Prepped: Helping students launch their careers | RBC Ventures

Prepped: Helping students launch their careers

As venture lead for Prepped, Meg McQuillan leads a team responsible for helping students and recent grads navigate their job-search and launch their careers. We sat down with Meg to hear about her experience job searching and how Prepped is helping Canadians improve their chances of landing a job.

1. Tell us about your experience when you searched for your first job. What challenges did you face and how have things changed?

My job-search coming out of undergrad was a challenge to say the least. I was a bundle of nerves and totally unsure that I was approaching the process in the right way, but terrified to ask for help. I was aware that my immediate network (i.e. my parents) were not in a position to give me the best advice, given how long it had been since they had been in my position.

I remember feeling like everyone around me had figured it out: professional networks, a specific career goal, and a well-charted path from what they studied into their first job.

Having come through the other side of that experience, I came to realize how universal these feelings are. In some ways, a lot has changed since I graduated from university - for context, I created a LinkedIn profile a month after graduating from undergrad.

That being said, I know from speaking to post-secondary students that the experience around landing a job in your field has remained, in many ways, remarkably unchanged. There is a ton of uncertainty, a significant feedback gap and a general sense that a lot is out of your control as a student applicant. The fact that so little around the experience of career launch has changed in the last 10 years really highlighted for our team at Prepped, the opportunity to provide young people with more support making the transition from school to work.

2. How does Prepped help improve the experience of career launch?

Prepped uses technology grounded in science to help empower post-secondary students to navigate their job search more effectively.

The Prepped platform has tools that make it simple to plan, prepare, practice and get feedback as their job-search progresses - no appointment necessary. From identifying their career vision and creating an elevator pitch, to tailoring their resume to the role and preparing for the interview, Prepped has custom job search plans, training modules, and instant feedback tools that students need to put their best foot forward.

3. What do you think the biggest changes to the student job market have been over the past 12-18 months? Are there any interesting trends you’re seeing?

The last year and a half has been a roller coaster on the job prospect front for students and recent grads, to say the least.

In spring 2020, the situation was fairly grim: Stats Canada reported that more than one third of students had a work placement cancelled or delayed and 67% of students were very or extremely concerned about having no job prospects in the future.

In 2021, there has been a recovery in the youth employment rate overall, yet summer employment rates for returning students aged 20 to 24 are still down compared to 2019.

Over the last 18 months, we’ve experienced a spike in demand for digital career support tools and resources, specifically from post-secondary students across Canada. They are looking for additional support evaluating their skills, reviewing their resumes, preparing for their interviews and, of course, finding job postings that are at the right level of experience and in fields related to their studies.

We’ve also observed that post-secondary institutions are looking for solutions to help them scale their career support offerings, and deliver tailored and highly engaging experiences for students entering the post-pandemic job environment.

4. How has Prepped evolved this year?

Prepped has always offered great tools to support students with the job search components that are most critical to landing a role: defining a goal, building your brand, doing research, and leveraging your network. This year, to help students actively applying for roles to move beyond a “spray and pray” strategy, we launched two new Premium features that provide them with immediate feedback.

Our Resume Scanner helps students tailor their resume to each job they apply to, and maximize their chances of landing an interview. Our Interview Prep tool lets students practice answering behavioral questions and build confidence through immediate feedback on pacing, use of filler words, and energy. Over 50% of Canadian students who use Prepped have come to us seeking support across these two steps of the application journey, so we’re excited to be offering new value to students.

5. What’s next for Prepped?
Our goal continues to be arming students with the confidence they’ll need to enter the workforce, and to remove as much friction for them and the people who support them on that journey. Over the next year, we’ll be focused on delivering new value propositions to students seeking to build experience in their fields of study in order to launch their careers. We’ll also be expanding partnerships with higher education and recruitment channels so that Prepped can help support more students when they need it most.

If you’re a prospective job seeker interested in resume prep, a recruitment specialist, or interested in joining the Prepped team, please visit our website to find out more.

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Mike Dobbins