an apprentice after registering with my link, I will get some $$. Having said that, I will make this article 100% unbiased.
I’ve been using Acadium for last year now and a lot of people have reached me out to ask if it is worth it. This aims to be a complete and detailed review that will help you decide whether you should hire an apprentice on Acadium or not.
Acadium is a platform that connects startups with marketing students for 3-month apprenticeships.
If you’re running a startup, there may be a huge need for marketing and sales to grow your business. However, being a startup means you’re low on certain resources - mainly money and time.
Acadium aims to provide a solution to that problem. They allow businesses to hire marketers at approximately $3/hour, saving you time and allowing you to grow your sales.
This may sound like slave labor, but it’s not. Both parties get some benefits - more on that below.
Few years ago, Acadium wasn't called Acadium. It was GenM.
Due to lots of changes made in their functionality and pricing, the company decided to re-brand as Acadium, installing a new brand image and re-built website. In this re-brand, the company did also solved many of the issues and complaints made by customers that GenM used to have.
As Acadium is a two-sided platform, it works differently for businesses and students. Here's how it works for both:
The first thing you do as an entrepreneur/business that wants to start using Acadium is to visit their website and create an account. You will be then asked to create a profile and provide some information about yourself.
It’s important to make your profile interesting and attractive. Otherwise, students won’t be interested in you and will ignore your messages.
You will then be asked to complete the registration process by having a call with their team. There's the chance that you won't even need to do the call and you will be ready to start your search of students straight away.
Once you are done with the call, this is what you will see:
Many things are going on here but they are super simple to understand.
The red area are the filters you can use as a business to find students that fit what you're looking for.
In that way, you can filter by country (I'd recommend you to select countries that have a similar time zone to where your company is based in), language (be careful here as many students select English as their main language and it's their second one), type of work (such as content marketing, SEO or social networks), interests (that the student has, such as "Entrepreneurship", "Music" or "Art") and tools (there're just the essential ones, such as Wordpress and Mailchimp).
The blue area is where you will find the students' profiles.
At the bottom you'll find a description about the person and below it, things like their interests, languages, studies and tools they know how to use. Note two important things. The first one is that below the name, you can find the time difference the student has according to where you're based in (in this case, -5 hours). The second one is that in the upper left corner, you will find out students' resumés and all their previos working experience.
The green area is where you will chat with your selected students.
Once you’ve found some people you think that could fit, you will probably try to contact them, but you won’t be able to. You will be asked to first buy a credit. Once you've bought the credit, you will use the green area to exchange some words with them and probably schedule a call. The same Acadium has a videocall & call feature but I'd recommend you to do it outside the platform.
You see there that there also are "chat requests". Once you have set up your business profile and have more experience within the platform, students will also start to contact you, instead of you contacting them.
How Much does Acadium Cost?
Acadium's pricing is a little bit complex. They have three plans:
Basic: $399 per credit to hire 1 apprentice for 3 months.
Pro: $99/month billed annually. You can hire multiple apprentices (even the Acadium Plus ones).
Enterprise: $899/month. Similar to the Pro but includes an account manager and hiring and matching support.
Each week, the apprentice can work for 5-10 hours, and in some cases (if they are really enthusiastic), they will work even longer. Each month, they will work an average of 30 hours, so you would be getting marketing work done for an astonishing $3-4/hour.
Once you’ve bought the credit, you will be able to continue reaching some apprentices. Go ahead and book a call with the team if you're still not sure (remember to mention you're coming from Failory; otherwise, you won't have any discount).
Acadium Discount Code
We've recently partnered with Acadium to give Failory's users an exclusive $50 discount on the platform. Instead of paying $399, you can get one credit for $349. Get the discount here!
Apart from the discount, I'm willing to personally provide you with help & consultancy on how to find & manage an apprentice as well as build a team of interns. Just shoot me an email!
What Kind of Work Can Apprentices Do?
Acadium allows you to hire apprentices to do the following types of work:
As you can see, there are lots of different categories and, if you can’t find the one you are looking for in the list above, that’s not a problem. You can actually hire the intern to carry out any marketing-related task, as long as you find an apprentice that’s interested.
Social media is the category in which most apprentices want to work in, so there are around 3,400 candidates. Public relations is the category with the least amount of candidates, around 1,400.
But, does this list really mean that you can hire apprentices for all of those types of work?
Well, I’ve personally hired apprentices to work on social networks, analytics, SEO and content creation (more about this before), so I haven’t tried all of the possible types of work.
However, considering my experience with the apprentices, I would say you won’t be able to get high-quality work on all of those categories. Here’s my opinion about the type of work you can and can’t find:
Social media: You won’t have big problems. There are thousands of apprentices interested in social media growth so you will probably find someone that fits and can do a great job in a matter of days.
Content marketing: Lots of apprentices want to write content and some of them have previous experience on blogs/news/other media. Acadium can be a great alternative if you’re looking to hire a content writer.
SEO: From my experience, it was quite hard to find interns able to carry out SEO campaigns. You won’t find someone you can tell to help raise the SERP ranking of a specific page of your website and he/she will do it. You will, instead, need to share a lot of resources with the apprentice and give him/her specific tasks to do, such as, write a guest post, or look for competitors backlinks using X tool.
Paid advertising: I personally wouldn’t recommend you to try it. I have no doubts you can find an apprentice that has done some previous work with paid advertising and can give you a hand. But you need to know that your money can be lost without much ROI.
Email marketing: It can definitely work, especially if you need the apprentice to write weekly newsletters or interact with your email subscribers.
Graphic design: Not sure about it. I have searched for some apprentices who were interested in graphic design, had some experience with and were able to work with the necessary tools, but didn’t have any luck.
What Happens if There Are Any Conflicts with the Apprentice?
So you’ve decided what will the apprentice work on and found a great fit. But, problems can always occur. In fact, my first apprenticeship needed to be canceled (more about this below).
When the brand was still GenM, I read on Quora and other blogs that their Customer Support didn’t resolve some people’s problems. I'm pretty sure the re-brand also brought some changes here as I now see on their pricing page that they offer a 7-day refund.
In my case, I haven't had any problems getting help from Customer Support. There was a conflict with the apprentice, so the contract was canceled. I was given my credit back and could use it for another apprenticeship.
Don't forget about the $50 off code! Instead of $399, you'll get one credit for just $349. Shoot me an email if you have any kind of questions or need help with the tool.
Okay, but what would the apprentice gain from working for only $3/hour?
Well, in fact, the apprentice works for $0/hour. The $399/credit payment is kept by Acadium and used to keep the platform live and continue adding new features.
When students join Acadium (for free), they have access to a series of digital marketing courses. Are they any good? I haven’t personally checked them out, but I asked my apprentices and they told me they were okay.
I estimate they give you an idea about the topic so that, if you are interested in that aspect of digital marketing, you can learn more in depth on your own.
Apart from getting access to these courses, they enter the database and businesses can find and hire them for apprenticeship opportunities. This allows them to build up their resume and gain experience. Who knows if this apprenticeship doesn't lead to a part-time and then full-time job position?
Finally, a third benefit that apprentice may get a few years after working on the platform is to find a full time job through Acadium's Talent Hub.
If you are an apprentice, you can join the platform using this link.
One of the most frequently asked questions is if Acadium is legit.
Yes, it is legit. You and the apprentice will be asked to sign a contract that will protect both the business and the apprentice.
Where or not it is morally correct to have someone working for your business for 40 hours per month for free... well that’s another question.
Internships and apprenticeships aren’t something new. The only thing that Acadium is making new is to essentially virtualize the process.
In my opinion, as long as you provide enough mentorship and help the apprentice develop his/her skills while giving a great boost to his/her resume, it’s morally okay. There actually was a discussion about this on this Hacker News thread.
My Personal Experience Using Acadium
So this wouldn’t be a complete Acadium review without telling my personal experience using the tool.
I’ve hired 4 apprentices in Acadium, all at the same time. This is NOT what I recommend to do. I’d recommend you to start with one apprentice and see if that works. If it does work well, and you want more marketing help, go ahead and hire more people. You will maximize the value you're getting if you do it this way.
Anyway, I wanted to take this experiment to an extreme and considered that, in the worst scenario, I was going to lose $400-$500 and some time.
But before hiring these 4 apprentices, I had a failed attempt.
My First and Failed Attempt
I found about Acadium in late-November 2018 and decided to give it a try in mid-December. In my first try, I wanted to do things quieter and only hire one apprentice. I was looking for some help on managing Failory’s interview with failed startup founders.
So I bought one Acadium credit and start reaching out to a lot of people. Some mistakes I made:
I didn’t focus on any specific ability, I just looked for native English speakers.
I underestimated the difficulty of finding and contacting interviewees as well as getting interviews finished.
It wasn’t an exciting job opportunity for the apprentices.
I found some apprentices who were interested in the site and had some calls. They went quite well, but none of the candidates sounded really interesting or enthusiastic about the opportunity.
Without any great criteria, I chose one of those interns, signed the contract and set up everything so that she could join the team. She signed the contract and that was it... I never heard from her again.
How Good is Acadium's Support Team?
After two weeks with no contact from the apprentice, I contacted the Acadium support team and in a matter of 2 or 3 days, I had my credit again and this apprentice was removed from the system.
I’ve previously exchanged many emails with the team and even the CEO was keen on carrying out an interview for Failory. In my experience, the support team has always helped me really well.
There is even an email in which you can contact them if you are struggling to find an apprentice that fits what you are looking for and they can share you some tips or recommend your business on a weekly newsletter they send to students.
There are some people in Reddit and Quora who claimed to have received really bad support (during the time Acadium was GenM) but that was not my experience. They probably have changed the way they do it during the past few years.
My Second and Successful Try
So I now had one credit to use in a new apprenticeship. But in the meantime, I went on holidaysand it was a month later when I finally decided to use it.
I decided to hire someone to carry out content creation & SEO tasks. But to take this experiment to an extreme, I bought 3 more credits. I decided to hire 3 content writers and 1 community manager.
How Did I Find Apprentices that Fit?
This time, I was more careful with who I was about to hire. I realized interviewing startup founders and publishing the interviews on Failory wasn’t a really exciting job opportunity for someone who was interested in learning digital marketing.
So I decided to look for content writers, and to find them, I searched for people who were interested in this skill, were English native speakers, and were from the UK, USA, and Australia. This way I was able to find 30-40 interesting candidates.
In the case of the community manager, I think he reached out to me and expressed interest in working on the site.
How Did I Reach Them?
I didn’t want to commit the same mistakes as before, so I contacted the Acadium team to ask them their recommendations on reaching potential apprentices. This is what they told me.
“We suggest having a strong opening message to students because it is the first point of contact. Instead of telling them what you're looking for at the start, ask what they want to learn. It will open up the conversation and you can gauge whether they could be good for you or not. Just make sure to ask open-ended questions so they have to give a logical answer as opposed to answering with a yes or no. It's important to engage the student a bit before hopping on a call right away because they will know you better and the call will be more effective.”
And they also shared me this template:
“Hey (student name),
I run an SEO & content marketing consultancy (list what your business does) called XYZ (your business). We help clients grow their organic traffic through content marketing and SEO (main sources of marketing).
Currently, we are looking for an apprentice that loves to learn and apply digital marketing skills to real sites that are growing. Always great if you have some experience in digital marketing, but not necessary if you love that space and are a fast learner.
Would be great to start the discussion and hear what you're looking for and if we might be a good fit!
What types of skills are you looking to learn and apply?"
So I customized this a little bit and used Acadium's massive messaging tool to reach 40 potential apprentices.
There were 5-10 people interested in the opportunity so, following what the Acadium team had recommended me, I started chatting with them and asking them different questions about their experience, studies, hobbies…
This lead to 6 calls with different content writers and a call with the community manager. From these calls, I hired 3 content writers, based on their previous experience in writing content and their business knowledge, as well as the community manager.
Every week, I’ll send you Failory’s latest content, curated resources, and updates on how I’m growing the site to $10k/mo. Join +7,000 other startup founders!
How Do I Manage the Apprentices?
I’d recommend you to set a strong and defined workflow to communicate and get things done. These are the tools I’m using:
Zoho Mail: I create a @failory.com email address for every apprentice in case they need to reach out to other blogs, contact anyone for an interview, etc.
Slack: If your business already has a Slack URL for your team, I’d suggest you to invite your apprentice/s. If you don’t use Slack for your company/team, I totally recommend you try it, as it will make communication much easier. Communication is essential because apprentices tend to be quite busy due to university or other jobs and can’t be checking their business email all the time.
Notion: It has become my favorite productivity tool. Here’s where we have all the documents, plans, strategies, calendars, and lists related to Failory. We also use Notion as our to-do list app, but you can go with a separate tool for this.
On the web side, we also use Google Docs and Webflow.
Keeping in close communication is essential to keep your apprentice motivated on the project and, potentially, extend the 3-month contract for a longer period. Some of the apprentices I’ve hired are so motivated about the project that they want to keep working on the site as interns.
Sharing these apprentices links and resources so that they can keep learning about the topic they are working in is essential. Same with giving feedback, it tends to be really appreciated as they learn a lot from it.
The process of giving feedback on Acadium is quite tedious. Every week, you will be asked to complete how well the apprentice worked that week. But you don’t need to answer the questionnaire, you can skip it. What you won’t be able to escape from, will be the final evaluation of the apprentice, which he/she will use in their resume.
How Much Time Did This Entire Process Take?
One of the questions I receive the most is how much time does finding, managing and giving feedback to apprentices take. Here’s an estimated report:
First stage: Understand Acadium's dashboard, find candidates and send them messages: 2 hours.
Second stage: Chatting with these candidates and having calls: 3 hours.
Third stage: Deciding on an apprentice from the candidate list and setting up everything for them: 1 hour.
Fourth stage: Onboarding the apprentice into your business. The amount of hours depends on the difficulty of what you do and what you want the apprentice to work on 1-3 hours.
Fifth stage: Assigning tasks and giving feedback: 1 hour per week.
This results in an approximate of 8 hours to find and hire an apprentice and 1 hours/week to manage him/her.
Quality of the Work
This tends to be a big worry. One guy once asked me:
“Did you try and find specific expertise or are they kind of jack of all trades, masters of none?”
I think there are both of these types of candidates out there. There are some students who are just trying to find what aspect of digital marketing they like the most, so they don’t have any specific expertise yet. But in other cases, students have already found what do they like to work on and what they are best at, and these can provide much higher quality work to your business.
As for my personal experience, the apprentices had some previous relevant experience. One of the content writers I hired, for example, had won a writing competition, and another one is running a personal blog.
So yeah, I think it depends a lot on what type of work you are looking for.
Final Acadium Review: Is it worth it?
In my personal experience: Yes, it totally was worth it.
Our social networks’ following have grown a lot since I’ve hired the community manager, as I wasn’t actually posting anything before; many of the existing Failory blog posts have been improved and are beginning to increase the SEO rankings, and new articles, as well as guest posts, were successfully written and published.
The experiment had greater results than what I was expecting and I’m planning to keep using Acadium in the next months.
I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works. The greatest possible loss you will suffer will be $349 and some time.
Finally, if you have any other doubts or believe I’m missing anything, do not hesitate to reach out to me.
If you have found this article useful, make sure to use our affiliate link ($50 discount included) - it helps me keep this website active!