May 19, 2024

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Home From College CEO Julia Haber Talks Gen Z And Jobs, Making Career Opportunities Accessible To All In Interview

6 min read
Home From College CEO Julia Haber Talks Gen Z And Jobs, Making Career Opportunities Accessible To All In Interview

One of the decided advantages of covering accessibility and assistive technology as I do is how evergreen it is. No matter the news cycle, there will always be a time and place for accessibility-oriented stories because there will always be a need for accessibility in life. In other words, accessibility springs eternal. As a practical matter, despite every October being National Disability Employment Awareness Month, the reality is disabled people look for jobs year-round so any tools that make the task easier is eminently relevant the other eleven months of the year.

One such tool is the cleverly-named Home From College.

Roughly speaking, Home From College is a website similar to how Indeed and LinkedIn help people find careers. What makes Home From College special is its focus on catering to Generation Z. On its homepage, Home From College bills itself as “the place to make a start” and has arrows pointing to buttons whereupon clicking them either helps build one’s resume or finds gigs. Home From College is young, having started only in 2021, but has become the go-to place for organizations like Thrive Market, Peacock, Steve Madden, and more to graze for top talent.

“Home From College was created to provide a marketplace platform where brands can source and connect with Gen Z professionals in a completely different way compared to traditional job sites,” Julia Haber, co-founder and CEO of Home From College, said to me in an interview via email. “It is democratizing access to gig work for young professionals while simultaneously enabling businesses to leverage new marketing avenues and integrate their core consumers into their business.”

Haber explained a “staggering” 80% of college students leave school without any professional work experience on their resume. Couple that statistic with Gen Z’s interest in the gig economy, and Haber said her team is uniquely suited to “[fill] a major gap in the market and helping solve this systemic issue with a tech-enabled, student-first, career platform [which is] evening the playing field for young professionals, despite their experience, location, or background, by giving them access to a plethora of opportunities to meet them where they are.”

According to Haber, Home From College’s core product is “a place to find and apply for flexible opportunities, from one-day projects to continuous roles that align with their location, interests, and budding skills.” She added Home From College serves as a “seamless entry point” through which young job-seekers can test new roles and bolster their resumes. This is important, Haber told me, because this entryway oftentimes represents a person’s first source of income. Moreover, for companies like the aforementioned Thrive Market, Home From College makes it easy for them to “take a fresh approach” to finding labor by simplifying how employers “review, contract, manage, pay, and even source long-term hires across a range of freelance work, content creation, ambassador programs, product testing, and internships.”

“As a second-time founder in the college space [of connection startup WAYV], I have a deep understanding of the pain points students face when entering the job market,” Haber said of what she brings to the proverbial table in terms of knowledge and expertise. “It is often met with feelings of anxiety and stress, as many don’t know where to start. Home From College is meant to be a powerful resource for those just beginning their career journeys as well as beyond.”

My conversation with Haber coincided with an announcement made this week that Home From College raised a $5.4 million seed round, led by venture capital firm Google Ventures. The money will go towards expanding the company’s products and allow them to further grow the team. With today’s news, Home From College now has raised a total of $6.9 million in funding in only three years. “We’re excited to leverage this new capital to continue expanding our product portfolio and support a wider range of career-based needs,” Haber said of the new round.

Home From College, Haber said, was developed in collaboration with “hundreds” of students who provided real-time feedback on everything from design to features. Haber explained the company’s ethos as believing the most effective way to finding one’s career path is by doing; gig work, she said, allows people to “get their hands dirty” by gaining invaluable experience which then can be parlayed into future jobs and bolster work one’s employment history. All told, Haber distilled Home From College as being a “turnkey tech-first solution” whereby companies and applicants have everything they need managed from start to finish.

“The all-in-one nature of the platform helps bridge the generational gap and provides education on professional best practices,” Haber said. “We streamline communication and act as the ‘translators’ to ensure that brands and students are interacting in a way that optimizes their experiences.”

She continued: “The main goal of the platform is to increase accessibility to opportunities, regardless of location, socioeconomic background, or experience. Many of the roles require little to zero skills and are remote so there is something for everyone.”

Haber’s point about making career opportunities more accessible for everyone is a poignant one, especially for those in the disability community. Home From College’s target demographic is young people ages 17 to 29; most disabled people receive special education services until age 22 before the industrial complex ages them out. Why this is pertinent is because, while older high school students are given occupational training via job coaches and the like, much of the assistance is bare-bones and doesn’t necessarily relate to one’s interests or skillset. Ergo, that Home From College exists means a disabled person looking to build out their work history can use them as a tool to find something suitable to their tastes and needs. What’s more, the company’s emphasis on highlighting gig work can add crucial flexibility for a disabled person. It can help them determine a work schedule that works for their needs and tolerances in terms of their health, transport, and other factors.

“Largely due to the economy, Gen Z tends to be financially insecure: loaded with debt and uncertain about the direction they want to take their careers,” Haber said. “They are redefining the future of work by placing greater emphasis on flexibility and work that fits into their lifestyles. They are also the fastest-growing generation, yet they have limited dedicated professional tools available to them. We identified this major pain point and created a solution that puts them first and speaks to them in a way they understand. As the gig economy continues to grow, already proving popular among those [aged] 25+ and Gen Z gravitates towards this type of work, Home From College is the platform to own the market. It gives them the opportunity to try on many hats and explore various paths that are outside what’s taught inside the classroom.”

When asked about Home From College’s future hopes and dreams, Haber said they want to make work accessible for all young people.

“Our hope is the Home From College platform can help better [people’s] lives and enable professional exploration for young professionals nationwide—and eventually globally,” she said. “We want to give everyone access to equal opportunities and a chance to start their career journeys on an even playing field. We are opening up the funnel of really strong emerging talent and building a brand that both students and companies can trust.”

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