August 21, 2023 | By Kevin Gray
TAGS: technology, best practices, student attitudes, nace insights, career development, nace award winner
At the start of the pandemic, the career services office at Parkland College needed to move its career assessment tool—which had been done by pencil—to a virtual tool that was easily accessible for students.
Not only was PathwayU by PeopleGrove available to students 24/7, but it also offers guidance based on predictive knowledge that accounts for the user’s sense of purpose and meaning.
According to Eric Leftwich, co-creator of PathwayU, the platform empowers each learner with tools for self-discovery, career exploration, education mapping, and employment connections.
“Typical career assessments are too static and didn’t answer the question, ‘Now what?’ for anybody,” Leftwich says.
“While important, generally career assessments simply provide a label. We formed the company because we wanted to incorporate a guidance mechanism.”
PathwayU has three components:
“We include the self-discovery or career assessment, but we also developed an algorithm to connect the learner to a vocational, career, or job pathway where they would find their deepest sense of purpose and meaning,” Leftwich explains.
“We hold two patents on our predictive algorithm. They connect the learner with their best education-to-career journey. This ensures that each learner knows there’s a vocational life where they will be fulfilled and find it very meaningful. And isn’t that the goal of a good education?”
Parkland career services implemented PathwayU into the services it offers to assist undecided students, alumni, and career changers to find their way during their educational and career journey.
Parkland uses PathwayU to market, recruit, retain, advise, and meet its student engagement goals.
Between 2020 and 2022, 639 students, staff, and community members took the assessment. Staff found little to no barriers for those wishing to use the platform because there is no code, it is free, and users may use any email address that they would like, not necessarily an institutional-assigned email address.
The career center at Bethany Lutheran College uses PathwayU to help students to identify their personality strengths and apply them in practical ways to maximize vocational direction. It also assists students in the interview process to showcase their strengths in a meaningful way. Staff use PathwayU with prospective and current students and alumni at all career development levels.
Like Parkland, Bethany Lutheran wanted to engage as many students as possible to access and understand the platform. To do so, it presented PathwayU in seminar courses from first year through senior year that are taken by all students.
Today’s students want to know the return on investment of their educational dollars, Leftwich points out. He calls PathwayU an “education-to-career compass.”
“Students want to know that they picked the right major early and are not wasting their time and money,” Leftwich says.
“Adding to the value is that PathwayU is available to students throughout their lives after college as long as their school still offers it. The unique methodology guides each user to pathways that will fulfill their sense of purpose and meaning while both in education and career.”
Percent of institutions that offer stipends for low- or underpaid internships
Percent of institutions that collect demographic usage data
Percent of institutions that have implemented career readiness competencies institution-wide
Percent of career centers experiencing a change in reporting structure over the past year
2022-23 Career Services Benchmarks Report