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YouScience helps students find best career for them before investing in college

Dec 09, 2013

By Jamie McGee
original article: The Tennessean

With the cost of college rising and many graduates not any closer to knowing what they want to do with their lives after they graduate, Betsy Wills saw a need and an opportunity.

She and Courage Capital Management co-founder Richard Patton created YouScience, a company focused on helping young people determine a career path that most aligns with their strengths and interests. The Brentwood-based company launched Latitude last week, a product that gives students a clearer picture of what careers they best fit and what education is needed to pursue them. Latitude, led by YouScience CEO Philip Hardin, is an online platform that measures the interests and the natural abilities of an individual based on a two-hour online assessment and distills those results into a range of compatible career choices. The idea is that job success is more likely if someone pursues a career for which they are naturally suited.

“Now that college has gotten unbelievably expensive, the stakes have become very high for young people as they enter a very expensive education process,” Wills said. “If we can reach these families before they have invested a tremendous amount in this education, we can really help them more.”

The Latitude assessment examines a user’s strengths through exercises in 14 different aptitudes, from idea generating to vocabulary to sequential reasoning. Students can read what each aptitude means and how it translates into the workforce.

Students also can explore a range of 500 different jobs, including those that are identified as “strong” and “good” fits for them, and examine the number of people in the field, the education or training needed, degrees that would prepare them, projections for job openings over a 10-year period, salary ranges and related careers.

“We want young people to begin with the end in mind,” said Hardin, a former executive at Emdeon and WebMD. “We will help them confidently know what are those next steps.”

Current career tests are based on self-reported data or on personal interests, whereas Latitude, which costs $399, encompasses both interests and abilities and can determine objective, valid results, Hardin said.

While a person of any age can benefit from Latitude, its target market is those ages 16 to 26 who are in their “defining decade,” according to Hardin.

YouScience, with 26 full-time employees, has raised $8.5 million and will seek another $6 million in the coming year to expand operations and further develop its products. The company is focusing on growing in eight cities including Boston, New Orleans, Nashville and Atlanta.

In 2014, Hardin plans to expand nationwide, as well as roll out a second product that enables employers to more effectively identify and attract talent among recent graduates. The product includes a skills test assessing critical reasoning, problem solving, team work, interpersonal skills and situational judgment, things an employer can’t determine from a resume, and will help companies narrow the pool from which to interview.

Additional Facts

Majority of college grads don’t work in field of study.

A study released earlier this year by researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found some interesting statistics related to college majors and employment. Post-Great Recession, the study found that:

Close to 62.1 percent of college graduates in the labor force work in a job requiring a college degree but only 27.3 percent in a job that is directly related to their college major.