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Exploring Gladeo’s FutureReady K12 Career Development Program with CEO Michelle Cho

Technology is rapidly altering the workforce landscape, and the pace is only going to pick up in the years to come. For K-12 educators to effectively prepare today’s students for tomorrow's careers, they’ll have to keep up somehow.

Gladeo’s co-founder and CEO Michelle Cho knows how daunting a challenge that is becoming. To help tackle the challenge head-on, Gladeo recently launched its new FutureReady K12 Career Development Program!

Michelle recently sat down for an interview to discuss the FutureReady program and share details about its features and benefits.

An Interview with Gladeo CEO Michelle Cho

Matt: Gladeo really is “on the go” these days! Now you’re introducing the FutureReady K12 Career Development Program. Can you tell us what that is, exactly?

Michelle: Of course! FutureReady is a comprehensive, step-by-step program designed mainly for K-12 schools—in particular middle and high school students and teachers. However, it can also be configured to benefit adult schools, community colleges, nonprofits, and other institutions in many cases.

The program is virtual, so it can be completed online, and features a range of engaging, research-based, on-demand video learning modules, pre-surveys and post-surveys, reflections, and fun quizzes. These are accompanied by supplemental digital tools available on our career navigation platforms.

Matt: You say it’s engaging and fun. How has Gladeo managed to pull that off in a career development program?

Michelle: Actually we start with that in mind. This course, like all of our content and, really, our work in general, is carefully and purposefully designed to be inclusive and engaging! We know our audience and we tailor content to appeal to them.

That said, the whole program is deeply rooted in scientific research. But the end user doesn’t see that aspect of it. The objective was to create a unique environment for students, an environment where their “desire becomes pursuit,” as I like to put it.

Matt: “Desire becomes pursuit.” Can you talk more about that?

Michelle: Absolutely, Matt. When we say “Desire becomes pursuit,” we're referencing the transformation from mere wanting or wishing for something to actively working towards it. It’s not just about having the motivation or the dream; it’s about channeling that energy into actionable steps.

Our program is grounded in research-based methods that emphasize building self-awareness, fostering a positive self-concept, and enhancing self-efficacy. These foundational psychological constructs serve as pillars to not just motivate, but also sustain that motivation, even when faced with obstacles.

We've integrated a unique element into our program—vicarious learning through representative video storytelling. By showcasing underrepresented learners who have journeyed through similar challenges, we allow our students to see individuals they can relate to, helping them envision themselves in roles or paths they might not have previously considered. This not only boosts their self-concept but also expands their horizon of what’s achievable.

In essence, while motivation can be compared to the spark or the initial desire, volition represents the continuous flame that keeps us moving, even when the initial spark wanes. It’s the conscious decision and effort to keep pushing, to stay committed. It’s the difference between saying, “I hope to one day become X” and declaring, “Today, I am taking specific steps to become X.”

Our FutureReady program is designed to provide clarity on educational pathways that lead to sustainable careers. By illuminating these paths, we also elevate outcome expectations, ensuring that our students don’t just dream, but pursue those dreams with a clear vision and plan.

Matt: Can we get more into the weeds about that?

Michelle: Sure! Our FutureReady program is meticulously designed, leveraging an asynchronous video instruction model to guide students through crucial lessons. The curriculum is structured into distinct parts and chapters that cover a range of relevant topics.

Part 1 of the curriculum focuses on “Building Self Awareness” and “Building Resilience and Perseverance,” diving deep into videos, lessons, and activities that foster positive self-concept and address the often overlooked psychological barriers that students, especially those from underserved or underrepresented backgrounds, face when embarking on their career journeys.

Part 2 of the program covers the “Foundations of Postsecondary Readiness,” including “College Readiness” and training opportunities as well as “Skills and Lifelong Learning.” It’s a roadmap for students to navigate the often daunting transition from school to higher education or vocational training.

Then we move into Part 3, “Foundations of Career Readiness,” where students are introduced to practical steps for their professional journey. Chapters here encompass themes like “Getting Experience” and “Marketing Yourself” which break down essentials such as resume crafting, cover letter writing, mastering LinkedIn, and more. Then the course delves into how AI is changing the working world, AI Literacy, and how to use AI for career development, ensuring that every student understands how to harness the power of AI and other technologies, making them not just participants but competitive players in the evolving job market.

We also have chapters that cover “Networking and Interview Preparation,” topics that are both vital but often overlooked. Take networking. Building social capital is extremely important and so many students struggle with this aspect of career building.

By the way, each chapter features an introduction so learners can quickly familiarize themselves with the chapter’s goals. Each chapter also contains reflections and knowledge checks to ensure that students are meaningfully engaging with the material. These are aligned with the American School Counselor Association or ASCA standards.

Matt: What are ASCA standards? Can you explain more about that?

Michelle: In the context of education, standards are a set of guidelines or criteria that are established to ensure consistency, quality, and a benchmark for what students should know and be able to do. The ASCA National Standards for Student Success emphasize the holistic development of students, preparing them not just academically, but also in areas of career and social/emotional growth.

For schools in California, we have also integrated the CA Department of Education’s CTE Standards for Career Ready Practice, which focus on the knowledge and skills students need to be prepared for the challenges of a dynamic, global workplace.

What sets our program apart is that we not only align with these standards, we also provide tools for educators and administrators to track engagement, progress, and performance reporting. This means that they can see, in real-time, how much time their students are spending on each standard and how students are performing against each standard. By tying our program to state and nationally recognized standards and offering detailed tracking, we aim to provide an unparalleled level of clarity and support to educators, ensuring that students are best prepared for their future endeavors.

Matt: I wanted to go back to networking. Do you think networking is still that important in this digital era, where jobs are posted online?

Michelle: Absolutely, Matt. Even in our digital age, the significance of personal connections can’t be understated. The former CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner, once highlighted the power of referrals by noting that a referral on LinkedIn improves the chances of a job seeker landing a position by a staggering 9x!

Their research also showed stark disparities based on one’s socio-economic background, college attended, and initial career choices. They even showed how a member from an affluent zip code was three times more likely to have a robust network compared to someone from a less affluent area.

This is where Gladeo’s program comes into play. Recognizing this disparity, our prime focus is on equipping individuals with vital networking skills: teaching students how to initiate and conduct effective informational interviews, how to effectively build and nurture their network, and how to excel in job interviews. We’re striving to bridge the gap, ensuring that every individual, regardless of their background, has a fair shot at leveraging connections for career advancement.

Matt: It sounds like there’s a lot of emphasis on AI in the program.

Michelle: Indeed, our program is tailored to nurture skills that prepare students for the future. Given AI's transformative role in today’s world and its potential for continued impact, it naturally takes center stage in our curriculum. We believe in equipping our students to not just understand but also leverage AI’s capabilities in their respective fields.

After the first three sections of the program, we keep going into Part 4—a video overview section that covers all the major Career and Technical Education clusters, or sectors, and the individual career pathways within.

Matt: Can you give an example of these Career and Technical Education sector videos?

Michelle: Sure, so first off, California recognizes and has categorized fifteen broad CTE sectors. For example, Agriculture and Natural Resources is a sector. Building and Construction Trades is a sector. There are also things like Engineering and Architecture, Fashion and Interior Design, Health Science and Medical Technology, and so on.

Under each CTE sector, it breaks down into career pathways. For instance, the Agriculture and Natural Resources sector has seven career pathways under it: Agricultural Business, Agricultural Mechanics, Animal Science, and so on. And of course, under these pathways, there are specific job titles. Under the Agricultural Business pathway, you’ve got job titles like Agricultural Credit Manager, Agriculture Inspector, Farm and Ranch Manager, things like that.

So within the FutureReady program, each CTE sector has its own easy-to-follow video that broadly explains what the sector is, why it’s important, and what careers fall under it. The videos also review what types of people tend to be interested in each sector, and which common skills are needed, before diving more in-depthly into the career pathways. I say “in-depthly,” but every sector video is roughly ten minutes or less, in total. We keep it concise. We also just completed learning modules for all 16 National CTE sectors so we can serve our partners nationwide.

In middle and early high school, students are encouraged to choose a CTE sector in many public schools across the country, but how are they supposed to know which sector to choose? We provide these overview chapters so students can learn about all of them before making that choice.

Matt: And how do educators and learners access the FutureReady program?

Michelle: The FutureReady program seamlessly integrates into various Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Canvas, Blackboard, Schoology, Google Classroom, and others. Institutions can effortlessly sync with our platform, or individuals can register directly on our online system using a registration code.

Thanks to features like single sign-on and auto-rostering, the user experience is streamlined. Teachers and school administrators can easily track engagement, access standards reporting, review quiz responses, and assign activities. Furthermore, several lessons connect students directly to our career exploration platform. One of the lessons directs learners to take our popular Gladeo Quiz!

Matt: Oh yes, the Gladeo Quiz! Can you touch on that briefly, for those who aren’t familiar with it?

Michelle: The quiz is a short and fun exercise that analyzes quiz takers’ responses and then determines their predominant personality types.

Matt: So it’s a personality test?

Michelle: Essentially, but it is geared toward helping students discover their personality types in order to better match them to career fields they’d be interested in. The personality types themselves are drawn from the Holland Occupational Themes (aka the “Holland Codes”) developed by psychologist John Holland.

He believed that one’s “choice of a career is an expression of personality.” We agree. We think people work best in careers that match their personality types, so we created a quiz to help students discover theirs. This solves a huge problem for students who struggle to find themselves or understand how they fit in. The quiz offers a window for them to learn a bit more about who they are and what they might excel in, as far as careers go.

We interpret Holland’s personality types as follows: the Builder (who is realistic), the Problem Solver (who is investigative), the Creator (who is artistic), the People Person (who is social), the Persuader (who is enterprising), and the Organizer (who is conventional). Of course, everyone possesses traits from more than one personality type, so the quiz shows the quiz taker’s top three personality types and ranks each with a percentage score (i.e., 36% Organizer, 20% Creator, 16% Builder).

Next, the platform uses this information to instantly match students with several industry and career options that might align with their interests and aptitudes. They can then browse through these options and explore career profiles on our platform.

Matt: When do educators use FutureReady?

Michelle: Schools are busier than ever. We know that. We don’t just throw the tools and materials at them; we work closely with LEA staff to provide full support and make sure the program fits into the schedule and is helping educators, not simply making more work for them.

We partner up to find ways to integrate FutureReady into the school day. Sometimes that means utilizing the time during a learners’ advisory period which may run about 15-20 minutes. Some districts may call this time “social and emotional learning” or SEL. It’s just time in the learner’s day when they can work on other things besides their normal academics. But we’re always open to new ideas of where we can integrate it into the school day. Early mornings, after school, whenever works!

Matt: We talked about FutureReady’s chapter topics. Let’s talk about learning objectives.

Michelle: One of the critical components of this course is the Pre- and Post-Tests that students take. This helps us continually assess the efficacy of the project. In addition to these, yes, we have six specific learning outcomes.

Broadly speaking, these cover students being able to investigate career opportunities that match their personality strengths and interests, acquiring relevant career information they can use to achieve their goals, and understanding how both postsecondary education and lifelong learning are needed to succeed. Other outcomes include building self-efficacy and gaining both college and career readiness skills.

At the end of the course, each student receives an Individual Career Exploration and Readiness Portfolio. This customized portfolio includes details about their personality types, careers they may be interested in, and insights they shared via personal reflection activities. It also outlines their passions and the causes and issues they care about—all of which can help them make informed decisions about their careers and any education and training they want to pursue.

Matt: Where can institutions learn more about Gladeo’s FutureReady K12 Career Development Program?

Michelle: We make as much information available as possible online! Interested partners should contact us for a demo!

Matt: Thanks for sharing this exciting information about FutureReady!

Michelle: Thank you, too.


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