Startup Profile: Geek Girl Careers
Sandhya Iyer wants to quiz you.
But don’t worry, this is not another Buzzfeed quiz. Her online assessment gives you career guidance based on your passion, skills, and personality, with the results providing an overview of potential career paths and opportunities uniquely suited for you.
Before turning to Blackstone LaunchPad to help scale her business, Sandhya started building Geek Girl Careers – a career discovery and exploration platform geared towards young women – as a high school passion project. Back then, Sandhya’s interests ranged from writing and theater to fashion and psychology, making it difficult to decide what career path to pursue. Luckily, she had some guidance from her dad, who suggested she complete an assessment of her passions and areas where she excelled. Armed with this information, she confidently pursued a major in Public Relations and Marketing at Syracuse University.
While initially struggling to narrow down her focus, Sandhya noticed that many of her friends experienced a similar problem and ultimately pursued career paths that were not a great fit.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Sandhya says, “but the number one source of stress for 83% of young adults in their 20’s is finding a career that they’re passionate about, because they’re not exposed to careers beyond doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher…what their parents do, and what their family friends do. They begin to think that those are the only options that exist.”
This gap in information about potential career paths, especially for young women like herself, is what inspired Sandhya to launch Geek Girl Careers. Initially, she developed the site to be a free resource for young women who wanted to discover career paths that resonated with their skills and passions. In addition to a blog and personality assessment, the platform included an array of industry experts eager to provide advice.
The platform quickly gained traction, initial users growing from Sandhya and her dad’s personal network to include workers at all stages of their career. Sandhya attributes Geek Girl Career’s early success to the popularity of the personality assessment and society’s innate curiosity to learn more about themselves.
“The personality assessment is definitely one of the right ways to go about it because it takes two minutes, it’s free, it’s really intuitive, and you get a ton of information,” she says.
While in school, she turned to Syracuse University’s LaunchPad to help grown her business and learn more about entrepreneurship through events, mentorship opportunities, and pitch competitions.
“Sandhya is an active peer mentor to female tech founders, a frequent speaker at our Fireside Chats series, and collaborates with other LaunchPad Fellowship recipients such as Solace Vision,” says the Syracuse University LaunchPad Campus Director, Linda Dickerson Hartsock. “She’s been very engaged with the Syracuse University LaunchPad while building Geek Girl Careers, and I’m impressed by her vision and commitment.”
After graduating this past June, she once again turned to LaunchPad for help initiating Geek Girl Careers’ next phase: building a community-focused experience that includes more interaction between students and industry experts.
Participating in the eight week Summer 2021 LaunchPad Fellowship, Sandhya will work on building the Geek Girl Careers Tech Career Exploration Program. The pilot program, launched in June 2021, helps students learn about four different tech sectors: engineering, data science, business, and communications. Throughout the program, users learn what’s expected in each field of study and what potential career options might be after graduation. The program is open to all female-identifying students based in Northern California and costs only $100. Professors and alumni from various universities including Georgia Tech, American University, Loyola University Chicago, and Syracuse University will lead the sessions during four two-hour long classes. The goal of the pilot program is to help participants foster relationships with professors and alumni in their desired career space and inform them of the many opportunities available beyond the common perceptions of tech-oriented careers.
Over the course of the Fellowship, Sandhya will spend eight weeks refining her ideas, talking with customers, building out her marketing strategy, engaging with a robust peer and mentor group, and supporting her business with a $5,000 grant courtesy of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Sandhya is still figuring out what the future of Geek Girl Careers will look like, but she remains steadfast in her mission to empower women and students to discover their dream careers where they can thrive for who they truly are.