For today’s professionals, finding a fulfilling career is like chasing a white whale. Those curious if there’s a career path better for them face a host of challenges including being judged solely off a piece of paper full of keywords and job titles. The impact is felt nationwide, but with Gen Z increasingly entering the workforce and millennials in the peak of their careers, these generations are ready for something new.
The change they are looking for may be just around the corner.
Paloma sprang from a kismet meeting in the University of Oregon’s executive MBA program and seeks to address those challenges. The brainchild of 2023 graduates Jana Chapman (right) and Alyssa Varela McKee (left), Paloma is on a mission to create a space for career-minded individuals to connect with companies based on things that actually matter while providing honest and transparent information, reducing unnecessary bias and assumptions. Yes, that means no more resumes, no more job titles, and no long application process.
Chapman and McKee developed Paloma while earning their degrees at the Oregon Executive MBA. Since then, it’s continued to evolve through feedback and community support, with a promising future that could transform the way we find work. Willamette Week interviewed Paloma’s founders to discuss their startup’s journey, what they learned at UO’s Portland-based executive MBA program and the future of hiring. The interview has been edited for clarity.
Can you tell us a bit about what led to you two teaming up and creating Paloma?
ALYSSA MCKEE: Fate, compatibility and a shared vision brought us together, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t credit the Oregon Executive MBA and their incredible matching skills. They placed Jana and me on the same year-one study team.
JANA CHAPMAN: Starting a business with someone is a big step. It’s not something I take lightly; but Alyssa and I share the same vision and passion, while having completely different life and work experiences. We’re able to have open conversations and be honest with each other.
AM: An early concept for Paloma surfaced during a conversation about our capstone project. Jana transformed that idea into Paloma. I’ve always believed in the vision and I served as sounding board and brainstorming partner throughout the capstone process. One day, she asked if I wanted to try to build it into a real company. Without hesitation, I said yes.
What led you to join the University of Oregon’s Executive MBA program in Portland?
JC: I’ve always known I wanted to pursue an MBA. But it was never just about the accreditation. I wanted to push myself and be surrounded by people who would challenge me. Our cohort did just that. We became extremely close, and I now have 43 allies working in different industries. They will always have my back, personally and professionally: that’s an amazing community to be part of.
AM: I was driven by a desire to strengthen my self-confidence, expand my skills and inspire others from underrepresented communities to keep forging ahead. As the first in my family to graduate college, I realized that earning a degree isn’t just a personal achievement, but a milestone that carries my parents’ and grandparents’ hopes and dreams. For me, education became more than a pursuit, it’s become a beacon of opportunity.
How do you think Paloma will change the hiring process?
AM: Our vision is to create a hiring process built on authenticity. That means no resume, keywords or job titles: removing any unnecessary biases. Paloma will create that space.
JC: No one wants to waste their time. The world has changed so much, but the resume has basically stayed the same. Job seekers spend countless hours filling out repetitive information online. People don’t want to waste their time on menial tasks that get no results. People are fed up and ready for something different.
How did the Executive MBA program help prepare you to start Paloma?
JC: The program isn’t just about learning material, it’s about gaining an understanding of the entire business landscape. For example, the capstone allowed us to apply what we learned in class to a real-world scenario. My capstone advisor Scott Grout is probably the main reason why I decided to pursue Paloma beyond the program. He was instrumental in guiding me through the process of building Paloma.
AM: So much of what I learned in the program has proven to be helpful, but what’s made a great impact are the long-lasting relationships with peers, faculty members, and advisors—including my capstone advisor Jim Coonan—who genuinely make me a better person. Their willingness to help goes beyond the classroom and program. They’ve helped us expand our network in the start-up community.
What’s next for Paloma?
JC: Our goal is to continue to refine the business model, prove the market fit and secure a large enough following for investment. At the moment, we are looking for professionals and companies to join our beta by signing up for our mailing list at findmypaloma.com.
AM: Help us build the future of hiring!
To learn more about Paloma, visit https://www.findmypaloma.com/about
This article originally appeared on the Willamette Week website.