The following is a guest post by Jonathan Cervantes.
I’m an 18 year old Las Vegas native running media and digital for Qualifyor, a Downtown Project backed consultancy that offers affordable, reliable, and high quality technical and creative project work (i.e. basic website design and building, graphic design, video, social media, etc.). Given the sobering statistics on youth unemployment in this country, you may be wondering how I ended up with a job like this.
Currently the market for web design and development, graphic design, video, and inbound marketing is primarily populated by high priced agencies or low priced crowd sourced providers. (e.g. 99 designs, eLance, Odesk). Small businesses and startups often have limited resources, which puts agency work out of their reach. On the other hand, they are cautious of going with an online provider as the teams staffing these types of projects are frequently located across the globe, making for language, cultural, and timezone barriers. Add to that a lack of personal referrals or recommendations to ensure the talent is reliable, and companies struggle with whether the low cost providers are even worth the hassle. This is where the unique part about Qualifyor comes in, because their projects are staffed by teams of vetted and trained young apprentices, and overseen by experienced professionals.
In offering this type of a service at affordable rates, Qualifyor improves the customer experience, but also provides real work experience and exposure to young people with strong hard skills in project areas. Qualifyor develops and trains apprentices (who are typically aged eighteen to twenty-three) making them desirable to potential employers who may otherwise be hesitant to hire relatively inexperienced young people. Although Qualifyor is not a recruitment agency, it can assist companies looking for great entry-level hires. The model allows for clients to work with young talent on projects and then potentially hire from that pool of consultants.
Qualifyor was founded to bridge the gap between education and employment and initially focused on placing young people in internships. As a member of the inaugural class, I underwent personality testing, was matched with a mentor, competed in project weeks, and had the opportunity to attend soft skills workshops and boot camps led by a number of companies ranging in size from small startups to large corporations. It was through the boot camps and workshops that I met people from MGM Resorts International, Zappos, Google, Project 100, RollTech, and Wedgies, among others, who taught me things like project management, responsibility, accountability, branding, professionalism, and time management. This hands-on, industry driven education enabled me to demonstrate my skill real time, and I secured an internship with Qualifyor that later turned into a full time job. I’m also starting college part time this spring, but I feel that the most effective education I’m receiving right now comes from actually doing the job college aims to prepare me for.
Currently, all of the Qualifyor grads are either in college, have secured jobs (most with their host company), or are both in college and working. Although Qualifyor had success with its initial three month internship model and is keeping most of the educational components of that beta program, during the program’s upcoming second phase, Qualifyor is transitioning to the consultancy model I described above.
In order to address the massive societal challenges surrounding education and employment right now (i.e. 4 million unfilled U.S. jobs, student debt, youth unemployment, and skills mismatch) we need a more integrated system, which offers young people a chance to build a professional network, explore potential career paths, and actually get hands on experience before making a massive investment in college. Qualifyor aims to do this in a way driven by industry demand.
There are several ways to get involved with Qualifyor. Whether you’re looking to have a project sourced by them, wanting to make an impact on the community by becoming mentor or an advisor, or you’re wanting to join the program, there’s definitely an option and way to get involved with Qualifyor. If you want more information on Qualifyor or if you simply want to get in contact with them, visit qualifyor.com.