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Why our mission matters

Jeffrey Duncan

Prosple Co-founder
We go about our work at Prosple as if a better world is at stake with the career decision of every student user.

Trae Stephens (a partner at Founders Fund) and Markie Wagner (founder of Delphi Labs) recently penned this great article: ‘Choose Good Quests’. It’s a beautiful read. And like many great pieces, it triggers some introspection. 

Is my own ‘quest’ a ‘good’ one?

Our mission at Prosple:

To help every student get the best possible start to their career

Sounds nice. But what does success actually mean? Does it have a meaningful impact on the world? Should anyone even care?

The answer is not obvious in our day-to-day work. We will rarely get to witness first-hand the impact we have on students.

In fact, done well, it’s especially thankless work. If every student’s job search is so seamless that their perfect career feels immediately obvious to them, their career discovery process becomes entirely forgettable

Transitioning from education to career becomes but a blip on the radar. Students may not even use a Prosple.com site. Our technology is completely behind the scenes. 

So if our work is indeed worthwhile, we’re unlikely to hear it from students.

We need to think about the impact of our work from first principles.

Firstly, so what if a student makes a poor career choice? Shouldn’t they just realise their mistake after a few months, and promptly choose a new career?

Sadly, it rarely plays out like this. Yes, Gen Z job hop on a regular basis, but rarely is it risky and career-defining cross-industry leaps, especially once hooked on the perks and stability of corporate life. Even amongst the older and more experienced millennial cohort, almost half still wish they’d chosen a different career path.

Lisa Pryor describes the phenomenon in her book, ‘The Pinstriped Prison’. Imagine a brilliant young student just starting out their career. Despite having a  passion and talent for public policy, they are lured into a perceived ‘safe’ career in private law practice, with all its perks and excesses. What happens next? “Crazy work hours swallow these young professionals' lives, just as dry cleaning, taxis and take-away food swallow their large salaries. And by the time they discover their work is fundamentally boring, they are usually captives of the debts they've incurred to get a lifestyle that will compensate them for their life.”

We can all think of someone who has fallen into this trap. Maybe you, like me, can see your own early career decisions through the lens of ‘The Pinstriped Prison’?

So what?

As Lisa Pryor points out, the issue is not just the “mild tragedy of privileged individuals” leading dull lives. “This is about a kind of brain drain infecting our culture”.

“This syphoning of talent poses challenges for society and the economy”.

The next Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or Marie Curie are, statistically speaking, somewhere amongst Prosple’s 7m+ user base. They’re on the cusp of their own quest to make the future significantly better, and just need a subtle nudge to see past the ‘default’ safe, incremental career.

We go about our work at Prosple as if a better world is at stake with the career decision of every student user.

Now, it requires a certain leap of faith to claim the next Elon Musk will be Prosple’s doing. So let’s take a more quantitative approach to see if we can place a value on our work. Let’s say, conservatively, that we’re able to improve the ‘quality’ of our student’s career decisions, on average, by 10%. This in turn makes them 10% more ‘productive’, and in turn, compensated 10% more over the course of their career. If these users are each ‘producing’ $50k of value per annum, we can quantify this impact at a cool $35b (7m x $50k x 10% - obviously oversimplified, but a reasonable proxy for how career decisions play out in the real world). To put this in perspective, this would place Prosple’s impact alongside a top 100 GDP country. 

Before we get too hung up on the dollars, let’s also not forget that behind every stat, there’s a real human, and career choice that will have an enormous impact on their sense of self worth and fulfilment. It’s well documented how ‘non-desired’ occupations are associated with poor mental health. Career choice really matters for Gen Z, who are already more stressed than any other generation and less enthusiastic about the most common career paths. 

So back to our mission: 

To help every student get the best possible start to their career. 

It’s clear: our ‘quest’ is both a good one, and a hard one. We’re guiding the next generation of talent to opportunities to learn, earn and grow, and ultimately, to discover their own quest. 

‘Choose Good Quests’ made me grateful and proud to work at Prosple. 

Interested in attracting the
right graduate talent? Get in touch with us.