LinkedIn (s LNKD) may be just fine for job hunters who have already been to the rodeo, so to speak. But for many college students with barely a credential to their name, higher-stakes socializing on the professional networking site can be intimidating.
That’s why CollegeFeed, launched publicly on Tuesday, has built a social platform to connect college students and companies. It helps students showcase their skills and provides a Facebook-like newsfeed for keeping networking and job opportunities front and center.
“LinkedIn is good for someone who has learned how to ride a bike,” said CollegeFeed founder and CEO Sanjeev Agrawal. “But when you know how to ride a bike or swing a tennis racket, you forget how hard it was when you were beginning…We believe that [providing a career marketplace] requires going the extra mile for students, rather than saying we’ve got this site where you can hang your resume.”
Since March, the site has been beta tested by students at Stanford, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon. This week, it will open up to students and employers nationwide.
On the site, students are guided through the process of creating a personal profile of skills and experiences, as well as selecting companies that most interest them. From there, the site provides Netflix-like recommendations for other companies that might be of interest, job opportunities and other kinds of career-related content.
Through virtual networking events like online speaker series, students can listen to industry veterans share their experiences. And they’re offered the opportunity to win awards and show off their skills through employer-sponsored challenges on the site.
The point, said Agarwal, a former global head of product marketing at Google (s GOOG), is to help kickstart college students’ careers by pushing opportunities to them, rather than by forcing them to search for or seek out alumni and opportunities they probably don’t even know exist.
And for employers, who in CollegeFeed’s estimation spend up to $10,000 trying to fill empty positions, it’s a way to market themselves while getting the chance to connect with specific students. Companies like eBay (s EBAY) can pay for various levels of placement and engagement on the site, including branded pages, innovation challenges and the ability to send content to specific students.
Last year, LinkedIn described college students as its fastest-growing demographic, and the company actively reaches out to college students through academic institutions and career experts. But other companies are quickly trying to move in to capture the college crowd. With funding from Google Ventures, MindSumo launched earlier this year to provide an online marketplace of mini competitions sponsored by companies and organizations. It gives college students a chance to show off their skills while giving companies access to new ideas and talent. AfterCollege last year updated its career site with a new social layer meant to attract college students. And TechStars-backed EverTrue is targeting colleges with a mobile app platform to connect alumni and support fundraising.