Creating an equal opportunity to succeed by mentorship from someone that has the career you want

submission by EddieThePrepSource
Creating an equal opportunity to succeed by mentorship from someone that has the career you want

About Your Organization

Organization name(s):

The Prep Source

Organization website:

Organization Twitter handle:

Organization Facebook page:

Organization Instagram:

Describe your organization (check only one):

Nonprofit organization

For-profit organization



Please describe yourself (check only one):

Solo actor (just us on this project!)

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

Collaboration (partners are signed up and ready to hit the ground running!)

In one sentence, please describe what your organization does.


Online marketplace bringing together students/job seekers with mentors who already have the career they want.

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.


Giving everyone who wants to better themselves a fair chance and an equal opportunity to succeed from high school and beyond.

Please write a sample tweet to describe your submission.


We at @ThePrepSource are creating a marketplace for students to connect with mentors who have the job they want! #Mentoring

Does your project impact Los Angeles County? Check only one.

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Yes (benefits a region of LA County)

Yes (benefits a population of LA County)


Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit? Check all that apply.

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay



What is your idea/project in more detail?


The Prep Source is an Online Marketplace connecting job seekers and higher education applicants with mentors who already have the career or attend the school applicant wants.

Mentors will come from all industries including finance, technology, entertainment, accounting, consulting, law, medicine, consumer products, etc. Many mentors come from USC and UCLA. Job functions are typically software development, marketing, finance, accounting.

Highly specific preparation is required to get into the college or job of your dreams and we provide preparation from someone who has already gone through the exact same process to provide as precise information as possible to best position the candidate for the career of their dreams.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?


We have already started implementing the project on a small scale by completing the first release of the website.

Currently the website has grown to 50 mentors and with the $100,000 we can scale much more quickly by adding dedicated technology resources and incorporating the students themselves in the growth process.

The methodology used to implement the project will be the same technology product management/project management I learned from my prior career experience. For example, I follow the same project management techniques I learned at Goldman Sachs, the marketing experience I used when at Adobe, and user adoption/strategy from Live Nation/Ticketmaster.

I have extensive experience in leadership functions and was the Class President of the USC MBA Program in 2011.

More importantly, to gain mass adoption across college, community college, and high school campuses you will have to get buy-in and understand the perspective of users. In many previous jobs I have assembled teams of interns and helped them use their problem solving skills to take ownership of the product and building out the strategy within their own schools. After all they themselves are the target demographic, they will just need guidance and feedback as I let them take on a leadership role themselves.

Gather the feedback of students and have them lead the deployment within their own communities and help them learn the business aspects by observing and guiding them throughout this process.

Work with administration in universities, community colleges, and high schools to launch the product on a large scale. Continue to network with outside parties at education conferences to identify other means of deploying and gaining exposure for hte product.

Work directly with leadership in student organizations to have them promote and reach out to the constituents to promote the product and get their feedback as well to refine the product.

Work with teachers and professors to launch the product to their students as well as gain feedback from them regarding the product.



Today our project will help students will be able to identify and define career paths that they did not even know exist and jobs in industries that are growing rapidly (renewables, etc.). Students will be able to look for jobs they did not originally believe to be in their career path, they can experiment with different careers without spending years deciding whether or not they will like them, thus decreasing employee turnover. The medium in which we employ to help students throughout this path will incorporate social elements and gamification concepts to keep it interesting for those with the lower attention span. General advancement of skill sets directly related to these jobs would be great as well since the mentors will also be generating webinars, slideshows, and other content for students to learn from.

Underemployment will decrease as the students are better able to market their skills and abilities to employers so that they can best use the skills that they developed attaining their college degree. Much of the reason for underemployment is students not being aware of how to translate their skills into the workforce.

Students will be able to determine whether this career is a good fit for them through information interviews with anyone in the mentor network as well as eventually computer simulations so they can understand what a particular job function is like without having to spend years in a career to have that experience.

By the year 2050 our dream is to have technology and processes in place where students can get help for their studies, guidance on careers, surveys that identify careers for students based on their personal passions, and virtual experiences in careers without having to experiment themselves in the workforce.

Help everyone who wants a job get exactly the job that makes them happy.

Whom will your project benefit? Please be specific.


1. High school students - help high school students figure out which school is a great fit for them based on their passions and future goals (even if the goals are uncertain)

2. College students - help students prepare to build skills and experience early to get internships and subsequently a full time job

3. Career transitioners - help people see that they do not have to be stuck in the same job for 10 years just because that is all they have done. There are transferrable skills that one can market and new and emerging industries where no one yet has experience in that field. We can help guide people to career paths they did not foresee as possible.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.


University of Southern California (confirmed)

University of California at Los Angeles (preliminary discussions)

California Community Colleges Initiative - Doing what Matters For Jobs and the economy ( - (preliminary discussions)

LA Unified School District (preliminary discussions)

How will your project impact the LA2050 "LEARN" metrics?

Percentage of children enrolled in early education programs

Percentage of community college students completing a certificate, degree, or transfer-related program in six years

Youth unemployment and underemployment

District-wide graduation rates

HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math

Academic Performance Index scores

College matriculation rates

Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher education institutions, and the workforce) (Dream Metric)

Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)

Truancy rates in elementary and middle school (Dream Metric)

Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)


If other, please specify.:

Helping youth define and achieve their career goals and eventually become mentors for their own community

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.:

Through partnerships we're already beginning to establish with the California Community College system, we will be able to provide the resources necessary to help complete their degree programs, prepare their application to increase transfer rates, or help them find a job after the end of their program.

Youth unemployment will decrease because we have mentors who are helping youth with the skills they currently have limited or no access to, preparation from industry professionals. Young people will be able to better position their resumes, cover letters, and be prepared better for interviews by receiving guidance from people who have already been in their shoes. Through our observation it seems quite a prevalent problem that youth simply do not know how to represent their accomplishments to translate that to a job. By having hiring managers and successful people in their desired field show them how to highlight and best present their skills and abilities youth will have a higher likelihood of receiving the job offer.

We will help alleviate underemployment by helping youth identify the career that best translates their passions, interests, and hobbies. Also we have experienced many situations where recent college graduates are not even aware of potential career paths their degree holds for them, unconventional or even traditional jobs because they do not understand the work environment just yet. Our algorithm and crowdsourced system should help students better understand what careers are out there and how to find the best fit for their future happiness.

By having mentors who have come from similar backgrounds as the students, we can help guide them from every stage of their journey, from high school to college and beyond. We will be there every step of the way from mentors to the social platform to algorithms to suggest recommended career pathways.

Please select which other LA2050 Goals are relevant to your project or organization (check all that apply):

LA is the best place to CONNECT

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.


1. The rate of unemployment and underemployment decreasing among those aged 18-24 in LA are lower

2. The rate of college admissions for high school students in LA County will go up

3. Higher level of satisfaction in career reported from students/job seekers. Must create our own survey for this and the results will be more subjective but we can still quantify the feedback to some degree.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?


We have a combination of both anecdotal and empirical evidence:

-On a small scale we have already helped students get jobs and interviews they were having trouble getting.
-Numerous high school students, undergraduates, and professionals have completed forms on our website asking for career and workforce guidance

-We have approached many parents, students, and mentors from all college, high school, and professional levels and they have expressed deep interest in the product and followed up with us

Explain how implementing your project in the next twelve months is an achievable goal.


After launching the first prototype 7 weeks ago we have already had a preliminary set of mentoring sessions with kids getting jobs and interviews they had trouble getting. We have solicited and incorporated customer and potential customer feedback and iterated their feedback our development process over 10 times to refine the website to better fit their needs. We already have a product that we just need to continue to build upon and have come a long way in only 7 weeks.

We have spent only $6,000 to get to the point of already helping students and pull in users. We know that with $100,000 we can automate processes allowing us more time to build product awareness, scale the project, and serve more people.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?


Scaling the technology solution from present state to future state will require a well thought out technology solution. I plan to overcome this challenge as I feel that the budget of $100,000 is enough to get the right staff and I have the execution timeline setup where this timeline is very plausible.

Educating the market on the necessity of career prep. So far our solution to that is giving presentations and approaching students on college campuses. Partnerships with the school districts and universities will grow awareness more quickly, this starts with administration for high schools, parents, teachers, and student organizations.

By giving career presentations, resume workshops, and calling institutions we have been able to draw in users. Word of mouth is very powerful as well, and we plan on having students bring awareness to their students this way.

What resources does your project need? (check all that apply)

Money (financial capital)

Volunteers/staff (human capital)

Publicity/awareness (social capital)

Infrastructure (building/space/vehicles, etc.)


Technical infrastructure (computers, etc.)

Community outreach

Network/relationship support

Quality improvement research

11 Pink talk bubble tail c96b4a07ef1417e25d0bcf5c4cba4766b8bbf0382f07677990a9d5577885d4d7

Thanks for your reply. It doesn't let me re-reply to your last message but I wanted to ask before I start voting about your following statement.

"The photo comes from our first resume workshop we held on USC campus. We were surprised and happy to see students from high school attended as well. They were most eager to learn about what to include on their personal statements and how to best put together their college applications specific to each school."

Why did you have an in person resume workshop if you are an online marketplace? Also it looks like only 6 people showed up? Does this really warrant a $150,000 investment? I have also checked out your website and I'm curious to know why your site seems so underdeveloped.

Please reply back as soon as you can so I can get a better understanding of what your company is all about and where you are with your site.

by Dajarling
over 1 year ago

Ummm you know there are things called CAREER CENTERS that students can go to right? In high school AND college. I will not be voting for this one.

by Dajarling
over 1 year ago

I find a few things troubling with this application:

1) You say you are targeting community colleges. Community college students can't afford these types of services. Same with high school students and school districts. Schools can't even pay for school supplies, so how are they going to pay for this service?

2) You say you spent $6,000 to get to where you are today. What did you use it on?

3) I didn't really see a good idea of how the $100K will be budgeted. Seems like there needs to be more refinement in this application.

Please answer my questions before the voting deadline so I can get some clarity.


by PatriceLatafima
over 1 year ago

Correction. Only 5 people showed up to your workshop?

by Dajarling
over 1 year ago

Hi Dajarling,

One of the first thing we encountered when getting feedback from both high school students and college students is how the career centers often don't provide the support they need. This isn't anything against the career service centers, there are typically too many students of them to handle and they don't come from all the industries students are interested in and have questions about.

The career service centers acknowledge that to help with the volume and highly specific types of careers the students have that they could use help from our marketplace. We have started partnerships with university career service centers to help compliment their services, and have been meeting with parent-teacher organizations at the high school level.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions!

by EddieThePrepSource
over 1 year ago

Hi Patrice!

Thanks for reviewing our application! We love it when people take the time to go through everything in detail! Please see below for additional details:

1) The administration for the Community College systems use grant money for student advisor services and from our discussions it looks like The Prep Source would fit into that no issue. We plan on setting up presentations to begin a pilot program at a small group of Community Colleges in the fall.

2) The money used so far has mostly been used for product development and partially to pay part-time college interns to help with the design to suit both high school students and their classmates as well.

3) The $100k will be broken down as follows:
$55,000 for a web developer to create Phase 2 of our product we call the "Career Roadmap"
Students can enter their passions, hobbies, interests, and schools they are interested in attending and The Career Roadmap will use our algorithm to automatically generate a "tree" or map that shows them which career paths that might suit them and which steps to take to achieve those goals. One of the biggest concerns that came to light after speaking to recent college graduates is that they do not know how to translate their degree into jobs in the workforce. One of our biggest goals for Phase 2 is to show students what careers they may be suited for that they may not have thought of as well as show them new careers that emerge in the rapidly changing workforce, for example careers in renewables and certain technology jobs did not even exist just a few years ago. The web developer we have lined up has over 10 years of programming experience and typically gets $85,000 for a project of this scope but he is passionate about career development.
The ultimate goal of the "Career Roadmap" is to make sure student's align their personal and professional goals so that they are ultimately happy in their job and are passionate about their work.
$30,000 will be used for a Data Scientist part-time to develop the algorithm to translate the students passions, hobbies, interests, goals into the roadmap and action plan that we will have for them. The action plan adapts as the student progresses and updates their career progression.
$15,000 will be used for server maintenance and support on Amazon Web Services (we have already received a discount since we are working out of a college campus)

We left our jobs where we were getting paid over $100k/yr because we have experienced first hand how important highly specific preparation was to getting into the colleges and jobs we have had throughout our career.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions or clarification as we would be happy to answer them!


by EddieThePrepSource
over 1 year ago

Hi Dajarling!

Thank you so much for your consideration, we're very appreciative!

The reason for we conducted an in-person resume workshop for an online business wasn't so much for the students in the workshop as much as it was to get quick and direct feedback to refine a better product for all the students we serve online. This really was the creation of a focus group of our customers to get their feedback on what features to add and what parts to improve/remove. The mentors at our startup incubator always push us to adhere to the principles of "The Lean Startup" movement, that reduces waste in both money and time ensuring that we focus on only adding features to our product that our customers want. Dropbox is the one of the most recent startups to lead this movement.
We have numerous ideas on next steps we just needed to know directly from the customer which ones to prioritize, etc.

We gathered students for the resume workshops simply by walking around campus for a day handing out fliers while explaining our business to students and parents. We got great feedback from them on what they like and what is less relevant for them. Since this was during the summer there weren't a lot of people on campus, and the students that were on campus were mostly prospective students touring the school or were commuting for summer classes; but we weren't focused on turnout as much much as we were more concerned about building a focus group for the existing website and services but even more importantly feedback on the next phase of technology development to make sure we are being efficient and building what they are looking for. The resume workshop was a win for the students who were able to make it and a great way for us to help us quickly get feedback to serve our customers better. The way we recruited students and gathered feedback was actually a very cost conscious approach focusing on quick and free channel for customer feedback while helping out students in person.

We used Google Analytics to help us understand what pieces of our site draw students in and what keeps them engaged. We actually worked very hard to keep every bit of text as concise as possible and to go for a clean, simple, and easy to digest information for low attention span students which we validated through both our analytics and resume workshops. We actually spent quite a lot of time debating which pages to remove/others to clean up/where to move text and how much of it to have. We resolved our team speculation simply through experimentation and validating results on Google Analytics. The $150,000 is actually more focused on both improving technology infrastructure to help handle the increasing load and even more importantly on implementing the algorithms on the portions of the site that take student passions and hobbies to help students identify their best fit career paths and roadmap for how to get there. This requires additional developers but more importantly a very talented data scientist and ultimately will help students align their personal interests with career goals that are rewarding from both the nature of the work and financially.

Right now where we stand is we have helped numerous students prepare for interviews, some have received job offers and credited us for their success, and some have started coaching early (thankfully) so they are in a position to make changes to their career approach while in school instead of after they graduate. We won't know exactly for a couple years if those freshmen get the job of their dreams but we're just happy they started early.

For some student quotes:

"I got three interviews from some of the biggest companies in the US and thanks to the cover letter and resume you helped me revise!"
[feedback to one of the mentors] "I hope you enjoyed our conversation as much as I did, I look forward to doing additional sessions with you via The Prep Source, keep up the great work."

Where we're at right now is we continue to help a number of students every day and are now at the point where we can better serve our students by adding the additional functionality regarding the algorithms for career path generation, helping build greater infrastructure to handle increasing student demand, and integrating more video features for greater student-mentor interaction for future webinars and interactive sessions. Although some of these features are expensive, we are confident that these features are the right set of features to roll out next to students in the next phase as these ideas came directly from their feedback, some of which came from the resume review workshops.

Thank you so much again and we are always happy to keep providing important information! As always please let us know what else we can clarify as this means so much to us!

by EddieThePrepSource
over 1 year ago

Thank you for your detailed response! Unfortunately, I've only come away with more questions. I wish you and your colleagues the best of luck.

by PatriceLatafima
over 1 year ago

Hi Patrice,

Sorry I wanted to provide a bit more concise response on this one:

1) Community Colleges and public school districts have discussed allocating portions of their grant money for students. There are some programs at some public school districts that have not been very expensive but not successful and they're looking for new ways to allocate those grants.

2) The money spent so far has been spent on paying college students to help build the product

3) The $100k will be used for computers programmers based out of downtown LA who help small businesses build new functionality for their websites.

Please let me know if you have any questions as we would be happy to answer them! I'm very passionate about the Educational Technology space and have been working unpaid to help take this project to the next level! We would be thrilled to have your support!

by EddieThePrepSource
over 1 year ago

Thanks for the reply EddieThePrepSource. This is good information to know. Can you please tell me what the photo of students in your online application represents?

~ Dajarling

by Dajarling
over 1 year ago

Hi Dajarling!

The photo comes from our first resume workshop we held on USC campus. We were surprised and happy to see students from high school attended as well. They were most eager to learn about what to include on their personal statements and how to best put together their college applications specific to each school.

Most students felt that career service centers didn't have all the resources they needed to get the specific their guidance was looking for. This isn't anything against career services at the high school or college level, many universities and community colleges are looking to partner with us because the number of coaches at career services centers are limited relative to the overwhelming number of students they have to service and not all of them have the expertise students are looking for.

For example one of the students wanted to know how to build a career in renewable energy and sustainability, the career counselors didn't have anyone to guide them on this because that job function didn't really exist until just a few years ago. Just keeping everything fresh and dynamic is why many career service centers at the high school as well as the college level partner with us as well.

The most important thing right now is we are focusing on leveling the playing field as students at LA USD do not have the same access as some other students whose parents pay thousands of dollars to get their kids into the college of their choice. Our mission statement is

"Giving everyone who wants to better themselves a fair chance and an equal opportunity to succeed from high school and beyond."

Please let me know if I can help clarify or expand anything! Great to hear your feedback!


by EddieThePrepSource
over 1 year ago

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Submission Began
Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Submission Ended
Thursday, July 31, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Voting Began
Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Voting Ended
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
at 07:00 PM UTC

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Winner Announced
Tuesday, September 30, 2014