Mark Babbitt is the CEO and Founder of YouTern.
Tell us about your business.
YouTern was born from what Babbitt believes was a necessity to help young professionals become more employable. “I was responsible for hiring a whole bunch of entry-level professionals and I kept running into a brick wall. They had their degree, but nothing else. They had no experience and it was frustrating for me as a customer of the higher education system, so we set out to fix.”
What makes your company a leader in your industry?
“Our view on mentor-ship, without a doubt. We’re not here to sell stuff, we’re not here to make false promises…we look at every member of our community as somebody who has something to learn and we engage with those who help them learn that.” YouTern’s young professionals work with recruiters, resume writers, hiring managers, and recent graduates who found success already so they can get real, practical, helpful advice.
What contributions have you made and are willing to take towards the world?
“We actually built YouTern to be a for-purpose business. We have never charged a student for any of our work and 20 percent of the work my team and I do is strictly pro-bono.”
Who or what has influenced you?
Babbitt cites Tom Peters and Guy Kawasaki, two successful businessmen, as some of his greatest influencers. However, it was the higher education system that motivated him to start YouTern. “This is going to sound negative, but if the higher education system was doing a good job of preparing our young talent for the workforce, we wouldn’t be necessary. The education system we have in place now is doing a terrible job of setting our young talent up for success.”
What key qualities do you look for when you are recruiting candidates for companies?
“We’ve basically kept the same core team since our inception 6 years ago, so that’s pretty awesome. Emotional intelligence is first, and not just on my team. When we help companies try and build the best team possible, we stress the importance of emotional intelligence. It’s so funny that we hire people with the right degrees, from the right school, but we don’t access what kind of person they are when things are going really, really bad or really, really good. We’re a virtual team, so we rely on each other consistently when things are going well or not and you can’t do that without emotional intelligence. The second thing for me is extreme ownership. Especially in a virtual team, you can’t thrive unless you’re completely and absolutely accountable to yourself and the team.”
What advice do you have for a college graduate going into the workforce?
“They need to be able to answer two questions. The first is: What are you really, really good at? If a young professional can answer that question, they’re ahead of about 99.5 percent of their competition. A lot of people know what they like, but they have no idea what they’re good at. The second is: Who will pay you to do that? If you can answer those two questions you’re all set because now not only do you know your value, you also know who to target in your career search.”
What advice do you have for other businesses looking to expand?
“You absolutely have to get in front. People don’t buy from brands anymore. People buy from people. The days of hiding behind your logo are gone. You have to be apparent and accessible.”
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced starting up your business?
“The recession! We began toying with the concept of YouTern in late 2008 and we had no idea how bad the recession was going to be or how it would affect us. Right when we went to launch YouTern, the recession was at its peak and it was brutal. The job market was rough, funding for career centers in colleges and universities was extremely low, and it was almost depressing trying to find work during this time. In hindsight, we couldn’t have timed our launch any worse, but we still fought through it. We were early adopters of social media and blogging and we grew very organically without relying on advertising or traditional methods of emerging growth. We just pounded the pavement, the digital pavement, if you will, and eventually we just nailed it. We were able to figure out what worked and what didn’t work, and eventually it all paid off.”
For more information about YouTern, be sure to visit their website:
Contributed by: Super Julie Braun Written/Edited By: Alexandria Rae Martinez, PR Agent