Claudia Tobon, founder and CEO of Launch Now (launchnow.org) is on a mission to help students connect with the right careers earlier. She says high school counselors may call an employer to inquire about offering a student an experience, such as job shadowing or an internship, which can involve several emails and phone messages, only to find it is not a good fit. “Imagine trying to do it for 250 students,” says Tobon. “It really was mind blowing that in 2020, as I was designing this app, that there was no technology in place, and it was still a pen to paper process.”
The Launch Now platform helps students hone in on possible careers by creating a profile that includes their characteristics and interests and then presents them with tailored career options and local opportunities. The platform is vetted and approved by the Data Privacy Consortium of NH, says Tobon, and administered by high school counselors, preserving that important relationship with students.
“The student completes a career interest survey that’s fun and intuitive,” she says. “They swipe right or left, and the whole thing takes about 20 minutes. It’s comprehensive enough to gather good information but high level enough where students aren’t getting bored.”
The platform is free for students and school administrators and is in use in several Seacoast and Lakes Region schools. As she approaches the one-year anniversary of her launch, Tobon says she is looking to expand beyond NH to the rest of New England.
She says whether a student chooses college or a trade program, the most important thing is that they make an informed decision. “High school counselors are wonderful and they’re doing exceptional jobs,” says Tobon. “There’s just not enough of them and too many kiddos looking for direction.”