Student builds website to help peers find the right careers

Thomas Ma

Thomas Ma, a senior in economics, launched a career development website to give fellow students more insight into jobs. “I’m trying to do something that will make an impact and motivate them,” he says.

 

Thomas Ma aspires to help his peers find the right career path.

Ma, a senior in economics, launched a career development website in August, www.careerpodium.com, to give students insight into the workforce. The site features questionnaires filled out by working professionals on topics students might be curious about, such as how to prepare for a particular job.

“The workforce is a lot different than the classroom, and basically this is giving people the opportunity to share their own experiences as opposed to the generic stuff that you see when you Google a job description,” Ma said.

When he was a student at St. Charles East High School, Ma considered going into pre-med. He searched for a site that could offer valuable information about the medical field but came up short. After visiting the UIC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, Ma decided to put together his own career database website.

Ma hopes to incorporate testimonials from people in a variety of fields to help students identify their desired career paths sooner rather than later, so they can learn what courses to take for their field.

Ma learned a lot about the workforce while working at his mom’s nail salon and talking with the customers. He realized that coffee chats can be time-consuming, so he wanted to give students an additional resource to begin thinking about careers.

“I’m trying to do something that will make an impact on the students and motivate them to maybe study harder and potentially do more activities to prepare themselves,” he said.

Ma credits his membership with Phi Kappa Psi as having a large impact on his desire to launch his own website. His website collaborators include five of his fraternity brothers – Michal Kolenda, Marc Demory, Ameer Akashe, Jonathan Medina and Brennan Gudmundson – as well as student Mickey Gardner.

“It’s just the start of something big,” Ma said.

His collaborators are helping to manage the site while Ma is studying abroad in Barcelona this semester.

“To manage the site content and the logistics, I have to utilize my free time to reach out to people, making sure the website is in good shape,” he said. “As the founder, I constantly have to think of ways to improve the idea and figure out how to achieve that goal.”

Professionals who are willing to be interviewed for the database can email Ma.