iXperience - Truly the Experience of a Lifetime?

Summer is quickly approaching for college students across the nation, and with summer comes the inevitable internships, volunteer work, and extra courses. Students will be taking their first steps into many different types of career fields in hopes of gaining work experience that will prepare them for their professional specialities in the years to come. One summer internship choice that many students decide to take on every summer is called iXperience.

iXperience is an “innovative career-accelerating program” based in South Africa and founded by Yale alumni Mitch Gordon, Andrew Dunkle, and Tucker Hutchinson. With campuses in three major cities (Lisbon, Berlin, and Cape Town), it targets current college students as an innovative career-accelerating program meant to teach relevant skills before providing them with the opportunity to apply them.

What is the price one pays to learn these “high-demand skills”? There are two packages you can choose between if accepted into iXperience: a four-week course for $6900 or an eight-week course and internship for $8900. This is a pretty high price to pay for just four weeks of class, especially in comparison to the prices of a summer course at a real university; what is the claimed value behind these numbers? Their website sneakily hints that these numbers hide additional costs:

“... [You will get] four weeks of tuition during which time you will be taught by a head instructor and two teaching assistants. On top of this, you get accommodation and unique iXperience weekend excursions. You will only have to cover airfare, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any extra excursions or social outings that you plan independently of the program.”  

With the inclusion of that last line, a summer with the iXperience program will most likely end up costing you $10,000 or more.

Although “high-demand skills” sound great, how is this program more appealing than getting an internship that can teach you similar skills and provide you with more tangible work experience while getting paid, instead of you paying them? Not only this, but how legitimate is iXperience? How tangible are the skills that these students are learning? What is the return on the investment students are making after spending thousands for a few weeks of courses?

Former program participants have apparently gone on to claim jobs at Facebook, Microsoft, Bain, Accenture, and McKinsey, but the program does not release percentages of people from their program who are hired to where. Also, there is no way of knowing if these participants’ resumes included exclusively the skills they received on iXperience. So tangibly there is nothing asserting that iXperience alone is a foolproof way of getting a job in the future, making it a risky investment.

So the question remains, is iXperience, and programs similar to it, worth the cost? Could paying thousands for a summer of skills be worth more than obtaining an internship, one that could most likely provide the same skills in a hands-on, more cost-effective way? It appears that programs like these aren’t really more advantageous to furthering a professional career than getting a summer internship, and they seem to be made specifically for students who can afford to pay $10,000 to learn the skills. When making decisions for summer plans: if you happen to be able to spend a few grand and get accepted to this program, it could be worth your while, but perhaps should not be your very first choice.