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For most of my career, I’ve worked as a marketer for large consumer goods companies – but I’ve always been interested in breaking into technology. Filed appeal after appeal. I would like to connect with technology leaders on LinkedIn. I would ask for introductions, I have scheduled meetings, but I will hide over and over again. Then finally, after years of preparation, it happened. A mentor at a Growing Equity Fund sent my resume to the CEO of Carta, which prompted me to land my first role in technology.
Breaking into technology with a non-technical background is challenging,” says Robin Harris, co-founder and CEO of Career Karma. “The same barriers in funding also exist with startups. Career Karma is the product we wish we had had when we were breaking into technology. Our vision is to help as many people as possible navigate their careers and build successful tech careers.”
According to a recent McKinsey study, 375 million workers will switch jobs between now and 2030. During the Great Resignation Period, 4.4 million people quit their jobs. The intense competition to attract talent to technology is at levels that some recruiters say they haven’t seen in 20 years. says Jim Bartolomea, vice president of global talent for Tech titan ServiceNow, which employs a large portion of San Diego’s software talent.
Enter Career Karma, one of the largest platforms to refinish and hone talent. Currently, three million people visit its platform per month in search of career advice. Individuals are matched for the best functional training program for them. They also have access to a community of thousands of people in live audio rooms, giving them support to complete programs and find jobs..
“The $2.2 trillion post-secondary education market is disintegrating, and Career Karma has created its own category,” Harris says. “We help adults navigate an increasingly complex landscape of colleges, non-degree programs, professional certifications, boot camps and short courses. Career Karma is where businesses, schools, and career training programs come together in one place.”
Harris is revolutionizing the world of educational technology and empowering millions of people to break into technology. Here are three lessons he learned in building professional karma:
At the age of four, Harris became a cellist (he still plays to this day). He credits his ability to remain disciplined as a founder of those early formative years of learning music. “As a musician, you learn a lot of things: subjective and objective analysis, how to express yourself, how to praise and criticize,” Harris says. “I learned how to compete, I learned how to teach, I learned how to set and exceed goals. All of these things put me on the path to starting my own company someday.”
As Harris describes it, learning the correct way to play an instrument like the cello, memorize a piece, or learn the beats can take months of practice before you see results. “Staying disciplined is key,” Harris says. “When you’re building a company, results won’t happen overnight.” He remembers being rejected by Y Combinator the first time they applied. He was disappointed, but remained disciplined and stayed the course. He didn’t let this rejection stop him. Career Karma was accepted the second time Harris and co have applied to Y Combinator.
Community building is the key
“Community building is one of the main factors that differentiate us in the marketplace,” Harris says. “Psychological support is crucial when you are pursuing a new goal like learning a completely new skill. You can be in the best school and have access to the best teachers, but self-doubt still creeps in.” For many people on the Career Karma platform, the prospect of entering a new world like technology can be daunting. The support provided by the Career Karma community helps individuals to persevere when they feel stuck and about to give up.
“I grew up with a lot of confidence,” Harris says. “In Atlanta, I have been surrounded by successful people who are just like me. I never doubted that I could achieve anything. I want Career Karma to help all individuals realize their potential.”
Don’t let “no” stop you from asking again
Harris and his team just closed $40 million Series B funding and raised $52 million in the past three years. All of their first major investors doubled their investments. However, many investors that Harris contacted early on said no the first time around.
“Just because someone says no, don’t let that stop you from asking again,” Harris advises entrepreneurs. “You have to feel comfortable expressing a vision that people might believe in, but they might not think you can do. If they say no, come back to them in a year and say, Remember what I said I’m going to do? Guess what? You did it, and then they cut you a check” .
Harris advises entrepreneurs not to hold a grudge and not to burn bridges with investors. Some who said no the first time said yes the second time, and they invested more than Harris expected.
Now that the second round of Series B has closed, Career Karma is preparing to recruit heavily into products, data and design, as well as expand into higher education and institutions. “With Career Karma, we’re not just building a company, we’re building a movement to connect global talent to their next opportunity,” says Harris.