Bengaluru-based CareerLabs, founded by the ex-leadership team of Byju’s is helping students prepare for their professional life beyond college in the post-Covid digital-first world through its profile-building strategy platform. Usually practised by experienced working professionals, the team at CareerLabs is making this strategy accessible to students pursuing their graduate degrees, and guiding them on how to build an organised and well-strategised profile that will catapult them to a higher professional growth trajectory. With its innovative CareerWizard and Profile-Building platforms, CareerLabs has guided more than 200,000 students in the last two years.
“In fact we have launched scholarships worth Rs 2 crore for few of our programmes to help students during these Covid times and this has helped a number of students from tier 2 and tier 3 cities who are coming from economically disadvantaged backgrounds during these challenging times. This has created a huge impact on their lives,” says Prasanna Alagesan, co-founder, CareerLabs.
The main theme of some of the workshops that CareerLabs does with the student community these days revolve around Covid impact on placements and higher education. CareerLabs also conducts panel discussions for training and placement officers with HR and talent acquisition leaders of companies to help them understand the new recruitment norms in Covid times, latest technologies for which freshers are getting recruited and also on how to train students for the new recruitment process.
Take for instance, Dimple, a 21-year-old student of Bharath University, Chennai, who wanted to become an aerospace engineer. CareerLabs team convinced her to pursue a practical internship in virtual design of aerospace components at Kaashiv Infotech, rather than limiting herself to theoretical learning. Despite the pandemic, she upskilled herself by learning structural stress engineering using CATIA V5, and used her new skills to design a 320-seater long range aircraft for her final-year project. Today, she is doing her masters in aerospace engineerring from Arizona State University.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Not all students understand the importance of investing time and effort into building their profile as a way to achieve their goals. CareerLabs’ multi-pronged process of profile-building includes career discovery, which is supported by data insights as well as mentoring sessions tailored to guide the student. This leads to the next stage— skilling— the most crucial aspect of the journey. The skills go beyond theoretical study and allow students to gain hands-on experience on practical projects, internships, and papers, before leading them to the final stage of preparation for recruitment or higher studies.
“The profile building journey is a yearlong journey,” says PN Santosh, co-founder, CareerLabs. “Most of the college students require hand-holding during these Covid times till they get into a good master program or the right career path. This is what the profile building journey is all about (unlike any other upskilling programmes)— help students identify the right path, upskill them, coach them through industry mentors, help them participate in hackathons/ workshops/ internships, provide the finishing touch through our finishing school and finally help them get into dream jobs / masters programmes. We have had great success stories from our cohort of students and it has dramatically increased a lot during these Covid times,” he adds.
Madhuri Ravishankar’s success story is another feather in CareerLabs’ cap. She aspired to study chemical engineering, and went on to choose an undergraduate programme in chemical engineering at SRM University. However, a goal needs a plan and constant guidance. The CareerLabs team’s guidance helped Madhuri in identifying opportunities to work with eminent professors from IIT Madras to sharpen her skills in quality by design and nanotechnology. She went on to publish three research papers, pursued further internships at IIT Madras, and went on to get a good score of 315 on the GRE. Consequently, she has succeeded in securing admission to the University of Pennsylvania and University of California San Diego, and is awaiting a scholarship confirmation from Aga Khan Foundation. All of this was made possible for Madhuri because of the guidance and validation she received from the team of mentors at CareerLabs.
Inspired by the idea of self-reliance and skill development, the team at CareerLabs believes that helping college students to develop their profile would be the most sustainable approach to improving the overall employability of youth in the country. “India’s vision of ‘Make in India’ leading to Aatmanirbhar Bharat can be a reality only if India leverages its demographic dividend. With CareerLabs, we strongly intend to bridge this demand-supply gap and enable one million students to learn and earn better by providing everyone a chance to achieve a successful career, thereby, creating a motivated workforce.” adds Santosh.
The concept of profile-building is a fresh way of approaching placement preparation for students and has been very well-received by students and higher education institutes. In the first year of operations, the 100-member team of CareerLabs reached out to more than one lakh students. Of these, over 30,000 students actively participated in the profile building journey and more than 3000 paid subscribers signed up for the profile building services and courses. The company has clocked more than $1.5 million in revenue since its inception, and is on a mission to enable 1 million students to learn and earn better.
In April, CareerLabs raised $2.2 million in Pre-Series A funding from Rocket Internet’s VC fund Global Founders Capital and other influential angel investors to scale its platform. The startup strives to make its products accessible and affordable to college students all over India, including Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. In the near future, the brand will reach out to more than 1000 colleges, offering more than 600,000 students the opportunity to discover their dream careers through its AI-enhanced career discovery engine, CareerWizard.