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learn / 2014

Creating an equal opportunity to succeed by mentorship from someone that has the career you want

Creating an equal opportunity to succeed by mentorship from someone that has the career you want

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by The Prep Source

Giving everyone who wants to better themselves a fair chance and an equal opportunity to succeed from high school and beyond.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

Giving everyone who wants to better themselves a fair chance and an equal opportunity to succeed from high school and beyond.

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • South LA
  • San Gabriel Valley
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South Bay
  • Westside

What is your idea/project in more detail?

The Prep Source is an Online Marketplace connecting job seekers and higher education applicants with mentors who already have the career or attend the school applicant wants.

Mentors will come from all industries including finance, technology, entertainment, accounting, consulting, law, medicine, consumer products, etc. Many mentors come from USC and UCLA. Job functions are typically software development, marketing, finance, accounting.

Highly specific preparation is required to get into the college or job of your dreams and we provide preparation from someone who has already gone through the exact same process to provide as precise information as possible to best position the candidate for the career of their dreams.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

We have already started implementing the project on a small scale by completing the first release of the website.

Currently the website has grown to 50 mentors and with the $100,000 we can scale much more quickly by adding dedicated technology resources and incorporating the students themselves in the growth process.

The methodology used to implement the project will be the same technology product management/project management I learned from my prior career experience. For example, I follow the same project management techniques I learned at Goldman Sachs, the marketing experience I used when at Adobe, and user adoption/strategy from Live Nation/Ticketmaster.

I have extensive experience in leadership functions and was the Class President of the USC MBA Program in 2011.

More importantly, to gain mass adoption across college, community college, and high school campuses you will have to get buy-in and understand the perspective of users. In many previous jobs I have assembled teams of interns and helped them use their problem solving skills to take ownership of the product and building out the strategy within their own schools. After all they themselves are the target demographic, they will just need guidance and feedback as I let them take on a leadership role themselves.

Gather the feedback of students and have them lead the deployment within their own communities and help them learn the business aspects by observing and guiding them throughout this process.

Work with administration in universities, community colleges, and high schools to launch the product on a large scale. Continue to network with outside parties at education conferences to identify other means of deploying and gaining exposure for hte product.

Work directly with leadership in student organizations to have them promote and reach out to the constituents to promote the product and get their feedback as well to refine the product.

Work with teachers and professors to launch the product to their students as well as gain feedback from them regarding the product.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to LEARN today? In 2050?

Today our project will help students will be able to identify and define career paths that they did not even know exist and jobs in industries that are growing rapidly (renewables, etc.). Students will be able to look for jobs they did not originally believe to be in their career path, they can experiment with different careers without spending years deciding whether or not they will like them, thus decreasing employee turnover. The medium in which we employ to help students throughout this path will incorporate social elements and gamification concepts to keep it interesting for those with the lower attention span. General advancement of skill sets directly related to these jobs would be great as well since the mentors will also be generating webinars, slideshows, and other content for students to learn from.

Underemployment will decrease as the students are better able to market their skills and abilities to employers so that they can best use the skills that they developed attaining their college degree. Much of the reason for underemployment is students not being aware of how to translate their skills into the workforce.

Students will be able to determine whether this career is a good fit for them through information interviews with anyone in the mentor network as well as eventually computer simulations so they can understand what a particular job function is like without having to spend years in a career to have that experience.

By the year 2050 our dream is to have technology and processes in place where students can get help for their studies, guidance on careers, surveys that identify careers for students based on their personal passions, and virtual experiences in careers without having to experiment themselves in the workforce.

Help everyone who wants a job get exactly the job that makes them happy.

Whom will your project benefit?

  1. High school students - help high school students figure out which school is a great fit for them based on their passions and future goals (even if the goals are uncertain)

  2. College students - help students prepare to build skills and experience early to get internships and subsequently a full time job

  3. Career transitioners - help people see that they do not have to be stuck in the same job for 10 years just because that is all they have done. There are transferrable skills that one can market and new and emerging industries where no one yet has experience in that field. We can help guide people to career paths they did not foresee as possible.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

University of Southern California (confirmed)

University of California at Los Angeles (preliminary discussions)

California Community Colleges Initiative - Doing what Matters For Jobs and the economy (http://doingwhatmatters.cccco.edu/) - (preliminary discussions)

LA Unified School District (preliminary discussions)

How will your project impact the LA2050 “Learn” metrics?

  • Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years
  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)
  • Helping youth define and achieve their career goals and eventually become mentors for their own community

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Through partnerships we’re already beginning to establish with the California Community College system, we will be able to provide the resources necessary to help complete their degree programs, prepare their application to increase transfer rates, or help them find a job after the end of their program.

Youth unemployment will decrease because we have mentors who are helping youth with the skills they currently have limited or no access to, preparation from industry professionals. Young people will be able to better position their resumes, cover letters, and be prepared better for interviews by receiving guidance from people who have already been in their shoes. Through our observation it seems quite a prevalent problem that youth simply do not know how to represent their accomplishments to translate that to a job. By having hiring managers and successful people in their desired field show them how to highlight and best present their skills and abilities youth will have a higher likelihood of receiving the job offer.

We will help alleviate underemployment by helping youth identify the career that best translates their passions, interests, and hobbies. Also we have experienced many situations where recent college graduates are not even aware of potential career paths their degree holds for them, unconventional or even traditional jobs because they do not understand the work environment just yet. Our algorithm and crowdsourced system should help students better understand what careers are out there and how to find the best fit for their future happiness.

By having mentors who have come from similar backgrounds as the students, we can help guide them from every stage of their journey, from high school to college and beyond. We will be there every step of the way from mentors to the social platform to algorithms to suggest recommended career pathways.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

  1. The rate of unemployment and underemployment decreasing among those aged 18-24 in LA are lower

  2. The rate of college admissions for high school students in LA County will go up

  3. Higher level of satisfaction in career reported from students/job seekers. Must create our own survey for this and the results will be more subjective but we can still quantify the feedback to some degree.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

We have a combination of both anecdotal and empirical evidence:

Empirical: -On a small scale we have already helped students get jobs and interviews they were having trouble getting. -Numerous high school students, undergraduates, and professionals have completed forms on our website asking for career and workforce guidance

Anecdotal: -We have approached many parents, students, and mentors from all college, high school, and professional levels and they have expressed deep interest in the product and followed up with us

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

After launching the first prototype 7 weeks ago we have already had a preliminary set of mentoring sessions with kids getting jobs and interviews they had trouble getting. We have solicited and incorporated customer and potential customer feedback and iterated their feedback our development process over 10 times to refine the website to better fit their needs. We already have a product that we just need to continue to build upon and have come a long way in only 7 weeks.

We have spent only $6,000 to get to the point of already helping students and pull in users. We know that with $100,000 we can automate processes allowing us more time to build product awareness, scale the project, and serve more people.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

Scaling the technology solution from present state to future state will require a well thought out technology solution. I plan to overcome this challenge as I feel that the budget of $100,000 is enough to get the right staff and I have the execution timeline setup where this timeline is very plausible.

Educating the market on the necessity of career prep. So far our solution to that is giving presentations and approaching students on college campuses. Partnerships with the school districts and universities will grow awareness more quickly, this starts with administration for high schools, parents, teachers, and student organizations.

By giving career presentations, resume workshops, and calling institutions we have been able to draw in users. Word of mouth is very powerful as well, and we plan on having students bring awareness to their students this way.

What resources does your project need?

  • Network/relationship support
  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Community outreach