Your first job during or soon after college can shape your life. A classic Wharton story tells how Jon Huntsman (for whom Huntsman Hall is named), upon graduation, began selling eggs which eventually led to his developing the first plastic egg carton, and further on, the Huntsman Container Corporation.
JJ Fliegelman, W’11, co-founded WayUp (formerly Campus Job) with fellow Penn alum Liz Wessel, C’12, in July 2014 to make it a little easier for students to find meaningful work.
Today, JJ as CTO, and Liz as CEO, have developed WayUp to become a leading job marketplace that matches students and recent grads from over 6,300 colleges and universities with hundreds of thousands of companies. WayUp’s users can search for part-time jobs, internships and entry-level roles from thousands of employers — from Fortune 500 companies like Google, Disney and Capital One, to small startups. To date, the company has helped millions of people get hired. I asked JJ to share how WayUp approached this opportunity.
What observations did you and Liz have before founding WayUp?
Companies visited campuses to recruit, an expensive exercise. Second, online recruiting technology companies just collected as many resumes as possible, and then asked employers to filter through them, a cumbersome process.
From the students’ perspective, many job search websites show you every possible job available, which isn’t that much different from going to Google and typing, “I want to find a job.” It’s a lot of work for students to visit multiple websites, look at each job opportunity and figure out, “Is this a quality job? Will it hold my interest? Do I have the skills and experience to perform the job? Is it still available?” Once you figure that out, you must fill out these forms with pages of questions. In addition, it’s difficult to filter for opportunities that you are qualified for, such as jobs requiring multiple years of experience.
What is the WayUp solution?
We ask our employers to think about the qualifications needed for the role, and then we ask our candidates to think seriously about what qualifications they possess that make them a good fit for the role. We use what we know about our client companies and what we know about our users, based on their majors, skills, schools, grades and what they are interested in, to build a robust matching system. We show users only those jobs that they are qualified to perform, and that are worth their time and effort.
How does WayUp work with employers to help them articulate their message?
Through our long-term relationships with employers, we help them learn how to speak to students. We read their job descriptions and suggest, “Hey, we know you wrote these criteria on your job description, but you may want to consider these other job qualification criteria.” What’s cool is that we enable companies to see that they can, and should, expand their reach beyond the top five or 10 universities. In the past, they said, “We will budget our recruiting time here. That’s what we’ve always done.” With WayUp, employers can digitally visit every campus, without needing to send a representative to the campus first. Employers can input whatever criteria they want, and receive high-quality candidates who meet the company’s standard.
Younger employees tend to stay for only a few years at their jobs. When they are looking for their next opportunity, do they return to WayUp?
Absolutely. We’ve had college freshman use our platform to find campus rep roles, come back as sophomores and juniors to look for summer internships, and then come back again when it’s time to look for a full-time opportunity as a senior or recent grad. In fact, as of May 2017, 35% of WayUp’s user base will have already graduated from college!
How do students find WayUp?
When you get a job, it’s awesome, right? It is a big deal. We try to build a relationship with users, so when they do get that job, they naturally tell their peers about WayUp. We also have college brand ambassadors across the country spreading the message about WayUp.
For executives, job searching is based on their networks. Is it different for students?
Recruiting through referrals is good. However, it also creates a non-diverse workforce. The question I ask is, “How can we use technology in recruiting to go beyond those boundaries, and find great people efficiently who will bring in diverse viewpoints?”
How do you see the job market?
The economy is stronger than it’s been in years, and thousands of companies are looking to recruit students and recent grads. Employers like Capital One, Lockheed Martin and Unilever are using us to hire, and we are excited for 2017 and beyond!
Any job hiring tips?
Go to WayUp, that’s No. 1! It’s free for users, and one in three of our candidates who use our website get hired.
Don’t give up! Hiring and getting hired are hard. Many of the reasons that you don’t get hired have nothing to do with you. I don’t know anyone who didn’t eventually find what they were looking for, if they knew what they wanted and persisted, and were brave enough to take the plunge, once they had found it.
What did you learn at Wharton that you are still using today?
Through the group work and presentations, I learned how to effectively lead and participate in a meeting, and how to dive into a project with unclear goals.
Negotiations and the Literature of Success (both with Professor Richard Shell) and Comparative Capitalist Systems (HIST107), the Huntsman Program, taught me about businesses around the world, how to negotiate, and how to understand myself.
At Wharton, I worked closely with brilliant people who would look at the same text as I did and come to completely different conclusions. It was a motivating experience to have such open-minded, curious and passionate people around me.
What was your path from Wharton upon graduation?
I felt the same pressure as everyone else to plan out a career, but within two days, I booked a one-way plane ticket to Spain. My plan was to not have a plan for an entire year! I thought that, if I could figure out a way to make money and survive for a full year in foreign countries without any kind of plan, I’d probably be able to make it in my career as well, no matter what happened.