The Generation

Alexa Kayman, Lia Fernandez-Grinshpun, Sanjana Moturi, Meghana Nakkanti & Waela Van Nostrand

New York

The Generation is an edtech nonprofit that serves as an opportunity, career and learning platform for students with a mission to combat educational inequity.

Updates from The Generation

June, 2021

Our Story
The Generation was founded on the basis of two ideas:
1. educational equity
2. students and young people have the ability to change the world

Our founder started The Generation's journey in late August of 2020. The original idea for The Generation was to build an online course database taught by Gen Z masters of the subject, a "Masterclass for Teens" if you will. The courses would cover business, AI, medicine amongst a range of complex courses tailored to high school students, ideally giving young people the skills necessary to shorten their learning curve and jump into industries early.

Our founder quickly discovered three issues. First, we did not have a sustainable model to develop the courses to a reasonable quality. Second, sourcing Gen Z'ers who excelled in these industries were either too busy or too rare. Third, and most importantly, this model would never achieve our mission at the time: connecting underserved students to industries they would normally lack access to.

The model eventually adapted to an opportunity platform (mid-September) where we quickly amassed hundreds of early users. Although the demographics of our students broadened, The Generation was still not used by students who needed us the most, our target market: Title 1 and Low-Income students.

The Pivot
Fast forward to May 2021, a $45K software sponsorship and recently Riley's Way Call For Kindness grant, The Generation is now gearing up for a major revamp model with plans to introduce our Career Center.

The Career Center goes beyond the traditional job search platform by including in-depth reflections from relatable professionals under each career. From myth-busting, tips to get ahead of the game, and even diagrams of people's unique journeys, the Career Center will give students deep exposure to careers in a way they would lack unless they had a parent or relative in that industry. The Generation will partner directly with Title 1 schools in NYC and eventually host truly engaging in-person career days. Our job, scholarship, and event features are still on the platform but will be remodeled shortly to better impact our students.

Action Items & OKRs
Facilitate Student-Student Engagement & Learning Opportunities → Boost retention rate as well:
- 45 attendees at the upcoming VC panel
- Host 2 internal networking events, provide networking guides as well
- Host 1 virtual game show for students over Slack

Database of 500+ Opportunities:
- Automate opportunity upload system in order to open postings to students
- Expand student partnerships (especially with CFK organizations)
- Commit to a regular schedule for opportunity blasts

Boost Internal Engagement:
- Publish weekly platform statistics to internal team
- Facilitate quarterly course strategy
- Schedule monthly check-ins
- Organize 3 virtual hangouts

Updates from The Generation

September, 2021
As we re-enter the school year and volunteers’ priorities shift, The Generation is learning to navigate structural changes amidst product development: the Career Center. After 8 summer team members returned to school, The Generation is operating with a core team of 8 - moral still high! We’re on track for an early December Career Center (MVP) launch and releasing rapid updates to our Opportunity Center. In the past 3 months, we’ve made some mistakes along the way (chasing vanity metrics, slow product turnaround and overcomplicated workflows). Because of these mistakes, we’ve learned some valuable lessons. We understand the importance of talking with students even more, accurately quantifying our impact, agile project management and the value of failing fast to learn fast - chasing perfection was the biggest deterrent to impact.

Career Center
For our MVP, we will focus on the most popular careers (Lawyer, Investment Banker, Doctor, Software Engineer, etc) and rising careers (UI/UX Design, freelancing, consulting) since these often carry the most misconceptions. Because the experiences of a doctor, lawyer, consultant and more vary drastically based on company size, location and practice, we’ll rely heavily on professional interviews and reflections.

Unless a relative or close friend is in a prospective career, gaining deep insights about a career can seem impossible until years later. For example, students interested in becoming doctors can find answers to deep questions such as:
- How do you cope with the death of patients?
- How do patient-doctor relations in reality differ from media portrayal?
- What's the real reason you became a doctor?

In addition to deep insights, we will also cover additional skills and misconceptions. For example, many artists who go freelance to avoid corporations, don’t realize the importance of sales, negotiation and finance skills in order to support themselves.

We are running a Fall 2021 (October to December) Career Research Internship. We can’t wait to onboard 8 interns across the US who will help the team organize interviews with professionals, brainstorm deep questions and also collect basic career insights (outlook, average salary, summary, etc).

To The Riley's Way Adults: Send us a quick message if you would like to speak about your career and professional journey!

Based on the comfort level of the interviewee, we will do video or audio interviews or anonymized written answers (we'll still organize an interview without publishing any media or adding a fake name).

To Riley's Way Students: If the Career Center sounds valuable to you, let us know what careers you hear a lot about, some that you’ve felt pressured into and ones that you’re curious about! We’ll be running an ad-hoc volunteer program for students interested in sourcing, interviewing and analyzing professionals’ reflections - great for exploring your own career interests!

Merging Our Products
Students will now be able to sort by industry. Each industry page displays a short summary, related careers and sections from our opportunity database (resources, scholarships, jobs and events). Career cards serve as descriptions of future roles while job cards, which come from the opportunity database, are posted by companies and student organizations looking to hire within that industry.

You can explore this full page at ( Natural access to the industry pages is blocked since it is still under development but you will be able to open the page using the direct link.

Latest Insights
Last week we spoke to 5 students on the platform. We asked about daily stressors, thoughts on their futures and general feedback on the platform. Here’s 3 insights/quotes that heavily resonated with our team:
1. “It feels like people 100% know what they want to do without a doubt, or have no idea at all and have no interest in thinking about their futures. It feels like there is no gray area unlike everything else.”
2. All 5 of our students said they want high school to be “chill and livable. . .things shouldn’t just be about your career yet”
3. All 5 of our students hinted towards a desire for learning outside of school.
Passion-focused skill building but extremely specific.

Insight 3 takes us back to The Generation’s original product (an online course platform). As MooCs (“massive open online courses” like EdX, Coursera and Udemy) become obsolete, with course completion rates under 3% we are not sure how to integrate effective virtual learning. After the launch of the career center, we will be exploring a new phenomenon: CBL - cohort based learning experiences.

Marketing and Partnerships
For the last couple of months, we have discontinued partnerships and marketing. Because the product isn’t ready yet, marketing is unnecessary and would only drive low retention. The strain of youth partnerships during product development would also slow down our development timeline and distract us from our priorities.

Overall, we’re looking forward to the launch of the Career Center and can’t wait to give students an outlet for their passion. We will continue to speak with students, rapidly test and question our impact to ensure we stay on track.