The Dawn of ClearlyNext

mm Elliott Brown

Some years ago, as a college senior, I remember that ritualistic panic about entering “the real world”. Like most of my friends, I had no clue how to begin my career.

A wise career counselor offered the simplest of ideas. She suggested that informational interviews should be my first career move.

“What’s an informational interview?”

She handed me a list of alumni and said, “Pick a few that look interesting and interview them about their jobs.”

My first conversation was with the Director of a community foundation, and the work he did excited and inspired me. He told me about the different types of nonprofits his foundation supported. Then he introduced me to a few of them.

I interviewed them, and they introduced me to others and before I knew it, I had interviewed 50 people, each with a distinct and interesting story to tell. It turns out that most people like to share their expertise. It’s easy and it feels good to talk with someone who is eager to learn. Nearly everyone was helpful, insightful, generous and eager to have me stay in touch on my journey into “the real world”.

Informational interviews have been a mainstay for me ever since. Most of the key opportunities in my life have come from conversations like that. In fact, most job opportunities in “the real world” come about that way – not from the best job application or resume. People like to hire people they know. And people who know eager, interested people like to refer them to people in their network who are hiring.

Over the course of my own career, I’ve met thousands of people who were stuck and didn’t know what to do with their careers—or even how to begin to figure it out. To me, it’s simple: start with conversations. After years of watching people struggle with that key step, it occurred to me that, “there MUST be an app for that!” It turns out there wasn’t.

So began the ClearlyNext chapter of my life. We’ve built the app and already have a network of professionals excited to share their expertise. The app walks people through simple, proven steps to discover what’s next, and then it provides access to our network, which is growing bigger and better every day.

I continue to swear by the conversation as a powerful tool, but the conversations I’m having today are with people who are using our app. I am eager to learn about what works and what we can improve. The conversation, sharing of expertise and ideas, is a way of life, I’m thrilled and honored to be able to share it.

Check us out at and let me know what you think!

Elliott Brown is the Founder & CEO of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >