Marketing resources are scarce because businesses always need more of them. Publishing more content. Generating more insights from data. Testing more ads. Reaching out to more influencers. Speaking at more conferences…marketing truly never ends.
Which is why, as a marketer, I’ve often dreamt of recruiting a few scrappy volunteers to increase my output. Surely there’s an ambitious student eager to learn (and complete my project in the process?) I remember what it’s like to be an intern and hustle hard on tedious tasks for absolutely no pay. I did it with a smile because I was excited about adding a line of legitimate experience to my resume. I can’t remember how employers found me back then — probably via my university career site — but I guarantee it wasn’t as easy as Acadium.
What exactly is Acadium?
It’s a service so awesome I hesitate to review it publicly (lest it cease being effective for me, muaha) If you haven’t heard of Acadium (or GenM as it used to be called), grab a seat and buckle up.
Acadium is a two-sided platform that connects marketing students to real-world professionals for 12-week apprenticeships. You can think of it as an easy way to hire a motivated marketing intern for next to nothing. It works for everyone involved because:
- Students get free marketing education, as well as opportunities to find a mentor and gain experience working with real business operators.
- Employers enjoy nearly free labor from bright students with a primer in marketing fundamentals and hunger to learn more.
- Acadium (formerly known as GenM) collects a small commission for matchmaking.
Now let’s dive into the experience from the perspective of students, the pool of ambitious heroes ready to help your business grow.
How does Acadium work for student apprentices?
- Acadium attracts aspiring marketers by offering free online courses in:
- Email Marketing
- Social Media
- Paid Advertising
- Content Marketing
- Once students go through a marketing bootcamp, they receive a certificate of completion and get invited to the apprenticeship marketplace.
- Students can send and receive messages from employers interested in working with them.
- If an employer is ready to move forward, students simply “accept” the apprenticeship contract within the same chat window.
If this sounds appealing and you’d like to sign up to be a marketing apprentice, check this out. And for employers? Here’s what you can expect if you’re trying to hire on GenM.
How does Acadium work for employers looking to hire?
- Employers create a profile and have a brief chat with a Acadium staff member. If you have relevant digital marketing experience and agree to provide mentorship, you (the employer) can start browsing potential apprentices right away.
- Employers are able to message students that look promising and set up an introductory call / interview. Acadium recommends reaching out to between 15-20.
- When an employer is done evaluating candidates, they then purchase an apprenticeship credit for $299, and one-click submit an agreement for 10 hours/week. Then begins the 90 day (3 month) countdown.
- Once the apprentice countersigns, mentors and mentees are off to the races.
I used the service for the first time recently and was truly impressed. Here’s why.
My experience hiring an intern on Acadium (formerly GenM)
The total time from signup to hire was 3 days. I believe that’s at least 3x faster than my previous record on other online platforms like AngelList, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, etc. It’s even faster than I was able to vet quality candidate on more specialized contractor sites like nDash for content marketing. The speed to hire is especially impressive when you factor in how many candidates I was able to talk to. And yet, the most delightful part wasn’t speed or ease of use, but the quality of talent.
I’ve been amazed by my Acadium apprentice, Catherine. She’s proactive, easy to communicate with, curious, and already adding a ton of value with very minimal direction. It’s only been a few weeks since we started working together, but I’m already considering doubling down to find another intern like her. (“Is there a ‘clone apprentice’ feature yet?”) Perhaps I really lucked out, but so far I couldn’t be happier with my Acadium apprentice!
UPDATE: I’ve since hired another digital apprentice, also for content marketing. Two weeks in and so far I’ve been equally, if not more thrilled. Anne Silva has already produced an incredibly well-researched and SEO-optimized blog article in her first week, and is off to the races on her second. Like Catherine, she’s also been extremely professional and a joy to work with. If you have extra marketing work, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t spend a few hours to find a driven digital apprentice for $99 / month.
UPDATE #2: Circling back having just completed a 12-week stint with my first apprentice, Catherine. Overall it was a very worthwhile experience. The project she was working on became less of a focus for me overtime, and she also started to explore outside interests, so we decided to wrap up the engagement and part ways.
One takeaway I should emphasize: there’s definitely a good amount of management involved with any novice intern, so it’s hard to fully tease out ROI on your own investment of time. I think you know exactly what you want your apprentice to accomplish, and can do the heavy lifting upfront to break down the project into a series of mini tasks and milestones that your apprentice can visualize, then Acadium can be a solid investment.
What kind of work can you assign to an Acadium digital apprentice?
Employers can task their apprentice with any task, and are simply asked to provide feedback to help their apprentice learn. No other specific mentorship deliverables are required.
When I first signed up for Acadium, I wanted help with content marketing for Chatgroup.io, a way to manage private chat community memberships. The project I gave my apprentice was to create a paid chat community of her own, from scratch, and document every step of the process. Two weeks in, she already has a thriving Slack group with dozens of members. It’s a group where folks can connect to practice foreign language skills (English and Spanish). She’s already figured out how to attract dozens of members, and I have no doubt that the resulting content is going to be some of our best to date!
Again, this is just one example, but I’d say the sky’s the limit in terms of what you might task your intern with. I wasn’t sure if an apprentice would be able to handle such a multi-faceted project, but so far I’ve been very impressed.
Catherine has taken a tremendous amount of initiative to create a thriving online community. When she’s hit bumps in the road, we talk through them and she’s able to launch her next experiment to try and overcome the friction. We talk once a week to stay updated, and I try to make sure she’s learning throughout the process. I know I definitely am.
Can I end things early with my apprentice if things don’t work out?
To be clear: I’ve never wished to abbreviate an apprenticeship, but before signing up I did ask out of curiosity what might happen if an apprentice suddenly became unresponsive after signing a contract. What recourse would I have if it just “wasn’t a good fit”? Acadium told me it depends on the exact circumstances, but in most cases they allow employers to select a new intern and work with them for the remainder of the term, which seems reasonable enough.
UPDATE: I contracted with a third Acadium apprentice, who dove into his initial project before realizing he didn’t have enough free time to fully commit to the apprenticeship. Kind of a bummer because I saw tremendous potential in working together. Ultimately, not a huge deal, especially since Acadium has been very understanding and made good on their word to honor my $299 credit. I’m currently on the hunt for a replacement, which is taking a bit longer than my lightning-fast experience the first time, but confident I’ll find someone great soon.
How much does it cost to hire on Acadium?
- Employers pay $299 for three months, 10 hours/ week. That’s ~120 hours of work, or $2.49 per hour. Yes, there a few “hidden costs” in the form of time spent finding your intern, onboarding them, and mentoring, but my personal experience has still been very ROI-positive. Instead of $2.49.hr, the all in-cost may be closer to $5…which is still a steal.
- Apprentices don’t pay anything for Acadium’s online marketing courses, and in exchange, they aren’t paid for the time they spend working with employers.
Final Review: is Acadium the best way to hire marketing interns?
Success with Acadium ultimately hinges on spotting a self-motivated apprentice who you can work well with. I was able to do so twice, both in a matter of days, but this may have just been dumb luck. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had one apprentice bail on my earlier after realizing he didn’t have enough free time, but it has been a smooth transition to find a replacement.
As a business owner, marketer, or anyone with too much marketing work for one person, I highly recommend using Acadium to find an apprentice. The risk is low ($299) and the upside is huge in terms of the extra work you might get done. Go check out Acadium for yourself!