Sanjeev Agrawal is not prone to regret. But he sometimes wonders what might have been had fate dealt him a different card at a key moment in the game of life: his final months at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"Had someone told me about a little company called Cisco Systems, whose needs at the time matched my skills, I might be retired by now," Agrawal, 44, says with a clipped laugh. "But (the management consulting firm) McKinsey & Company came to my school, I listened to what they had to say, and that was that."
Now, a few decades and a number of tech-centric jobs later, Agrawal is on a mission to make that post-college employment hunt less subject to happenstance. He says that where once campus career centers held students' futures in their hands, today, the Web should feed myriad leads that mesh with a range of backgrounds, experiences and dreams.
Collegefeed.com, launched last spring with $1.8 million, hopes to combine the functionality of Facebook with the seriousness of Linked-In. Much as Facebook took root at Harvard, Agrawal and his co-founder, onetime Microsoft product manager Aman Khanna, are working out agreements with a few major universities to give the site a solid runway.
Agrawal knows his team faces hurdles, largely in terms of getting college officials and students to embrace yet another social-networking platform. But he is convinced there is room for a site with the narrowly defined goal of connecting students sooner (as early as freshman year) with a broader range of employers.
"Our message to students is brand, network and connect," says Agrawal, in a T-shirt with his company's logo in an office park, where he and a dozen other employees hammer out Collegefeed's future. "I like to say it takes a village to help students find a job, and we want to be that village."
Strip away the founder's genial hype, and you're left with Collegefeed's simple, yet compelling approach. It starts with an easy-to-navigate home page that asks students to summarize themselves in three categories: "About Me," "Top 3 Companies" and "Work Samples."
The short bio combines personal blurbs ("I'm a huge Springsteen fan") with vital scholastic details ("I'm fluent in many programming languages"). "Work Samples" echoes Agrawal's belief that "while students certainly can't be expected to have much job experience, it's important they lay out what their passions are and then back it up with evidence." (continued...)
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