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The Grind co-hosts Warren Langford (left) and Marc Casale (right) in the studio. (The Grind Photo)

A few years ago, Marc Casale started tutoring college students. Casale is a longtime consultant in the tech world, focusing on social impact, and he loved having the chance to work with young, inspiring people just starting down their career path.

But it also made him realize something that he had never through about before: Professional life is really, really hard, especially for first-generation college students or others who have additional challenges.

Casale also saw something else: There was no place for these students to turn, no real resources for them to use. Figuring out your professional life can be very lonely.

So Casale set out to fix that. Casale is the co-host and founder of The Grind, a podcast that follows four students participating in the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship through their professional journey. He’s also our guest on this episode of the GeekWire podcast.

The Grind draws huge inspiration from the students Casale works with. All of the students in the podcast are WSOS recipients, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds and all of them studying STEM. When one of them faces a particularly tough obstacle or hard decision, it usually ends up as a podcast episode.

The Grind follows four students, including Amina (above), as they navigate being a first-generation college student and trying to figure out their professional lives. (The Grind Photo via Instagram)

Casale talks to the students, brings in outside “experts” and gets advice from people further on in their careers. He also debunks — or in some cases, upholds — conventional wisdom and explores new ways of thinking about professional life at a time when the workplace itself is also rapidly changing.

The whole goal is to have a real discussion about how we work, and to make that process less lonely and intimidating for the students and listeners alike.

Although it was originally designed for early-career professionals, Casale said The Grind can be interesting and helpful for almost anyone.

He said working on the podcast has helped him become a better manager, particularly thinking about diversity in workplaces. For example, Casale said he now thinks more deeply about exactly what terms like “cultural fit” mean and how the design of the hiring process can leave certain people at a huge disadvantage.

A quick note: The Washington State Opportunity Scholarship is the benefactor of the annual Geeks Give Back campaign, hosted by GeekWire and Bank of America. Our current campaign is aiming to raise $1 million to supports STEM scholars before Dec. 8. You can donate here and find other ways to get involved with WSOS, including mentoring students, here.

Listen to the episode above or download the MP3 here. Get every episode using this RSS feed, or subscribe in Apple PodcastsStitcher, Google Play or wherever you get podcasts.

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