It’s no secret that finding an internship is tough. As students, we strive to expand our network and gain work experience before graduation, but the sad reality is that there are limited resources to find these opportunities.
So, how do we find these opportunities?
Fortunately, our class was able to brainstorm a solution for this issue. Prior to pitching our idea to the class, we were able to build a foundation of knowledge pertaining to entrepreneurship and the industry of start-ups. From listening to podcasts, to reading in depth articles on the decline of traditional media, we gained a diverse perspective on building an idea from the ground up – and then pitching that idea to an audience.
Through surveys with students, and interviews with working professionals, we discovered that there is no lack in professionals eager to mentor students – but there was an absence of resources that connect these two entities. Our goal as a group was to find a way to connect students with professionals through a new website and service called Mentor Match.
Our idea began as an app that students could use to connect them with professionals in the same field, or area of the industry, that best fit their skills, interests and career aspirations. Our idea was to create an algorithm that worked to match students in the format of a traditional dating app style where students create profiles and can find mentors through mutual selection and based on their shared interests. In order to ensure that this idea would be successful, and useful to students and professionals, we created a survey and conducted in person interviews to test our theory.
After analyzing our results, we decided to make some minor changes to our original idea. From doing this, I learned that sometimes an idea requires trials and most will need minor changes or tweaks along the way. We made the decision to change our app to a full service website, which offered additional services to customers.
On the website, we offered video tutorials, event sign ups and our main feature: mentor matching. This made our range of services diverse, and incorporated some of the features that our indirect competitors offered on theirs. Our survey showed that most students lacked networking events with professionals, and many did not have a mentor in the field, so we knew that our product would be in high demand among collegiate customers. Additionally, professionals told us in interviews that they would love to work with students, especially those from a university in which they attended.
Prior to taking this course, I had minimal knowledge on the business aspect to creating a startup. Where does revenue come from? How can you take an idea off the ground with minimal funds in the beginning? Thanks to this class, we learned many ways to create revenue and manage finances when it comes to start ups.
Our group decided that our revenue would initially come from a university partnership. This partnership would be mutually beneficial to our company and their goals because it would be a benefit to students applying to the university when looking for jobs, and current students could also benefit from having mentors during their transition to full time positions.
Additionally, our revenue would come from hosting events and advertising on our website. Many of our ideas on revenue derived from ideas among indirect competitors, which also allowed us to see how other websites allocate funds to employees or events, and what we would have to do in the beginning to make money.
One thing I found interesting in our idea was the idea of growth. In our business plan, our service would adhere to primarily the communication arts & sciences sector of students at MSU, but the potential to reach wider audiences is definitely there. Once our idea gets off the ground, I think it can have the potential to be bought by other schools around the country, and the need for mentors will always exist.
Overall, I can’t think of a better class to have taken my senior year. Journalism, and communications as a whole, continues to change everyday. As young professionals, it’s our responsibility to keep up with this change. We have to learn new ways to use the skills we’ve developed at MSU to launch ideas, create change and make our industry a better place.
With everything I’ve learned over the course of this semester, I now know that this is possible. I can’t continue to brainstorm new ideas and take our product to the next level. The future of our jobs may not be certain, but I feel confident that with a great idea – anything is possible.