Amerigo Vespucci was a Florentine explorer in the 1400s who mapped the stars of the southern hemisphere and ocean border of Brazil. Notably, he first proved Columbus’ discovery was not the eastern edge of Asia but instead a previously unknown continent. This matters, because more important than knowing where you’re going (in name) is knowing where it is (in relationship to your origin) and then deciding how best to get there (of various routes).
The same is true in navigating career transitions. Often, moving from say, the service industry into tech, is considered an information issue. We imagine if there was more data on jobs, wages, education pathways, outcome metrics, and program requirements, then folks could make an informed decisions. But that’s not how we travel.
Travel isn’t linear, and there’s stops, transitions, and external information that’s relevant to the journey. Think of it like the New York Subway. Knowing where to go matters, but it’s only useful if you know the place you start. Beyond that, your first time on the subway, it’s helpful to have an expert show you the ropes and explain what the map doesn’t show — where to board, how to learn about closures, and which stops have the best bagels or coffee.
Even then, subways operate in two dimensions. Career navigation, like hiking the John Muir Trail, is three dimensional. Not only do you need the route, but you need to know about elevation, good places to camp, find water, and get cell service. You have to understand the impact of physical obstacles and how to plan your rate of travel and where to camp or resupply.
Making the journey alone is dangerous, and only slightly less so with a map you can’t read. However, if the route is explained by someone who’s been down the path before, and (here’s the key) you’re able to talk to someone when you’re not sure which path to follow, a map is indispensable.
That’s our thesis at PelotonU as we introduce the advising department.
We plan to map routes for post-traditional students from entry-level jobs to good careers. What’s more, we plan to talk to anyone who wants to have a personalized conversation to help them understand where they are, where they want to go, and how best to get there.
If you know anyone who’s interested in starting the journey, we’d love to help.