Why Odyssey? Or how to start actually fixing the network gap

Learn why Odyssey is important to create a better future, and the inspiration behind it.
Brian Keenan
5 minutes

“Are you… feeling sick?”

That was my roommate Alex, right after I hung up what could only be described as a disastrous phone interview from my dorm-room, for a private-wealth sophomore year internship.

I was so nervous that my throat shrunk to the size of pin, or maybe that means my throat expanded until there was only a pin-size gap left? Either way, I wasn’t answering the interviewer’s questions, I was just uttering single syllables between gasps for air. I hadn’t been feeling sick, but after that call I thought there had to be something wrong with me.

Things had been figured out. I had discovered investing, and fell in love instantly. Blogging about ideas, devouring the WSJ and every finance book I could get my hands on, and having CNBC playing 24/7– I knew this is what I wanted to do, no, what I was meant to do, after university. But the small problem was, who were these people? I knew the “Bulge Bracket Banks”, but in my head they were all mysterious, monolithic institutions, and anyone working there surely was some kind of wizard-genius, too busy and too important to talk to someone like me.

My dad had worked for the state’s utility company, and my mom was doing secretarial work at a non-profit – both worlds far removed from investing – so I felt like I was throwing rocks from the ground floor, trying to get the attention of a hiring manager on the 60th floor of an impenetrable organization. Without any guidance from behind the glass, I was too intimidated to see myself actually working there.

See, when you’re out-of-network, you’re also often out-of-luck for recruiting into these positions. I saw fellow schoolmates with family and friends in the industry getting recommendations, tips on acing the interviews, and lastly, the confidence that could only come with feeling like they were already a part of that world. This was my introduction to the problem that I would soon become obsessed with fixing – talent is evenly distributed, but opportunities are not.

Luckily, I kept on pulling on every thread I could get my hands on and finally found the right one. After exhausting the school’s career center, I made my way to the graduate career center, and even though I was not eligible for their help, a kind employee there, Mary, took pity on my cause and made an introduction that would begin to open up the world of finance. Mary connected me with Chris, an alumni who really knew his stuff, and after a few initial grillings to make sure I was as actually as passionate as I claimed, he became a career mentor who had a tremendous impact in helping me break into what would become my career for the next 7 years.

“Luckily” being the keyword. But what if Mary wasn’t in that day? How many candidates miss out on their dream career because they can’t get access? How many candidates don’t even have the good fortune I had, of knowing of a career path that inspires them, and that they should be trying to get access in the first place? Lastly, how many companies are missing out on the best talent because they happen to be outside of their small, exclusive network?

This is what many call “The Network Gap”, and I believe it’s by far the largest cause for that canyon separating evenly-distributed talent, from randomly-distributed opportunities. All business is driven by relationships to some extent, so it makes sense that hiring, which is exclusively about people, is very much about relationships. But what doesn’t make sense, is that we haven’t figured out a better way to create those relationships for the hardest working, best-fit candidates. At least, not yet…

People are willing and ready to help. They understand it takes a village, and they wouldn’t be where they are without their own supporters, now more than ever, with growing energy behind their companies’ DEI initiatives. Furthermore, relationships, including business relationships, have moved more and more online. These two trends combine to create what I call the perfect storm for totally re-wiring the traditional recruiting process.

Odyssey can now give talent acquisition the tools to create specially crafted relationships between their employees and relevant, diverse, out-of-network candidates. Teammates are easily mobilized for Odysseys, flexible 1:1’s, small-group chats, workshops, and info sessions. This creates equitable access, which means hiring the best, not most connected, candidates. That’s a beautiful start toward the world we envision at Odyssey, and it’s exactly that, only the start :)

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