Many young adults have trouble determining which career path suites their interests, personality, values, and skills. PathSource sets out to change the way students and recent graduates make education and career choices. PathSource CEO Aaron Michel answered some questions about PathSource and how it can help users achieve career success.
1. Many students and recent graduates have trouble finding the right career path. How does PathSource help users make the right education and career-related decisions?
Aaron: Young adults who are entering the workforce face a series of significant stumbling blocks. Many don’t think about their career path at all, carpet bomb job boards and take the first job that comes along. This is, of course, not a recipe for success. But even the students who do put some thought into their career goals prior to applying for jobs often focus too much on either salary or passion to the exclusion of the other. The earlier kids start thinking about their career path, the better off they’ll be because their career goals should influence their choice of educational path.
PathSource takes its users through a robust, thoughtful career exploration process that incorporates passion, salary and other key factors into decision-making. For instance, a user who doesn’t know what she or he wants to do can start by taking what we call a Lifestyle Assessment. This 5 minute assessment evaluates your lifestyle and geographic location to tell you what level of after tax salary you need to support the lifestyle you want to have, localized to where you live. It will also help you think through basic budgeting for that lifestyle.
Then that user can do a slightly longer assessment of their interests. The resulting career recommendations combine the user’s interests and passion with their salary requirements. More importantly, we combine those career recommendations with gritty, honest informational interviews on video with people in our recommended careers alongside in-depth contextual career data. The videos come from our library of 2,700 interviews with people in every job you can imagine.
At a high level, our goal at PathSource is to help young adults figure out what career-related output they want from their educational process. Then we can help them either work backwards to figure out what college and college major can help them get there or work forwards to actually find a job in their industry or role of choice. The most important thing is that we give them all of the tools they need in an incredibly well designed, intuitive process to make informed decisions. That’s why we have a net promoter score over 90 and an average 5 out of 5 star rating on the Apple App Store.
2. In addition to the PathSource website, you also offer a mobile app. Who should download the app and how does it work?
Aaron: The mobile app is designed for college students and graduates. There are a number of differences between the website and the app. The mobile app has a job board and more localized job data as well as personalized ads related to how to save money and live within your budget. The website has a much more robust college search function. We’re also going to be rolling out a number of really exciting job search tools on the app over the coming months.
One of the cool aspects of the app is that we determine what the user is looking to achieve right when they sign in. So regardless of whether a user is looking for a job, choosing an industry or deciding on a college major, the app will curate a set of services to them that specifically address their needs. As a result, we’ve designed a system that is a great fit for everyone from incoming college freshmen to young adults who are a few years out of school or haven’t attended college at all. The excellent feedback that we’ve received from people in a range of circumstances has really meant a lot to our team and suggests that we’re on the right track.
Users can download the app for free on the Apple App Store. We’ll have an Android version available in a few months as well.
3. What are some changes you hope to see in the near future regarding higher education and/or employment? And what are some industry trends that you’re seeing?
Aaron: What we’re seeing is that both higher education and the companies that serve young adults’ career needs just don’t get it. In higher education today, the average annual budget for a college career services office is just $34,000. That’s an embarrassingly low number. At the same time, some of these same schools are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new facilities that their students don’t need and didn’t ask for. The result is that students are getting short shrift because they’re entering the workforce unprepared for the job search and career advancement process. There are some notable exceptions among top colleges. For instance, Northeastern and Boston University have both opted to truly invest in their career services and in their students’ futures. But that is still the exception rather than the rule.
In employment-related consumer-facing tools, the focus is still on finding any job rather than finding the right career path. I once found a website listing over a thousand different job boards. As I explored, what I found is that all of them had a slightly different approach to connecting a job seeker with a company. But virtually none of them helped the job seeker determine whether they were looking in the right industry or function, let alone connecting these considerations with the appropriate educational path to get there. It’s a major problem that has massive long term consequences for young adults.
4. Is there any advice you can offer young adults struggling to find the right career path?
Aaron: Of course! They should use PathSource! Seriously, one of the reasons I started PathSource is because I almost went down a career path into the legal profession that wouldn’t have been a good fit for me. I spent years in college doing pre-law. It was only as a result of a last-minute internship that I decided to take that I changed my mind. If I had PathSource or had spoken with more people in the industry earlier, I could have saved years of opportunity cost.
The takeaway? The important thing is to start early, figure out what’s important to you and think broadly about the range of factors that should be incorporated into this type of decision. The earlier kids can begin gaining experience and hearing directly from people in key jobs, the better off they will be.