Boost Academy Introduces Knowledge Workers to the Sharing Economy

Boost Academy Blog Post, June 2015

Alan Peck is a recent graduate with a bachelor of science in civil engineering from UC Berkeley. It’s a prestigious degree from America’s pre-eminent public university. And it’s enabled him to earn decent money tutoring high school and college students throughout the country in statistics and calculus on a new iPad-based math tutoring platform developed by Boost Academy.

While he’s more than comfortable walking his charges through the intricacies of standard deviations and chi-squared tests, he says that without Boost Academy, he’d likely be engaged in decidedly less mind-taxing, less career-related endeavors such as waiting tables or working on a construction crew as he pursues his master’s degree in structural engineering from San Jose State University.

“There’s no way I could ever run a tutoring business by myself,” he says from his home in Berkeley, Calif. “I’m an engineer. I have no idea how to go out and get new students as customers. And if I did manage to land a student, I’d certainly have no desire or inclination to cross the Bay Bridge at rush hour in order to tutor them. So for me, Boost Academy’s been a godsend. I can make great money. I have the flexibility to work around my class schedule. And I feel I can really make a difference in the academic lives of my students.”

Peck’s status in the job market is representative of tens of thousands of highly educated knowledge workers who are transitioning from the world of academia to a career in their chosen field. However, that transition is often not a linear one. Some individuals like Peck are required to pursue more education. Some have been high achievers their entire lives and just want to take a respite from the treadmill. Others are eager to put their newfound knowledge to work while taking time to explore potential career paths they hadn’t yet considered.

“Tutoring is the new waitressing,” said Anna Craver, who not only holds an engineering degree from Northeastern University, but has also built an impressive resume that includes experience as a biomedical engineer for a major medical device company. “It’s something that once you’ve gained some initial expertise, you can pretty much do anywhere. And if you work hard, the money’s quite good.”

Boost Academy is one of the first technology firms to help knowledge workers plug themselves into the sharing economy on a wide scale. The company’s innovative platform enables tutors to connect with students anywhere, anytime.

“The convenience for our tutors can’t be overstated,” said Mark Baucum, the company’s Director of Tutoring. “Most, if they had to do this face-to-face, probably wouldn’t be tutoring. It’s far too time consuming, there’s wear-and-tear on their car, gas expenses, etc. Additionally, traditional tutoring isn’t really that flexible. Most of the tutoring happens between the end of the school day and dinner time – typically 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. And if you live in a big city with lots of traffic, that means you can only tutor one or two kids per day, maximum. The pay-off really isn’t there. By tutoring via our iPad app, though, our West Coast tutors can start working with students in, say, Boston, New York, Washington, Atlanta, in the morning. They can then follow the sun, tutoring kids in Chicago, Dallas and Denver, before moving on to students in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles in the late afternoon or evenings. As a result, a Boost Academy tutor can handle 5 to 10 sessions per day, if they want. And with that kind of volume, comes the kind of financial stability that can make math tutoring the important, rewarding work it should be.”

Craver decided to direct her talents to math tutoring after taking some time away from her engineering career in order to start a family.

“Tutoring over the iPad on the Boost Academy platform was ideal for me,” said Craver. “I could work from home and could schedule everything around my doctor’s appointments and all the preparations required for having a baby. And, of course, there was the added bonus of getting to work with some really great kids and feeling like I was really using my skills and helping others. I wasn’t just sitting at home taking time off.”

Craver specializes in tutoring middle and high school students in algebra and geometry, with a special knack for motivating and inspiring girls to pursue college degrees and professional STEM-related careers. Because of the convenience of the Boost Academy platform, Craver was able to tutor until two days before she brought her baby daughter into the world.

For Lindsey Anderson, tutoring is something of a respite – a change of pace that enables her to put her considerable talents to a different use.

“I’ve always been a high achiever,” said Anderson. “And from the time I was in high school, I was always focused on grades, on the next test, the next course, the next degree.”

After achieving the pinnacle of academic success – a Ph.D. in applied physics from prestigious Rice University (with a 3.99 GPA, no less) – Anderson said she wanted to take a year or two to step off the academic treadmill.

“My dad worked in the same job for the same company for decades,” she observed. “And that’s fine, but I think people of my generation are quite a bit different. We’re OK with uncertainty, and we embrace the flexibility that technology brings. So by and large, we view the sharing economy as a good thing.”

Anderson has developed into a top tutor at Boost Academy, specializing in helping high school and college students master the rigors of calculus.

“Tutoring with Boost Academy has enabled me to explore new career possibilities without having to lock myself into a 40- or 50-hour-a-week job. By working with students over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself. And by stepping away from the competitive grind of academia, I feel I now have more perspective on what I want to do next. All this, and I’ve been able to make ends meet, too.”