In our past work with Meratas, we’ve covered the basics of income share agreements (ISAs) and how students can ensure they’re getting the best ISA for themselves. ISA loans are helping many people achieve their dreams of attending coding bootcamps without paying upfront. But they’re also opening doors for people outside of tech.
ISAs are becoming more common throughout multiple schools and skills-training programs, and people are taking advantage of these agreements to change careers every day. We’ve spoken to three graduates in different fields to hear how an ISA loan with Meratas made their career shift possible.
Income Share Agreements and Skills-Training Programs
Meratas’s student-friendly features have made it popular among educators that are looking to add value for their students. Diesel mechanics, medical workers, product managers, and more are unlocking new careers thanks to its ISA platform. Dylan Riha and Randall Rommell are two Meratas ISA recipients that didn’t attend coding bootcamps, here’s what they have to say.
Dylan Riha – Salesperson, Prehired Member
Dylan Riha funded his education at Prehired, a tech sales membership organization, with an ISA. Prehired gives its members the training, mentoring, and network they need to land a full-time sales position at business-to-business software companies over a 12-week course. Before Dylan took the plunge at Prehired, he was in a precarious working position.
“I was working as a lifeguard, barely skating by, living paycheck to paycheck thinking I would amount to nothing,” Dylan said. “I spent my days renting out rooms and living from hotel to hotel, not knowing what was next for me. I was constantly depressed and trying to figure out what my next move was going to be.”
Dylan figured there had to be a better way, and thought that sales was the best route for him towards a lasting career.
“I chose the field I’m in because I’m very competitive by nature. Competition is what gets my juices flowing in the morning,” Dylan said. “I also chose the Sales Development career path because I am socially gifted by nature. I can spark up a conversation with anybody, any time of the day.”
But because Dylan wasn’t bringing in the paychecks he needed to pay for Prehired, he decided to bet on himself with an ISA. By choosing an ISA, he promised a percentage of his future earnings to the organization in exchange for an education.
“I decided to fund my program with an ISA because I honestly didn’t have the funds,” Dylan said. “As much as I wanted to make the change, I needed the money. Getting an ISA gave me the option to pay through my paychecks which helped me get where I am today. I like to think of an ISA as a student loan, but the only difference is you don’t have to pay anything unless you produce a lot of success.”
As Dylan said, ISA recipients don’t start to repay until they’re earning above a minimum income threshold. Most ISAs even come with a payment term that places a time limit on the funder’s ability to recoup their investment in the ISA recipient. This term incentivizes educators to train students who quickly get hired in high-paying positions.
Dylan, like most Prehired members, landed a job above the minimum income threshold and is now repaying the ISA. Even though he’s dedicating a portion of his monthly income to repaying the school, he says it doesn’t bother him.
“My ISA has been great since I’ve graduated,” Dylan said. “Everything is income-based, so you aren’t paying a hefty portion unless you are making a hefty amount of money. What you make determines how much you pay. While I was in training and working off my base salary, I didn’t have to worry at all while I was waiting for the commissions to roll in. The ISA hasn’t gotten in the way of my financial freedom whatsoever.”
Dylan isn’t the only person that took a code-free route into tech. Meratas has many partners that are helping people claim lucrative jobs in the tech field, like Product Gym for example.
Randall Rommell – Product Manager, Product Gym Member
Randall Rommell used an ISA to fund his education at Product Gym, a product management membership organization. Product managers take a product through its complete life cycle, from conception to a mass-produced good that can be sold. They accomplish this task with a combination of knowledge in engineering, data science, UX design, and more.
Product Gym members range from product management newcomers to longtime product managers who want to learn more and advance their careers. This organization’s elite membership studies the product management craft, but they also share resources and a network that makes it easier for them to find six-figure jobs in their field.
Randall was already working in tech as a programmer before he came to Product Gym. Before that, he left a corporate job to join his family’s real estate firm. Randall decided to make a career change because he felt there was more value in this position. He also liked that it made room for the many skills he’d acquired over the years.
“Product management helps me improve the muscle of finding out what is not known and pushing past that,” Randall said. “My eclectic background also made sense for product management.”
He spoke with several product managers from Product Gym to ask about the program, as well as the ISAs that made it more accessible. Because of this payment structure, he’s been able to learn a new trade, while also gaining access to an invaluable network of members who had been in his position. These members guide people who are actively learning, and provide connections in the industry once they’re ready to find a job.
“The alumni base is valuable. It’s not about what you know, but who you know,” Randall said. “This is also what makes PG very valuable.”
Randall and Dylan were both able to join membership organizations that helped them boost their new careers. Though they both were able to take advantage of ISAs to fund their non-traditional paths into tech, ISAs still remain a valid option for many people that are interested in coding.
Income Share Agreements and Coding Bootcamps
The amount of coding bootcamps that offer ISAs makes sense. As a non-traditional learning path, these educators could quickly see the value in this disruptive funding model. Now, these early adopters’ faith is paying off, as they can expand their operations and their alumni networks to people who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to attend. Zach Petersen is one of many graduates that could claim this opportunity thanks to an ISA.
Zach Petersen – Software Developer, Lambda School
Zach Petersen attended Lambda School, a more traditional coding bootcamp that offers courses on data science and full-stack web development. Like many people who attend coding bootcamps, Zach’s path to software development had a few twists and turns.
“Before my educational program at Lambda School, I had a bit of an eclectic background,” Zach said. “I’ve worked in film, I was an extra (background actor) for a while. I have a realty company. I was kind of trying to find my place in the world.”
He decided to take the plunge into tech because of tech’s pervasiveness in the modern world. He knew that tech would be the future of business, he just didn’t know how he would afford to make the leap. Thankfully, Lambda School’s ISA offered a bit of relief for someone who’d had a bumpy ride.
“I don’t have the best credit and traditional school loans, or college loans, in general, are quite expensive,” Zach said. “ISAs kind of maximize the potential of your learning while the school only profits if you profit. It was kind of an interesting idea in the sense that they don’t make the money unless they make sure you’re the best you could possibly be. And that offered so many different opportunities that traditional college, or at least my experience with them, doesn’t offer. So an ISA was really the only choice that made sense for me.”
As Zach mentioned, the ISA funder doesn’t profit unless the recipient can find a job above a certain income threshold. Due to this mutually beneficial relationship, many educators work diligently to help their graduates find a job after graduation.
“I’m not quite meeting the threshold to start paying the ISA back yet,” Zach said. “But, Lambda School’s done nothing but try to help find the jobs that get you to that point that you’re making money and then they’re making money. So it invests their interest in you and teaches you whatever they can. Whether through career services or the actual program in tech, I’ve learned so much over the past year and a half.”
With a bright future in his new tech career, Zach has seen firsthand what ISAs have to offer. He believes that anyone considering an ISA should do their research and trust in the process.
“I think it’s really nothing but a great choice. There’s so much flexibility in the way that you learn, and it’s all about maximizing your potential,” Zach said. “The school is invested in your potential and without that, it’s kind of just like a free-for-all. Lambda School has been great with career services and Meratas has been great with helping me with my ISA, so I don’t see the reason why you couldn’t take that chance and bet on yourself.”
These three people are just a few of the thousands of students that could only access a new career thanks to their ISAs. There are dozens of educators in many fields, including some traditional universities, that offer ISAs. These educators are showing students that they’re committed to giving them an education that produces tangible results. And students are reaping the benefits by knowing what they’ll be paying for their education.
If you want more information on ISAs and how they can help you, visit Meratas’s Ultimate Guide to ISAs.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.