Gone are the days when smart and enterprising young college graduates could head to The Big City and easily find a desirable job.


Thinkful’s education platform provides students and recent graduates with one-on-one training  in high-demand, practical skills. Today, the company announced that it received $1 million in seed financing from Peter Thiel, RRE Ventures, Quotidian Ventures and others.

“The demand for professional education is surging as jobs become more specialized,” said Stuart Ellman of RRE Ventures in a statement. “Over 56% of recent college grads are unemployed or underemployed, yet 300,000 positions in highly skilled job sectors remain unfilled. No longer must education be seen as a distinct period in a young person’s life. We must constantly be retraining ourselves.”

Programming and design skills are extremely valuable in today’s job market, even outside of Silicon Valley. Thinkful adopts the “apprenticeship” teaching model, whereby students work with qualified mentors and gain practical experience through projects. Featured courses include HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Git, and wireframing, among others. Tutors personalize the curriculum based on each student’s backgrounds, needs, and goals.

The front-end course lasts about three months and costs $750. In addition to mentorship and experiential projects, students also have access to Thinkful’s Employer Network, which involves about 50 tech companies interesting in hiring its graduates.

Many people have turned to Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCS) like Coursera, Udacity, Khan Academy, and to bolster their professional skill set, appreciating them as cost-effective, accessible, and convenient alternatives to real-world institutions. However, the openness of the channel means the quality of the education is not always on the same level.

“The simple fact of education is that we learn best from experts,” said CEO and cofounder Darrell Silver in a statement. “Nine out of ten students enrolling in massively open online courses aren’t completing them. We believe personal interaction and collaboration with students is required, and we’re building Thinkful to make this possible for everyone.”

Silver’s cofounder Dan Friedman was selected as one of the first 20 Under 20 Thiel Fellows in 2011, and Thinkful marks the first investment Thiel has made in a Thiel Fellows company. Thinkful is based in New York City. Over the past four months, twenty-five students participated in the pilot program and Thinkful worked together with employers to develop the curricula. This financing will contribute to adding coaches and expanding the number of students.

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