Landing one of the best tech jobs is becoming increasingly difficult as competition heats up. Even people who have the skills necessary to do a certain job are struggling to find jobs at the company of their dreams—there are too many candidates applying for the best jobs. In order to bridge this gap, one company is looking to support people who already have technological skills, but who are in the process of looking for a job.
Pathrise, which launched in early 2018, has adopted a new model of preparing talented people for the workforce. Rather than training people in the skills they need to get a job, like coding bootcamps, the Pathrise Fellowship teaches students what they need to know about the hiring process. This model, which they refer to as a “career accelerator,” combines both mentorship and training to help young people find jobs at technology companies.
Pathrise is Helping Skilled Workers Succeed
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Coding bootcamps and universities take on the role of educating students in the skills they will encounter in the workforce. However, while some bootcamps provide long-term career support to help graduates find jobs, most universities do not provide comprehensive career counseling. Thus, students can graduate with skills, but little to no knowledge of how to present those skills to employers. That’s where the Pathrise Fellowship comes in.
Pathrise, whose workshops last eight weeks, pairs people with personal mentors who provide them with the support they need to find a job. Students enrolled in the program are partnered with this mentor during week one, and they become the student’s main point of contact throughout the program. These career mentors have been extensively trained in industry recruiting and hiring, or are industry veterans, so they are fully equipped to help students reach their full potential.
Throughout the Pathrise Fellowship, students go through a series of workshops based on topics that may come up throughout the hiring process. For example, students participate in a resume and online profile workshop which helps them craft a resume and online presence that adequately showcases their skills to employers. Students also learn about how to source opportunities, how to thrive in a coding interview and all other key components of the technical hiring process.
Towards the end of the program, students are taught about salary negotiation, which is often one of the most difficult parts of the hiring process. Many people, especially those with experience, are reluctant to ask for more money in job interviews. A survey by staffing firm Robert Half found that only 39 percent of professionals said they tried to negotiate their salary during their last job offer.
During this stage, a mentor will help students negotiate for more money and better benefits, and review each job offer in-depth. This, in turn, helps students figure out what they should demand in a salary negotiation to ultimately get a fair job offer in the end.
This career support is important because students who graduate from a school that does not provide comprehensive technical career support often do not know how to present themselves to a prospective employer. Even students who graduate from a bootcamp that provides career support may want to seek additional help from someone whose sole focus is to help people find a job in technology. In short, the job search is difficult and arduous.
Pathrise has found a gap in the market: there are plenty of skilled technical workers out there, but many of those people do not know how to find a job in tech. Their model appears to be working, as they are serving many different demographics of people: from undergraduates looking for their first job to career advancers with a decade of experience.
Pairing Career Support with Technical Guidance
In addition to providing career strategy support, Pathrise helps students understand the technical side of the hiring process. Indeed, finding jobs, optimizing resumes, and interviewing is common in any job finding process; but engineers—the target market for the company—need to know more. During a technical interview, candidates are expected to showcase their skills in front of other people, and do so in a way they may not have encountered before.
To ensure students don’t get caught off-guard in the technical hiring process, Pathrise provides technical strategy support. Students are paired with both a career mentor who knows about industry recruiting and hiring, as well as an industry mentor, who is an experienced engineer at a top technology company. According to Pathrise, industry mentors include veterans of Google, Dropbox, Amazon, Salesforce, Airbnb, Stripe, and LinkedIn. The industry mentor helps students figure out what topics they need to know to prepare for technical interviews, and shares specific and actionable advice to students.
Furthermore, the industry mentor helps students break down problems they can expect to encounter in an interview—covering topics such as searches, binary trees, and data structures. Technical counsel, like the fellowship itself, continues until fellows land a job. Continuous training ensures that fellows are fully prepared for technical interviewing.
Thus far, Pathrise has launched five different industry tracks to support their students. These tracks cover software engineering, product design, data science, web development, and product strategy and operations—all common careers in the technology industry. These specialized industry tracks ensure that students learn the exact skills they need for their unique career path, which should maximize their chance of success in their job search.
Although the Pathrise program lasts eight weeks, the company continues to provide support and workshops to alumni until they find a job that they are satisfied with. Indeed, Pathrise’s benchmark for personal success is student success: when a student gets hired in a good job, Pathrise concludes their career support. Students can also benefit from weekly live video sessions and an online platform developed by Pathrise, which supports them throughout their tenure as a student in the Pathrise program.
Pay Only When You Succeed with Pathrise
Pathrise offers a financing method similar to a variety of coding bootcamps for the fellowship. Instead of paying upfront, students only pay for the Pathrise course when they are hired, through an Income Share Agreement (ISA). After a fellow has found a job and started working, they will pay nine percent of their first year’s salary over the course of their first six months on the job.
This means that unless students are satisfied with the job they find as a result of Pathrise, after one year they are under no obligation to make payments to the company. This practice aligns with a broader trend in skills development— where students are only interested in paying for a service if it helps them succeed.
Unless Pathrise can help someone find a job, most likely with a salary boost, then the company itself is on the hook for any potential losses. This gives Pathrise “skin in the game,” which encourages them to invest as many resources as necessary to help students find the right job for them.
Many of the people Pathrise is targeting—college students and training program graduates—may have outstanding loans to pay off, which means making an upfront payment is not appropriate. Thus, Pathrise’s ISA also allows the company to support students who may otherwise not be able to afford to hire a company to help them find a job. This gives the Pathrise fellowship a way to stand out amongst other companies in this space.
The nine percent income-share makes sense for the company. According to Pathrise, their support can not only help students find better job opportunities, but their negotiation advice can account for a salary increase of 10 to 20 percent. Thus, students who successfully graduate from the Pathrise fellowship should earn a salary boost that covers the entire cost of their ISA. Pathrise also reports that they place 98 percent of their fellows in a job within one year, and claims to have grown seven times in revenue in the last year.
Pathrise is Scaling Career Mentorship to More Skilled Workers
Pathrise has been able to develop a competitive advantage in a crowded market because they are a network-focused business—companies like OutCo and Interview Kickstart provide similar career support to students. And As students progress through the Pathrise program, they will be able to give Pathrise more data surrounding the hiring process.
Additionally, as students find jobs due to the help they have received from Pathrise, the company will be able to improve its brand among employers. This will, in turn, help them pair future students with high-quality companies. To complete the loop, Pathrise graduates could become hiring managers in the long-term, and hire new Pathrise fellows.
The company also has an advantage because their founders are young—co-founders Kevin Wu and Derrick Mar are 24 and 25, respectively—and so they have first-hand experience of the intricacies of the current technology hiring market.
The company is going after a big market: tens of thousands of people graduate from bootcamps and computer science degrees every year. Pathrise also reports that there are over 1.4 million white-collar workers in their early 20s who are looking to switch jobs: a request which they aim to support. Pathrise recently announced they have increased the size of their seed round to $3.2 million, which is expected to help them hire more mentors, invest in research and development, and expand their career tracks offered to students.
The Pathrise fellowship has the potential to change the way that people in technology find jobs and is positioned to expand their services to other career tracks in technology. Their career and technical support model also allows them to set themselves aside from more generic career support firms, who may not be aware of the subtleties of the technology hiring process. The network effects the business is trying to cultivate will also allow them to develop a compounding competitive advantage at scale, placing them in a good position to provide mentorship to even more people in tech in the future.
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