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Weekly Trend: Professional Development Is Getting a Makeover

While job prospects for soon-to-be-graduates are much better than they were in the late 2000s, students and recent graduates often struggle to decide what kind of career they want to pursue—and how to break into any given industry. In other words, despite the marginally improved economy, Millennials continue to struggle with employment.

As a result, professional development is a hot topic among edtech startups. With an ever-increasing pool of young college grads looking for jobs, as well as older professionals looking to further their learning within the office setting, edtech startups have the opportunity to provide new and unique interfaces that will enable these people to connect with companies and others professionals, create and maintain professional profiles and to better understand their strengths and weaknesses as they relate to certain professions.

But how do these startups do it?

Many startups focus on using data analytics to develop software that personalizes the professional development experience for each individual. For example, Amplify recently created a new tool called “Professional Learning Maps,” to specifically help teachers improve their data skills. Amplify plans to expand this software to include development opportunities for teacher-parent communication and math instruction as well.

Another company focused on professional development—and currently a member of 1776—is Interfolio. This tech startup focuses on providing support for professionals at any and every stage of professional development. Providing a platform that simultaneously serves job hunters and those seeking to fill positions, Interfolio creates a space in which professionals searching to further their careers can thrive. Similarly, Exec Online focuses on bringing learning to the office and enables executives to utilize technology and data in order to better develop future leaders.

These are all examples of startups focused on the development of professionals who may already be immersed in a specific career path. However, many edtech companies are looking toward college juniors and seniors, as well as recent graduates, as the target base for their new technology.

Pymetrics for example uses “proven neuroscience and big data” to develop games that upon completion provide the player with insight into their personal characteristics and traits as well as potential career paths. Similar to a dating site, Pymetrics tells the participant how compatible they are with jobs in different industries given their results.

Several members of 1776 also are focusing on recent college graduates as they develop new platforms. More than Money Careers and YouFolio both focus on young Millennials who are doing their best to attract employers and discover a favorable job for their post-graduate life.

These startups are enabling professionals to connect and communicate with other professionals and industry leaders from their current office, home or anywhere in between. By bringing learning online, these startups are allowing professionals to further enhance specific skills through exercises, games and lessons. For recent graduates, professional development no longer involves printing and mailing countless resumes to potential employers but rather creating profiles and logging on to these innovative platforms.

All of these startups illustrate how exploring job opportunities and making connections is now perhaps easier in the virtual world than it is in the physical world. Furthering your career path is now more convenient and accessible, as almost all of these startups’ platforms are just a click away once you are online. From games and quizzes to exercises and tutorials, edtech startups are creating new and innovative ways to help seasoned professionals as well as young graduates further their professional development.

Carolyn Peyser

Carolyn is a senior at Tufts University majoring in Sociology and minoring in Communications and Media Studies.