Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, August 6, 2012

Social networking startup brings resumes to life for college students

A new career-focused social networking website is a first-of-its-kind platform for college students and recent graduates to showcase their work and connect directly with hiring companies.

Seelio, from "see" and "portfolio," was co-founded by a U-M entrepreneurship instructor, and its public beta site opens today. Portfolios are available to anyone with a ".edu" email address, not just at U-M. Companies also can create accounts to recruit students.

 
 

This is a screen shot of a profile on the new career-focused social networking website, Seelio. Click here to go to a public beta version of the site.

The site's developers say it fills a gap in the landscape of online portfolio and career-focused networking sites, especially for the entry-level demographic.

Seelio is the first site to meld dynamic online work portfolios with a network of other job seekers and recruiters. The site mashes the professionalism of LinkedIn with the interactivity potential of Facebook and the attractive display of Pinterest to create a dedicated space to celebrate work. It's for students of any stripe, not just artists.

In addition to traditional resume information, users can post the fruits of their labor, such as academic papers, computer-aided designs, art projects, lesson plans, or photos or video of themselves doing the work or hobby they love. Employers can create similar pages to convey their company culture and post job openings. Both can follow one another and interact. Job seekers can apply with one click.

"Instead of sending a stale, black-and-white resume, Seelio lets you bring yourself to life and present yourself in a more holistic way," says co-founder Moses Lee, assistant director for student ventures at the College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship. "It can help college students get discovered. This is really important, especially in this tough economy, because they don't have a lot of job experience. But many have done amazing work as a student."

Lee and co-founders David Jsa and Jerry Wang, all U-M alums, soft-launched the platform's progenitor truApp in January exclusively to U-M students. Within six months, it amassed 1,500 students and 150 organizations including Quicken Loans, Teach for America, Compuware, Under Armour and Airtime. The site placed more than 40 students and recent grads in internships or full-time positions.

One of them is Lydia Muwanga, who received a master's degree from the School of Information in April. She used truApp to land her "dream job" as an information architect at SapientNitro, a global marketing and technology firm.

"The first thing that stood out to us about her was her mosaic-style profile photo and the fact that she wrote about being an artist," says Kati Llewellyn, creative recruiter with SapientNitro.

A quick scan of Muwanga's profile page reveals that she spent time in Italy learning to draw, and her personal goal is to "make the world better." Her highlighted works include a Post-It note mural inspired by the Fibonacci sequence and a prototype redesign of an online scheduling system.

Llewellyn appreciates that the platform lets her explore candidates "from a 360-perspective."

"It helps us more accurately target candidates, allowing us to differentiate between, say, human-computer interface students who love research, versus those who love wireframing," she says.

Muwanga says the site is a revolutionary change in the job-hunting process. Once she got her profile up, she applied for five jobs in 10 minutes. Within 24 hours, she had heard back from three employers.

"It's like inviting recruiters into my living room, sitting down with them, and showing them the story behind my work that led to the final product," Muwanga says. "Because employers are already members of the site, it cut out a lot of work for me. Submitting the application with just one click was icing on the cake."

The site has tremendous potential, says Chris Bogdan, a cellular and molecular biology junior whose profile starts, "I study science because I think it's awesome."

"I think it will take over LinkedIn over time because it is a more user-friendly platform that really gives users a chance to express themselves," Bogdan says.

Lee graduated with a master's degree from the business school in 2003. Jsa and Wang are civil engineering master's graduates from 2008 and 2009, respectively.