Meaningful Work

A 21st-century career preparation firm delivers an old and tested model in a new way

INTERVIEW | by Victor Rivero

modern guild imageAdrien Fraise wanted to build a “better fusion between academics and career education to help students maximize their generalist education for future career success,” as he puts it. His company, modern guild, helps to bridge a chasm in the U.S. “generalist” education system: the lack of a meaningful connection between academics and career education. “This is impacting students, who are graduating less prepared for life after college, as well as corporations, who are struggling to find efficient, cost-effective ways to identify suitable top talent,” he argues. Adrien’s company addresses this issue by providing college and college-bound students three different levels of 1-on-1, online career prep courses taught by industry professionals and trained career coaches. These career mentors help students – their protégés – illuminate career paths, expand career knowledge, and craft value propositions. “By the time our students graduate, they are genuinely passionate and knowledgeable about their career pursuits, making them attractive candidates for top entry-level positions across numerous industries,” he says.

Victor: Alright, so how exactly does modern guild do that? What are the benefits?

Adrien: modern guild helps college and college-bound students understand themselves (their skills and interests), define their career compatibility, expand their career knowledge and engage and network with experts in their fields of choice – all to help them get started in their ideal careers, right out of college. Ultimately, modern guild provides these students a career compass so they can maximize their college learning experience and be prepared to start “real” life.

Victor: Fair enough, but isn’t college more than just job-preparation? 

Adrien: Absolutely. But, let’s not kid ourselves – college has been billed for years as the best way to advance a career. And in that, it is currently falling short.  Students today realize that they don’t have to settle on one or the other; academics and career education are not a zero sum game. It is simply that delivering career education as an afterthought to academics is a disservice to college students everywhere, especially with today’s skyrocketing tuitions and high rates of unemployment and underemployment.

Victor: Let’s talk about the name.

Adrien: “Modern” emphasizes the convenient, easy to use and technology-based tools we offer to streamline career education. “Guild” illustrates how our mentors train our students to become highly prepared for and engaged in specific careers. Together, modern guild symbolizes a new delivery of an old, tested way of career preparation. As we like to say, modern guild is apprenticeship, evolved.

Victor: Are you working with universities directly or directly to students?

While students can sign up with us directly, we also partner with universities and high schools to promote or provide our services to their students. As we are a merit-based application program and deliver a very “high-touch” service, we can only accommodate a select number of students. That makes it particularly appealing for us to align with schools and organizations – formally or informally – to help us find the incredibly talented but career-confused students who deserve and need our help the most.

Victor: Got examples?

We have a variety of video and written testimonials available at http://www.modernguild.com/testimonials and http://www.youtube.com/modernguild.

Victor: How will you know if you are successful?

Adrien: We actively survey our participants – both students and mentors – throughout the process and are finding incredibly high levels of satisfaction and meaningful improvements in career and interview preparedness. In addition, we want to know if they are going deep into interview rounds, if they are getting offers, and whether these interviews and offers come from the firms they are most interested in. Longer term, however, our success will be based not just on preparedness or even getting a good job, but whether our protégés’ decisions prove to be a good one several years down the road. Are careers progressing? Are they still in the same field? Are they happy and engaged?

Victor: Who is modern guild particularly tailored for and who is it not for?

Adrien: No question, modern guild isn’t for everyone. Our career prep courses are 8-10 weeks of intensive programs and real work, and they require protégés to be active, serious and committed. We look for smart students who are engaged in their communities and who realize the value of one-on-one programs like ours in helping direct them toward career success.

The best part is that modern guild is not just for those that can afford it. We provide students with merit and financial aid-based scholarships.

Victor: Your thoughts on education these days?

Adrien: I am a big believer in the U.S. generalist – or liberal arts – education, but there is a chink in the armor in that system. While it is incredible at training students to think critically and encourages an open-minded approach to life, too few students understand how to connect these skills to the real world. They need more hands-on knowledge and experience of how these skills translate every day so they are more informed about what skills they need to get out of college beyond the general core. I am simply advocating that we create better fusion between academics and career education to help students maximize their generalist education for future career success.

I think modern guild offers that fusion by putting students under the tutelage of an experienced professional who is both skilled in a career and passionate about mentoring, similar to relationships between a student and a college professor or young professional and grizzled company veteran.

To use an analogy, visiting a foreign city with a friend who has lived in the city for years is a much different, and I would argue a more enjoyable and rewarding, experience than visiting a city as part of a large, fixed-schedule tour group that just shows you what the tour books told you.

Victor: How’s the future looking? 

Adrien: Ask any entrepreneur and their outlook on the future is rosy. However, students today are faced with a stagnant economy, skyrocketing tuition and a shortage of quality career resources. College grads will be resilient. Many will look outside of their current college courses and take advantages of so many emerging programs being offered, such as modern guild, to give them a boost and help them on the right career trajectory given their interests and skills.

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