Collegefeed launched today, offering a social platform for students to connect with each other and employers long before the career fairs and short interviews begin. The service is designed for college kids who do not have the experience yet to have any meaningful use of LinkedIn and need to connect in different ways than people already in the workforce.
The platform offers a Facebook-like news feed where students can access tuition help, job opportunities, interview-preparation help and access to alumni and mentors. Collegefeed seeks to “teach, tell and guide” instead of leaving students with search as the default when looking for a job. Relevant information, based on students’ interests, is “pushed” to a student’s news feed. The information might include what jobs the person may like; alumni to connect with; available internships or potential awards the student may be qualified to win.
The platform will connect employers with students as they progress through school as opposed to forcing decisions through short interviews, career fairs and campus visits. They do this by bringing together a network of employers and alumni who can get students access to well-paying jobs with the Valley’s leading technology companies. It will also offer competitions for students to vie for awards and help pay for college tuition.
“Early career profiles need to be very different from late-career profiles. They need to focus on portfolios / class projects / thesis work, internships, etc.,” said Sanjeev Agrawal, founder, CEO of Collegefeed in an email interview. “Agrawal was formerly the product marketing chief at Google. “Very hard for these kids to stand out on other networks. Our competitions and awards program is meant to precisely help these students show off their skills.”
The service is going into beta with three Silicon Valley schools: Carnegie Mellon SV, Stanford, and the University of California, Berkeley. Organizers say the service will go nationwide by the end of 2013.
Collegefeed will market employer-branded pages that give them a presence on the site, Agrawal said. This will allow employers to connect in a news feed setting where students tend to gather.
Companies seeking college graduates have relied for the past 20 years on well-worn tactics. Recruiting can get expensive, and so employers usually do the bare minimum. If they do go to colleges, then it’s usually for individual interviews. The result: 40 percent of employers who try this method report they can’t fill early career jobs.
“We make many more employers relevant to many more students,” he said. “Everyone wants to work at Google and Facebook, but we can be smart about saying ‘If you want jobs in mobile payments or big data etc’ you have many choices. Even traditional companies like Safeway become interesting because they have had ‘big data’ before some of these newer companies existed and are working on some really interesting problems.”
Agrawal said competitors do not provide all that Collegefeed offers. He said some examples are, “Mindsumo (online challenges for college kids), Zinch (financial awards) Readyforce (tech/startup recruitment), Branchout (networking on Facebook) and BraveNewTalent (online professional networking).” Important to note that BraveNewTalent recently did a pivot.
Collegefeed is a smart play. It looks like it will provide a more holistic and complete service for students and employers, opening both to opportunities they did not know existed.
But is this something LinkedIn can kill if it decided to move into this market? Collegefeed has its work cut out for it with such a major competitor. Data analytics increasingly provide LinkedIn with ways to offer new services. Features that Collegefeed offers might be incrementally added to LinkedIn and packaged as a service. In the meantime, Collegefeed will need to gather as much interaction data as it can to provide a level of personalized service that will be critical to maintain.
The need for qualified people is increasingly a challenge for employers. Services such as Collegefeed will become increasingly valuable as companies modernize their approaches to job recruitment.