Sokanu

Heroku App Helps People Find their Best Career Path

Sokanu’s career assessment platform matches people to careers, education, training, and jobs

“What should I do with my life?” Our career path is one of life’s great journeys. Most of us want to use the breadth of our skills and talent and realize our full potential. At the same time, we want to feel a sense of purpose and contribute to something that we find meaningful. With so many opportunities in today’s job market, it can be challenging to choose the right path.

In 2012, the founders of Vancouver-based Sokanu wanted to help people find their true calling in life. They set out to build the world’s best career test that would match people to their perfect career, and make the journey not only painless, but also pleasurable. They have since extended their mission to help people also find the right job, and if required, connect to education or training resources.

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A Comprehensive Career Platform

Sokanu built an adaptive career assessment engine that leverages work psychology and psychometric measurements to match users in real-time with possible career paths. Completing the circle, the platform displays additional resources for each career to help users make a decision or take next steps. This may include deeper information about the career, local education or training, and current job openings.

The platform includes a machine learning component that continually improves the assessment algorithms based on user input. An in-house editorial staff develops and curates a vast career content database with over 130 million pieces of data on over 3000 careers. Sokanu is currently expanding its partner base to integrate job applications and education registration into the platform, as well as to allow companies to screen and recruit the candidates from their user base. The company also licenses a white-labeled version of Sokanu to university career departments, corporations, and government organizations.

Real-time Career Matching on Heroku

Sokanu started on Linode and AWS, however the engineering team found that they were spending too much time on DevOps tasks. As a product-focused organization, they wanted to spend less time on infrastructure and more time iterating their app. So they chose the platform as a service (PaaS) approach and migrated most of Sokanu to Heroku, including the web app and API, but kept some machine learning computations on AWS.

We migrated our app from Linode and AWS to Heroku so our team could focus on developing a smarter platform and better user experience, rather than spending so much time on DevOps. Saeid Fard, Head of Product, Sokanu

At times, Sokanu experiences massive bursts of traffic. For example, universities encourage students to take the assessment at the beginning of the school year, or a large company may have its entire workforce take the assessment on the same day. Not only is this type of traffic computationally heavy, but also the sheer number of requests leads to a cascade of calculations for the app’s worker dynos. The Sokanu team has found it easy to seamlessly scale their app on Heroku, and use Heroku Add-on Adept Scale to automate the process.

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Scaling platform resources up and down to handle traffic fluctuations is much easier and more seamless on Heroku than on AWS. It’s even easier with the Adept Scale add-on, which automates dyno scaling. Saeid Fard, Head of Product, Sokanu

The Sokanu platform is built in Python using Django, which was the language of choice for their engineers. The team chose Heroku Postgres as their main data store, with Heroku Redis, RedisGreen, and MemCachier for caching. A number of other Heroku Add-ons extend the Sokanu app, including: Cloudinary for image hosting, Sentry for real-time crash reporting, Codeship for continuous integration, New Relic APM and Librato for performance monitoring, Pusher for real-time notifications, IronMQ and RabbitMQ Bigwig for message queuing, and Logentries for log management.

Expanding Business, Growing Team

As their business grows, Sokanu has been hiring new engineers to expand the platform. Running their app on Heroku has made it easy to both evaluate candidates and onboard new team members. In a short time, they can get someone set up with a local instance of the app and live test environment, enabling them to start coding right away. This process also supports external contributors who are working on other aspects of the platform, such as the psychometrics or assessment questions.

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With Heroku, it's easy and quick to get a local environment set up for any reason, such as onboarding new team members, evaluating candidates, supporting business contributors, or prototyping new ideas. Saeid Fard, Head of Product, Sokanu

Over the next year, Sokanu will focus on growth—more users, more partners, new business models. All will serve their mission to connect people to their best career path, and take next steps on their journey towards a fulfilling work life.

Are you building a complex assessment engine? Heroku gives the Sokanu team the freedom to focus on developing their product rather than spending time on DevOps. For more information, contact Heroku today.

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