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Excelerate: career consultation amidst a contagion

Rotman Commerce grads found mentorship, networking service
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Harveen Sidhu and Sarbjot Gill co-founded Excelerate after graduating in April. COURTESY OF EXCELERATE
Harveen Sidhu and Sarbjot Gill co-founded Excelerate after graduating in April. COURTESY OF EXCELERATE

Despite June’s gloomy graduation, two new graduates still managed to launch their careers this summer — and they’re looking to help others do the same.

Sarbjot Gill and Harveen Sidhu, both 2020 graduates of Rotman Commerce, founded a career consultancy platform named Excelerate in July. The startup connects current students and new graduates with experienced professionals to help the former plan their careers.

The Varsity interviewed Sidhu and Gill to discuss the origin and business model of Excelerate, as well as the future of the platform.

Customer experience is key

Excelerate’s services are split into six categories: Breaking In; Perfecting Your Application; Practical Workshops; Postsecondary Engagement; Things You Should Know; and Find a Partner. Its programs and consultants aim to help students explore their own industry while providing suggestions and resources.

“Our consultants have navigated the challenges of breaking into various industries, and most importantly, have done it recently and are ready to help you do the same,” they wrote. “[They] offer accurate, timely, and relevant advice, and are available at a moment’s notice to help students plan their careers.”

From their perspective, Excelerate’s strength is in its rigorous selection of professional consultants who aim to provide personalized consultations specific to each participant’s situation. “We recognize that customer service, relationships with your clients, and results are of utmost importance,” they wrote.

They explained that Excelerate’s programs exist to build self-sufficiency in participants. “Beyond the initial consultation, we give you all the tips and tools on how to apply yourself critically such that you can think for yourself and be self-sufficient,”

“We’ll always be here to help, but we pride ourselves on teaching you how to fish, not fishing for you.”

An ambitious blueprint

Currently, all of Excelerate’s services are free and are anticipated to remain free for as long as the pandemic hinders job markets. Accordingly, Excelerate has yet to turn a profit. “Our biggest goal right now is to expand awareness across southern Ontario,” they wrote. “We’re also very invested in learning about more avenues for exposure and continuing to raise awareness about Excelerate.”

In the short term, Excelerate will focus on perfecting current services. The team plans on expanding its current team of career consultants to include experts in more disciplines, and generally improving their services by listening to user feedback.

In the long term, they want Excelerate to expand beyond a single medium. “As avenues like blogging and podcasts gain more traction, we’re interested in seeing how we can take advantage of them to deepen our service offering and reach,” they wrote. “We’re also really excited about ed-tech, and the opportunities it presents to help people at scale in both academic and professional environments.”

A platform to help people

Sidhu and Gill — good friends since their first-year orientation — graduated into an economy ravaged by the pandemic. They noticed many people in their network suffering from the depressed job market and saw the opportunity to help others while founding their own enterprise.

“Having gone through university, you realize that many people help you out along the way. Whether that be with classwork, extra-curriculars, or landing your first internship, it’s more than likely that someone helped you succeed.”

“Recognizing this, we knew that we could pay it forward and also make a positive impact. Be that person or mentor remotely, to anyone, anywhere.”

Editor’s Note (September 15): This article has been updated to correct that the emailed response was on behalf of both Sidhu and Gill.