WORKING CLASS; Web Sites Connect Busy Students with Flexible Jobs

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), August 17, 2009 | Go to article overview
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WORKING CLASS; Web Sites Connect Busy Students with Flexible Jobs


Byline: Elise Anderson and William Ehart, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sean Fuller, a 20-year-old junior at the University of the District of Columbia, had been to job fairs before, but never so successfully as last fall.

Then in his second year at UDC, he was surprised to find an internship opportunity in sales with an independent agency for Aflac, the insurance company.

Being a sophomore at the time, getting an internship was something that would never happen, the Jamaica-born computer science major said.

The internship ended in June, but Mr. Fuller is now a certified Aflac trainee who participates in sales pitches to employers interested in offering disability and other insurance to their employees.

A successful sale can net him a hefty commission.

He first contacted Aflac through Zippyjobs.com, run by a local startup the university chose to power its own careers Web site.

Student Employment Council Inc., which administers Zippyjobs.com, arranged the fall job fair and invited Aflac.

UDC asked us to help attract more employers to the career and scholarship fair, said Jason Panda, a Georgetown Law graduate who co-founded Student Employment Council in 2006.

Sean had found an Aflac job on our Web site, and we arranged for a face-to-face meeting with a recruiter when they came in, he said.

Our Web site is really unique in that it is the first and only site that allows students to look for jobs based on a variety of tools such as proximity to campus, grade-point average and major, Mr. Panda said.

The site is highly targeted, we say it's like e-Harmony for job searches. We don't just want to present you with a list of 10,000 jobs it will take you hours to go through.

Zippyjobs.com also offers a job concierge service, where students who aren't finding the job they want can ask Student Employment Council to help.

Mr. Panda founded the company with Khalil Jai Hokimi, a former executive with D.C. educational software company Blackboard Inc.

Finding a job with flexible hours that is close to home or school can be difficult and time-consuming, and that has fostered a new generation of job sites such as Zippyjobs.com that are free for students to use and affordable for employers.

When 21-year old Laura Golden, a student at Hillsdale College in Michigan, started looking for a part-time job during the school year to offset the cost of tuition, it was a nightmare, she said.

One of her scholarships required her to work eight hours a week. It doesn't sound like much - but finding any work is difficult in this economy.

Miss Golden scrambled to try to find a number of odd jobs such as baby-sitting, tutoring and working at a child-care center.

It would have been really nice to use [a Web site to find a job] because I was really struggling for a while, she said.

Many other students find themselves in the same position, seeking part-time employment both during the school year and while on vacation.

Thai Nguyen, chief executive of Jobaphiles.com and a recent graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., said sites such as his are essential for those students in the middle, who are not eligible for financial aid.

Jobaphiles.com allows students to post profiles and resumes and employers to post openings and encourages interaction between the two. Students can include salary bids, indicating the amount of compensation they are seeking.

Mike Swells, director of marketing and public relations for RISE, a Boston nightclub popular with students, recently posted an opening on the site and was impressed by the responses.

Mr. Swells, who is seeking to hire a club promoter, said Jobaphiles is the perfect resource because it caters to the college population his business attracts.

Jobaphiles lets students find us, so once we describe what we're looking for, they're only going to submit an application if they're really interested and meet our requirements, he said.

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