U student creates website to link students to startup companies

Students could find an easier way to work with smaller, local companies

Kristina Busch

Not all students can expect to work for companies like General Mills or 3M right after graduation, and forging connections to find those types of jobs isn’t easy.

To help ease that transition, a University of Minnesota senior is developing a website that will connect students to startup companies.

Start MSP, a website created by entrepreneurial management senior Martin Walker, will function as a job board that links student profiles to prospective startup companies.

“This summer I moved back to

Minneapolis from Chicago,” he said, “and I talked to people from startup companies about how hard it is to connect students to these jobs.”

John Stavig, Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship professional director in the Carlson School of Management, said startup companies use GoldPASS, an online resource, to find students, but said it is hard for students to notice startup companies when there are many opportunities at larger businesses on the site.

“[GoldPASS] is not really user-friendly or a way for startup companies to stand out, so they don’t really like it,” Stavig said.

Walker said the Twin Cities area has the most Fortune 500 companies per capita, so it is easier for students to be exposed to larger companies.

And the working environment of those businesses goes against what many graduates are seeking, he said.

“The difference is the amount of responsibility,” he said. “Larger companies are more structured.”

Recent University English graduate Cassandra King said she was looking for work as she neared graduation, and relied on websites to find job positions.

But she said the only open spots at startup companies came to her attention by word of mouth or professors and classmates.

King said she likes the fact that startup companies often have new ways of running the company and encourage brainstorming from their employees.

By working for startup companies, Stavig said students have more access to business leaders and work independently on multiple issues rather than waiting to be assigned a specific task.

He said the Center for Entrepreneurship connects 45 students to startup companies every year. Still, these types of companies typically don’t offer large salaries and the prestige of a well-known organization, which deters many graduates.

Students should try to work in a variety of environments to pinpoint the type of company that best suits their needs, Stavig said.

For Walker’s website to be successful in matching student needs, Stavig said, he will need to grow demand.

“More than anything I want this website to be a tool to help kids discover the full range of possibilities that are available to them for work after they graduate,” Walker said. “Hopefully doing so can expedite the process of figuring out where people fit in after school, and help them avoid taking a job that would make them miserable.”