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Gladeo’s SXSW EDU Presentation: Inclusive Outcomes-Based Virtual Career Navigation

This month at Austin's SXSW EDU event, Gladeo co-founder and Head of Product Grace Cho participated in the How ESSA Is Driving Improved K-12 Outcomes workshop, joined by fellow EdTech leaders and moderated by LearnPlatform’s Karl Rectanus.

Together with fellow EdTech innovators Reading Horizons, Varsity Tutors, and VoiceThread, we discussed “insights about leveraging research to improve implementations,” as well as informing product plans and meeting strict federal ESSA requirements.

Moderated by LearnPlatform’s co-founder Karl Rectanus and featuring Jennifer Larson, US Program Leader of AWS EdStart, the How ESSA Is Driving Improved K-12 Outcomes workshop was an incredible experience and we invite everyone to check out the captured audio discussion!

During the workshop, Grace gave our Inclusive Outcomes-Based Virtual Career Navigation presentation. In it, she explained how, while most career platforms only factor in personality and skills, Gladeo draws on modern research and utilizes multiple factors so our platform can offer far broader resources related to career choices and career success for students, graduates, and job-seekers!

Below are a few excerpts from Grace’s talk in which she also discussed the origins of the company and gave an overview of the purpose and features our mobile-friendly platform which comes in customizable, region-based versions.

“[We] started Gladeo because, growing up as children of immigrants in Houston, Texas who loved movies, we had this vague dream of wanting to work in the entertainment industry,” Grace said. “But we didn't have a single connection! We got to [Los Angeles] and did over a hundred informational interviews to get an idea of what we might pursue in the field. We eventually started volunteering with students and it struck us—the inequity of career days and the representation of the careers that you saw at different schools. We thought, in this day and age of media, online video, and digital platforms, that shouldn't be the case. So we set out to change that!

More About SXSW EDU

Pronounced South by Southwest E-D-U, SXSW EDU is “an annual event that fosters innovation and learning within the education industry.” The core belief behind the conference and festival is “that education has the power to inspire, elevate, and change the future,” and the goal is to “bring together the learner, the practitioner, the entrepreneur, and the visionary to share their groundbreaking stories, tackle complex issues, and build reimagined paths forward.”

“[Gladeo] is an inclusive, outcomes-based, virtual career navigation platform that uses video storytelling, informational interviews, career profiles built from those interviews, program finders, and a personalized resource newsfeed to enable students to get connections to all the workplace learning and internship opportunities that might help them along their path,” she said.

Gladeo's career navigation platforms are specially designed to address challenging barriers that individuals face when starting and pursuing their unique career journeys. Our unique career development interventions utilize cutting-edge, research-based methods to inform our content. We introduce uses to relatable career role models, and help raise and expand internal domains of self-efficacy beliefs. This helps to increase persistence, resilience, and motivation within our platform users, helping drive their personal goal achievement!

Grace continued, “We also created research-based career exploration courses that are integrated into our platform. About the research—if you look at traditional online career navigation, the interventions mostly sit at the intersection of personality assessment skills, and perhaps labor market data, which are all very important things. And our tool also incorporates those. But when students use these tools that are focused solely on data, it can feel a little cold and impersonal. That’s because, when we all choose our careers, was it really just a matter of data in your head? Or was it also a matter of the heart?

“Gladeo takes a much more human-centered approach to career development, because we know that in addition to being a practical and economic decision, career choice also touches on questions of things like identity, purpose and priorities, security, and even circumstance. If you look at the leading research in the career development field, it confirms this complexity.”

Grace also discussed the critical intersection between students’ personality characteristics, their physical and mental abilities, and how Gladeo’s online career navigation site meets them at the juncture where these attributes converge. Additional factors that the platform’s content is tailored to consider include student socioeconomic factors, race and gender identifications, geographic locations, social capital, and live events—all of which shape learners’ unique needs as they explore career options.

“Our intervention is designed based on learnings from leading research frameworks, including social cognitive career theory, the motivational theory of role modeling, social-emotional learning, and culturally responsive teaching. We’re continuously looking at new research to see how we can improve.”

Gladeo was thrilled to engage with the passionate SXSW EDU community in Austin, TX, and can’t wait to return for more!

Grace used Social Cognitive Career Theory, or SCCT, as an example. “Career choice and success are mostly built from the building blocks of self-efficacy, beliefs, outcome expectations, and goal setting. If you dig deeper, what kinds of things influence those things? Things like social persuasion and vicarious learning affect those things. Vicarious learning is if you see someone similar to you doing something that you can’t currently do, it can help you believe that you can do that, too!

“Correlate that with how people come from different backgrounds—different demographics, socio-economics, races, genders, social [circumstances], locations, etc. [For instance], do you come from a rural place? Do you live in an urban place where you see lots of different careers? All those things can affect your ability to interact with those key building blocks of career development.

“So what Gladeo does is we look at all of that. We look at the intersection of how people’s different demographics affect their ability to build the building blocks of career development, and we incorporate that into how we design and distribute our tool and how we work with schools,” Grace said.

“We’ve taken the research and applied it to an actual intervention and strategy within our tool and virtual career days. We build inclusive videos of people…sharing very authentic stories of their background, whether they’re the first in their family to go to college, what it was like for them to arrive at a college campus and be the only one who maybe didn’t have parents who went to college. Sharing really authentic stories is key for them to be able to be effective role models for young people who may also have come from that background.

“We also have built digital informational interviews, because…a lot of people talk about social capital in terms of relationships. But social capital also includes the cognitive—kind of shared story and shared narrative. Whenever you’re starting a new career, everyone always says get an informational interview! But they forget that a lot of kids don’t have access to that. We’re trying to break down those barriers.”

She explained how Gladeo’s Virtual Career Days and Digital Informational Interviews allow students to receive vicarious experiences, feel the power of social persuasion, understand the perceived value of goals, and manage outcome expectations. Lastly, she touched on Gladeo’s exciting ESSA Level IV certified, self-directed career exploration courses (with optional teacher-led activities and assignments), such as the insightful Introduction to Career Development and the ever-popular Arts & Media Entertainment Course.

To hear Grace’s full remarks, check out the entire recorded audio of the session here!

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