I had the opportunity to speak with Jeff Iacono, co-founder of CollegeJobConnect, over the phone last week. We discussed the past, present, and future of his company as it tries to bridge the gap between job-seeking college students and companies.
CollegeJobConnect is an online recruiting platform exclusively for undergraduates that allows students to research over 6000 different companies across the nation and apply to any that are hiring. Students can also create a profile and opt-in to allow employers to find and recruit them. On the flip side, companies are able to create a profile and add job listings. With all undergraduate postings in one place and with students from numerous campuses constantly interacting with the site, recruiting and travel costs are lowered and connectivity is increased.
In the summer of 2004, Jeff Iacono interned at Lehman Brothers as a trader. He quickly found himself doing much more than just finance. He voluntarily took on the role of intrapreneur (one who innovates within a corporation), writing software to solve problems that other traders were having – such as one that helped each trader better advertise their proposals to buy or sell stocks. After he graduated from Dartmouth in 2005, he returned to Lehman Brothers and was part of the Hedge Fund Consulting group, where his responsibilities included finding and incubating startup hedge funds.
In September 2008, at the height of the financial melt down, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. Jeff’s desk was subsequently dissolved two months later by the company’s purchaser, Barclays. This gave him the perfect opportunity to start something new. Jeff decided to leave the big city and headed to Dallas to start his own consulting firm.
Jeff founded The ElegantBuild Company (http://elegantbuild.com) and began reaching out to old contacts. He began picking up clients and eventually landed a major investment bank in NYC. While working to refine their recruiting process, he realized how expensive it was to staff, schedule, and travel to undergraduate career fairs and independent recruiting events. Due to this expense, the bank was only able to recruit from a small number of schools, ultimately limiting their reach and putting qualified students from other schools at a large disadvantage. Not only that, but such expenses could only be afforded by finance and consulting companies, so companies in other industries are alienated from the recruiting process altogether. This, he thought, must be changed.
Teaming up with his co-founder Paul Rosania, the two began thinking through the recruiting process to find a solution. They decided to make a website similar to that of a dating website, except for companies and undergraduates.
In 2010, CollegeJobConnect was born. A few months later Jeff and Paul were accepted into the first class of Tech Wildcatters, a startup accelerator based in Dallas. The Tech Wildcatters’s mentors provided guidance and helped Jeff and Paul fight their two-sided market by setting up meetings with various corporations. By the end of the 12-week program, CollegeJobConnect was working with 30-40 companies and it connected 50 undergraduates with interviews offers this past fall.
Now, CollegeJobConnect is working to expand to campuses nationwide. To do so, Jeff and Paul will be visiting campuses to learn more about student populations and their needs. From there, they will reach out to companies relevant to student demand. This research is what Jeff considers to be their largest differentiator from other sites.
On the employer side, Jeff believes that “any company that is interested in hiring some of the best and brightest talent out there either for internships of full-time opportunities should get in contact with us. To get a full undergraduate recruiting effort up and running, all we need is about 15 minutes, a company description, job postings, and logo. That’s really it.”