PathSource Offers an Innovative Solution to Millennial Unemployment

Facebook co-founder Andrew McCollum tells you what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Homeland and Blood Diamond actor David Harewood advises on handling the anxiety-inducing unpredictability of acting. An English major-turned PhD student in chemistry teaches about her transition to this quantitative field dominated by men.

These fascinating stories belong to a collection of 2,600 video interviews with people in a smorgasbord of industries–from electrician to civil rights attorney to auto mechanic—by a tech startup launching its mobile app this month called PathSource. A free mobile iOS application, PathSource helps users bootstrap through various career paths and match their passions with gainful work.      

With unemployment among young people much higher (8.9% among those ages 18-29) than the general population (5.8%), PathSouce seeks to close this gap even as millions of students are loading up on student debt and graduating without job prospects.

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The PathSource app allows users to take a career assessment test to help them determine what type of career best suits their interests.

“Young adults are getting pummeled in the job market. There’s a very interesting story here about how education and college factors into that,” PathSource CEO Aaron Michel told Opportunity Lives. “Colleges are giving a shockingly bad deal to students by spending billions on expensive residence halls and facilities while keeping the median college career service center budget under $35,000 per year.”

Many college career service centers are “chronically underfunded,” according to Michel, and realize they need better job placement tools. He pointed to data showing there are 859 students per college counselor in America and that more than half of college graduates seeking jobs did not have an offer by graduation.

In addition, some 48% of college graduates are employed in jobs that don’t require a college degree, and Michel said choosing the wrong major can have “a very significant impact on employability and earnings.” He cited the example that architecture majors have a 13.9% unemployment rate while education majors have a 5.4% unemployment rate.

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The app provides useful data on job markets around the country to help users find gainful employment.

“The PathSource app takes young adults, ages 18 to 25, from ‘I don’t have a clue what I want to do’ to ‘I have a job’ and puts it in the palm of their hands,” Michel said.

Michel, a graduate of Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School who previously co-founded the college application company Acceptional, said college career centers, including at Northeastern University and Boston University’s School of Management and the University of Hawaii-Maui, have signed up for PathSource.

The PathSource app features a lifestyle assessment telling users what type of salary they must earn to support their lifestyle and gives localized salary. PathSource has been working with K-12 school districts including Chicago during the past couple of years with its SaaS platform via a paid model. However, it is now entering the college/recent grad market with its free mobile app. The revenue model for the app is based on employers paying for job postings on its job board and based on advertisements focused on helping young adults save money.

Lifestyle assessment

The app’s lifestyle assessments tell users what salary they’ll need to earn based on their lifestyle and job location preferences.

In a pilot at the San Francisco Unified School District, PathSource found that 51% of students who reported they were unsure which occupation they wanted to pursue found a career that excited them after using PathSource between one and two hours, and 93% of students say that they would recommend PathSource to a friend.

The site also features training in “soft skills” like networking, communication and time management. These skills are especially vital for first-generation college attendees and high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have family members working in fields that develop these skills.

“I’m pretty fired up about social entrepreneurship and am deeply engaged in one element of it — the power of connecting education and career paths to take people out of poverty,” Michel said.

The video from actor Harewood gives solid advice that’s unlikely to come from a textbook, serving as a phenomenally successful virtual guide through his unpaid video interviews (all interviewees are unpaid volunteers hoping to serve).

“Honestly, you don’t worry about the good days, because they take care of themselves,” Harewood advises. “But there will be bad days, and there will be trouble ahead, as some say. So I would just caution myself not to be so buffeted by the strange quirks of fate that don’t always go your way.”

Carrie Sheffield is the Senior Writer at Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield.