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2013: The year of Silicon Valley’s half-hearted diversity push

 

The past year has been fraught with debate about Silicon Valley's inability to match rhetoric about meritocracy with regional employment of women and minorities.

The past year has been fraught with debate about Silicon Valley‘s inability to match rhetoric about meritocracy with regional employment of women and minorities.

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About eight months ago, it looked like 2013 might finally be the year that Silicon Valley business leaders would act to rectify their somewhat sorry records on corporate diversity. It looks like we’ll have to wait for 2014 to see how talk is translated into action.

To break the nagging diversity problem down by the numbers, more than 90 percent of startup founders are men, and 82 percent of founders are white. A recent analysis pitted the most valuable public companies in Silicon Valley against the S&P 100, and researchers found that 98 percent of companies in the S&P 100 have at least one woman director, while only 56 percent of the 150 public tech and life science companies studied can say the same.

Sure, past years have seen rare think pieces on the root causes of minority under-representation in the tech industry. But this year the conversation shifted (briefly) to the more concrete examples of how the continued failure to inject a broader range of perspectives into Silicon Valley business impacts the bottom line. Tech user bases are diverse, and some research shows that executive diversity could boost the bottom line.

So in the absence of improved numbers, perhaps the most relevant development in 2013 is the tech industry’s move toward publicizing concern about a dearth of qualified talent — another factor indicating that Silicon Valley’s over-reliance on white and Asian males may not be sustainable.

While tech spokespeople have been happy to talk about how much they value diversity, in theory, a central fact remains: Data-driven, well-funded Silicon Valley companies still haven’t done much to back up the talk with results.

Beyond one-off corporate partnerships with minority-focused organizations and recruiting efforts with undisclosed budgets, it’s difficult to say what impact, if any, the diversity push during the last year actually had on the makeup of Silicon Valley’s workforce.

A central irony for Silicon Valley in 2013: Though the year could easily be deemed the year of Big Data, it’s a nagging lack of comprehensive workforce data that makes it impossible to evaluate just how stratified Silicon Valley has become — much less to measure any progress on diversity issues. Companies aren’t required to disclose the demographic makeup of their employees, leaving the public with isolated, caveat-filled reports that show Silicon Valley lagging behind the rest of the business world.

Missed opportunity

Amid the noise — a flood of diversity-themed events, long-winded media articles and promotional press releases on the topic of women and minorities in Silicon Valley — a lot did end up happening this year.

In March 2013, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg released her now-culturally-ingrained book on the workplace gender gap, “Lean In.”

The response from the tech industry was swift and, at least at first, emphatic: CEOs like Cisco’s John Chambers professed that their worldviews were altered; designated corporate diversity departments were bolstered or established; the Lean In Foundation created its own social network.

The even more galling lack of racial and ethnic diversity atop Silicon Valley companies — especially for Latinos and African Americans — also became a topic of discussion, though far less often than the gender gap.

But the lame sexist jokes continued. Twitter’s all-male, whitewashed pre-IPO board incited waves of criticism, though the company is far from an anomaly.

The dearth of women and minorities also doesn’t only permeate white collar tech jobs. The number of women in cleantech jobs — covering everything from energy IT workers to electricians — is disproportionately low. Overall income for black and Hispanic Silicon Valley residents, we learned this year, also declined 18 percent and 5 percent, respectively, from 2009 to 2011.

Most disconcerting is the lack of diverse job candidates in the tech talent pipeline — in particular the declining number of women and minorities studying computer science — which does not bode well for future change.

Will persistence pay off?

It’s important to note that there are bright spots in the gloomy realm of Silicon Valley diversity.

By all accounts, progress has been made from past decades, when the overall workforce was much more dominated by white, male executives.

This year alone, we saw wealthy investors experimenting with their portfolios in a bid to advance women. Sheryl Sandberg herself reported a spike in anecdotal accounts of women emboldened to seek better pay for quality work.

To combat the lack of employee data released by Silicon Valley companies, one online effort even seeks to crowdsource information about the number of women working at various tech companies.

Mark Taguchi, a former technology executive, now serves as West Coast managing director of minority professional development group MLT (formerly Management Leadership for Tomorrow). He told me that penetrating Silicon Valley’s tightly-knit tech world remains a challenge for the uninitiated for a simple reason.

“People operate in tribes,” he said. “They have groups of people that they learn to trust, that they work with, that they like.”

Whether that entrenched mentality will continue to win out over Silicon Valley’s professed penchant for meritocracy is the biggest question facing the region heading into 2014.

 

 

 

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2013′s 15 best-read stories: Marissa Mayer’s funeral home, Elon Musk’s apology…

End of 2013 year

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If I were to guess, I’d say a lot of readers were looking for new jobs in 2013: Many of our most-read stories of the year had to do with perks packages, best-paying gigs, and where to find the region’s happiest employees.

The stories you also read the most: Anything about impactful, top CEOs (Yahoo exec Marissa Mayer and Tesla head Elon Musk were two of your favorites), and the fresh-faced up-and-comers you wanted to add to your Roledex.

Below, see the top 15 stories of the year, ranked by your clicks.

1. Our readers’ No. 1 pick this year was a look at Silicon Valley’s most successful women of 2013 – the leaders of giant tech firms, savvy entrepreneurs, top lawyers and execs in healthcare and education.Meet Silicon Valley’s most influential women here. (Note: This is an annual special, and if you have great candidates for next year, let us know.)

2. This story highlighted the companies everyone wants to work at – the ones with ridiculous perks and inspirational leaders. Read “Silicon Valley’s 7 happiest companies (and what employees secretly say about them).”

3. Harvard prof Clayton Christensen wrote the book on tech disruption. Here he explains the real threats to Apple, Tesla, VCs and academia: “Disruption guru Christensen: Why Apple, Tesla, VCs, academia may die.”

4-5: Speaking of perks, Facebook and Google have a lot of them (an in-house ergonomics team anyone?). An inside look at the everyday perks at these two companies took the No. 4 and 5 spots. Read “Facebook’s 12 most fantastic employee perks” and “Google’s 10 best perks: Cars, sleep pods — you name it”.

6. Our readers love executive news, especially when it’s unexpected. Like when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bought a funeral home for a big chunk of change: “Marissa Mayer buys funeral home, report says. Price? $11.2 million.”

7. Despite Silicon Valley’s skyrocketing rental rates and crazy awful commutes, the region has some amazing perks the rest of the world doesn’t. Read all about them here: “The 10 employee perks Silicon Valley gets that America doesn’t.”

8. Hollywood has its star couples, Silicon Valley has its own power pairs. Take a look at who they are: “Meet Silicon Valley’s power couples.”

9. While many Silicon Valley employees enjoy crazy perks like free food or bikes, that doesn’t always mean they love their jobs. Our readers wanted to hear what companies are really the best places to work. Here employees ranked their companies, and we gave you the cream: “Bay Area’s Best Places to Work — See who topped the list.”

10. Remember No. 7? Well, the reverse can be said – there’s several perks America gets that Silicon Valley doesn’t: “9 perks the average American gets that Silicon Valley doesn’t.”

11. Getting a job at a top tech company in Silicon Valley is no easy task — especially at these companies. Learn who the toughest interviews in the Valley are: “Google, Facebook among toughest interviews — their questions revealed.”

12. Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a phenomenal year, from paying back his $535 million federal loan to presenting his Hyperloop transportation plan. But the charismatic CEO isn’t infallible: “Elon Musk admits Tesla’s math was wrong.”

13. Kids, plan early if you want to be a success in the Golden State. Here are the majors that can help you land the best jobs (and the majors you should avoid at all cost): “The 5 best and worst college majors to land a job in CA.”

14. Some of these eye-popping paychecks will make you want to head back to school and get those degrees from No. 13: “Silicon Valley’s 25 highest-paid CEOs — see who made the list.”

15. We found Silicon Valley’s young phenoms and gave you an inside view on how their brains work. (Note: Also an annual special, so feel free to nominate names for the next class.) “40 Under 40: All the winners revealed.”

Shana Lynch is Managing Editor at the Business Journal. Her phone number is 408.299.1831

 

 

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THE SWEETER COUNTER-OFFER: SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?

183154_10151533598074842_389516587_nby Logan Knight, Technology Recruiter, Redfish Technology

 

The job market in technology is hot! Engineering, development, product management, sales and business development, these are hot roles in the tech sector and there’s a lot of competition by companies to attract and retain top talent these days.

Even if you aren’t looking for another job, you may be approached with another opportunity. Let’s say you really weren’t looking to make a move but you were polite on the phone, and next thing you know you’re curious about what you are hearing.

An initial phone interview led quickly to a face to face, and now you have an offer. It is an exciting opportunity with bleeding edge technology. You are motivated because of the new company’s work environment, culture, benefits, salary, location, perks, and such so before you know it you’ve accept the offer.

Shortly after you give notice, your manager makes a pitch for you to stay on and he makes you a sweeter offer than the new company. Oh geez, you are asking yourself “Should I stay or should I go?”

The Clash had it right, (paraphrasing) if you go there may be trouble, but if you stay it will be double. While it is flattering to be wanted, and it is validating to get competing and improving offers, what happens once the dust settles?

Most of the time, the work environment is going to suffer; the trust factor cannot be recovered. Your employer is now wary of your motives and your loyalty. When it comes time to build a new team for a mission critical product launch, will you be trusted to see it through? What happens if there is a change in fortunes at the company and a belt needs to be tightened, who do you think will be among the first laid off? Perhaps your work was critical at the time of your offer and the upper management felt you had to be kept to see it through. What then when the project is done, might the company’s loyalty wane like yours did? When it comes down to it, you kissed another girl and Susie is not going to forget it!

Another by-product of this bidding war occurs with your colleagues. Co-workers may know or suspect that you got some sweet deal to stay and they will probably resent you for it. Will your colleagues be supportive and collaborative if they question whether you are one of them? Might some employees try a similar move hoping to leverage an outside offer into better pay where they are, and whether successful or not the human dynamic is certainly going to be affected, and not likely in a positive way.

And guess what will happen if you stay after accepting the outside offer. You got it, that employer is going to blacklist you. The recruiter you worked with will never represent you again. And word will generally get around creating a negative perception.

But remember, even if you weren’t initially looking for another opportunity, you did get excited enough to go through a hiring process and accept an offer for good reasons. Perhaps you weren’t feeling appreciated, or you felt you deserved better pay. Maybe you needed a new challenge or work environment. Whatever the case may be, you can’t go back.

The great majority of professionals who accept a counteroffer to stay are gone within a year, whether of their own volition or being asked to leave. So don’t pick up that phone or be ready to honor your word. The answer is don’t take the counteroffer, no matter how sweet.

 

About Redfish Technology:

Founded in Silicon Valley in 1996, Redfish Technology is an award-winning talent acquisition firm specializing in high tech and clean tech sectors. Partnering with growth mode companies, small and large, Redfish staffs executive functions and builds out the teams below. The company provides services nationwide and has offices in Silicon Valley, the East Coast, and Sun Valley.

 

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Mixing Business With Pleasure: The World’s Top 5 TED Events

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Beginning in 1984 as an invite-only event in California’s Silicon Valley, the TEDx phenomenon has grown to become a worldwide movement of public discussion and presentation. TED events the place to be seen if you want to be perceived as knowledgeable and interested, and will provide you with enough engaging small talk to last until next year’s conference. But, with TEDx conferences popping up everywhere, it can be hard to know which ones to attend and which ones to skip.

If you’re after a unique and insightful experience, here are the top five TED events that every TED devotee should make the pilgrimage to.

TED Long Beach

The original and, arguably, the best. The original TED event moved from Silicon Valley to Long Beach in order to accommodate increased audience interest, but will be moving to Vancouver, Canada in 2013. This is a series of talks for people who are interested in TED’s core vision: Technology, Education, Design. However, at $US7500 a ticket, the original TED talk is a major investment, even for its greatest devotees.

TEDx Broadway

The TEDx Broadway event discusses the future of New York’s premiere theatre district. The event aims to bring together the best of the best in theatre to consider the implications of falling ticket sales on the Great White Way, as well as the proliferation of musical theatre into other media. Performance is a topic close to the hearts of many A-list celebs, so if you’re in the mood to starspot, TEDx Broadway will not disappoint. Last year, star of the stage and screen, Neil Patrick Harris was one of the presenters.

TEDMED

TED’s medicine forum has a reputation for bringing the best minds in medicine together for three days in Washington D.C. The most interesting aspect of the conference, however, is the application process to attend. Every member of the audience has been deemed to be an important person in the field of medical research, so the people sitting in the stalls are often just as important as the people on stage. But, if you’re not an up-and-coming medical researcher: don’t worry. TEDMED is one of the few TED events that is wholly simulcast to institutions across the world free of charge.

TEDx Sydney

The interesting thing about TEDx Sydney is that it is one of the few TED events around the world that reflect a national opinion. While there are other TED events in Australia, none come close to the size of TEDx Sydney. Set on Sydney’s beautiful harbour inside the iconic Opera House, a trip to TEDx Sydney is a great idea for tourists and locals alike.

TEDx Boston

Boston is the central city to many of the US’s most prestigious universities. Harvard, Cambridge, MIT: they are all surrounding this otherwise rather dull city. But, what does that mean? It means that when an ideas juggernaut comes to town, the academic folk of Boston get pretty excited. If you are at TEDx to be intellectually challenged by some higher-level ideas, Boston is the event for you.

Frances Ward is a TEDx devotee from Sydney who loves watching TED to fill her mind with information on topics as diverse as business finance and neuroscience.

 

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Apple sued over use of iCloud name

iCloud Communications

Phoenix-based iCloud Communications says that Apple has stolen its name for its remote content syncing service.

use of the name iCloud by the giant computer company.

The Phoenix voice-over-IP provider said it has gone by the name iCloud Communications Inc. since it was founded in 2005.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has stolen its identity, the suit claims, through its saturation marketing campaign for its new remote content syncing product named iCloud.

“Apple has a long and well-known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others,” the suit claims, citing its legal fights with the Beatles over the name Apple and with Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) over the name iPhone.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court of Arizona. It seeks an injunction against Apple using the iCloud name and monetary compensation.

Read more: Apple sued over use of iCloud name | Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

 

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Dr. Mike is a Free-kin Rock Star

Congratulations Dr. Mike for a Job Well Done

Days like this don’t happen often enough in this business.  One of my clients published his first website today, and I was actually around to push the button when he went live.

I met Dr. Mike years ago.  We were both in the same church band; in fact we were both bass players in the same church band.  We rotated Sundays and it worked out well as there was another church requiring my services every other weekend.  There was never a feeling of competition, and although we didn’t see each other all that often our relationship was friendly and we became “friends” on FaceBook and LinkedIn.  After a few years the church and I were going in different directions musically, and philosophically.  My Buddhist girlfriend (now wife) was tolerant of some of the egregious language of the Evangelical Christian  Church (everybody is OK as long as they think exactly the way we do…) but not enthusiastic over spending our Sundays driving a half hour each direction to do so.  They had found yet another bass player so we just drifted off.

Mike started Chiropractic school with a vengeance, and kissed his wife goodbye for a couple of years to become a slave to the classrooms and studies.  After the rigorous course, and several panic attacks during exams, Mike was ready to hang up his shingle and announce his practice (again on FaceBook and LinkedIn) and I began to follow him.  Oh the joys of social media, being re-connected with old friends.

Forgetting that age had crept up on me my back went out while engaged in some construction activity that should probably have been left for a man half my age.  It took a few days for me to become convinced that it was not somehow going to miraculously work itself out, and would indeed require the intervention of a skilled practitioner.  It was so bad that walking was almost out of the question, and ice and heat were required to merely sit in front of a football game on television.

Remembering our association, and the current status of Dr. Mike the Chiropractor, it was easy to recall my pleasant experiences with the service and call upon his expertise to alleviate my current condition.  The only negative memory of Chiropractic being that my health plan sucks, and it can be a bit expensive out of pocket.  This minor setback was alleviated after my first visit with our agreement to barter his services for mine as an internet marketing consultant.  As it turns out, so was my back pain.  In a matter of 3 weeks it was loose and relatively painless and the mobility returned to the point that noon 2 mile hikes were back in the picture.

Every visit to his office was accompanied by an hour or so of marketing discussions.  We went over Facebook, Youtube, Hotmail, Blogs, google.com, Markets, Websites, Products, WordPress, Linkedin, youtube videos, and general integration into social media.

The past few visits he has come up to the office and we really got down with our website provider and started to create.  His work is as outstanding on the site is it is at his practice.  It is truly satisfying to have a client listen and take the advice that one works so hard to provide.  At the suggestion of one of my associates, I have for some time, really not encouraged any of my clients to do any of their own work; it simply usually doesn’t get done.

Even with a newborn first child at home, Dr. Mike has written some 20 technical blogs revolving around healthcare and Chiropractic medicine.  It was with great pride that this humble internet marketer was able to watch the birth of www.rogersonchiropractic.com.  Well done Dr. Mike!

 

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Facebook Opens Data Center Info to Public

Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

Date: Thursday, April 7, 2011, 11:03am PDT

Facebook Inc. on Thursday launched the Open Compute Project to share technology from its first dedicated data center in Prineville, Ore.

Palo Alto-based Facebook said the technology used there “delivered a 38 percent increase in energy efficiency at 24 percent lower cost for Facebook, and the specifications and best practices behind those gains will now be available to companies across the industry.”

Jonathan Heiliger, vice president of technical operations, said Facebook and its development partners “invested tens of millions of dollars over the past two years to build upon industry specifications to create the most efficient computing infrastructure possible. These advancements are good for Facebook, but we think they could benefit all companies.”

Facebook is publishing technical specifications and mechanical CAD files for the Prineville data center’s servers, power supplies, server racks, battery backup systems and building design.The company will release the designs as open hardware, aiming to encourage industry-wide collaboration around best practices for data center and server technology.

Sunnyvale-based Advanced Micro Devices Inc., Round Rock, Texas-based Dell, Palo Alto-based Hewlett-Packard Co. and Santa Clara-based Intel Corp. are among the companies that co-developed technology with Facebook.

 

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There is Nothing Like a Good Long Storm to Make You Appreciate The Sunshine

Joni Mitchell was right; you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.  The past couple of weeks it has rained pretty much nonstop.  I feel like we’re back in my wife’s hometown of Hazel Dell, a suburb of Portland.  Never knew how people could live there, too freeking rainy.  The big difference between here (San Francisco area) and there is that we get breaks between showers.  They can go for literally weeks without seeing the sun.

Today we had a break for a couple of hours and I took a walk.  There were kids out playing on their skateboards, women washing dogs, others taking walks or riding bikes.  It was like the old Chicago song:  Saturday, in the park… It felt just like the 4th of July.  All that was missing were the Mexican vendors with their push-carts full of ice cream.  It was T-shirt weather for that hour, even though the temperature read 49’.  In the sun it felt like we were back in Cabo San Lucas.  Funny, when we were down there I didn’t even go for a walk last time.  It seems as though we appreciate things when they are scarce, as the sun was today.

There is much to the texture thing.  Humans often don’t appreciate things without it.  Three years ago who would have thought that we would be ecstatic that the market was back up over 12,000?  When the Silicon Valley was in its “heyday”, a thousand dollar lunch bill just went into the Advertising and Entertainment budget.  Now Mary and I get excited by a free vendor dinner at the Fairmont.  There used to be secretaries and admins to do things like typing and filing.  The internet was a tool and emails were a means of communication, not a burdensome task to filter through in the morning.

Belt tightening can be a good thing.  People learn to do their own typing, publishing, and organizing.  It is a better head space for most of us to be responsible for all of our own actions instead of blustering through the day only to dump the follow-up on someone else’s desk.

Cigarettes used to be 50 cents, gas 29 cents a gallon and what did we do as a country?  More people died from tobacco than anything else, and the average car was a V-8 that got 8 miles to the gallon.  There was no concern for health, carbon footprint, global warming, or anything other than how much steak and potatoes we could fit into our bloated bodies.  Our businesses were every bit as bad.

The new era has brought about many changes:  My car is a Prius that gets 50 miles to the gallon, my office is a converted bedroom in my house, that (the house) is a tremendously downsized version of the one where my kids were raised (but it’s paid for), my business is on the internet helping other folks sell what they do, and my sirloin habit has been cut down from three days a week to once a month.

I actually appreciate it all now.  The walk in the sun, the occasional steak, that I can now type 50 words a minute, all came from necessity.  The contrast in life is what makes us appreciate what we have.

 

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Merry Freeking Christmas on Capitol Hill, or Two Families of Four in a Winnebago…

 I’m not saying what kind of job the Democrat majority did trying to get along with the Party of No, but the outcome is surely messed up.  Now we have both parties agreeing that there is no solution to the unemployment benefit extensions.  Great.
I teach Social Media to a group of professionals in Silicon Valley who are going through “career transition.”  It is called ProMatch.  These are highly educated people who are working their asses off to try and better themselves.  They go to business meetings twice a week.  They attend several career enhancement workshops a month. They attend networking functions weekly and reach out through their profiles and tweets and links.

They are also at the end of their ropes.   There are only so many “great jobs” selling kitchen appliances at Orchard Supply.  I implore you to forward this to your Congress Persons. We all need to step up to the plate.  Let’s use the grass roots power of we the people to spread this message. It got Obama elected.  Tweet it, Face Book it, Digg it, Make it Delicious and for god’s sake lets all stay LinkedIn.  This crap has got to stop.

Steve Ulrich

LinkedIn:   http://www.linkedin.com/in/steveulrichmktg
Blog
http://bayintegratedmarketing.com/
Website
www.bayintegratedmarketing.com
Twitter@steveulrichmktg

This is from last May,  It seemed bleak then.

AN (ANONYMOUS) OPEN LETTER,

I am no different from millions of Americans. I have several college degrees. I have saved human lives, educated children, and given freely to charity. I was let go from my place of employment due to the economic problems in the country, and through no fault of my own, a little over two years ago. Many of the unemployed are highly educated and are told over and over and over that we are way too qualified to do the jobs for which we apply. We do not care, we just want a job!

Now our unemployment extensions are ending and we will have no money coming in at all. Most of us have sold everything we had owned of any value and have gone through all of our savings trying to get any job at all, while keeping our heads just barely above water. This means that by April 15th there will be over ONE MILLION unemployed and uncompensated people in the state of New Jersey alone! We will be losing our homes and being evicted if we are renting. I have been making phone calls to State Senators, State Government, U.S. Senators and the Federal Government, through The White House comment line, as well as emailing through The White House website. There needs to be a Tier 5 legislation addressed immediately before millions upon millions of people receive their last Tier 4 check and have absolutely nothing on which to live through no fault of their own.

 

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A new way to shape the people you’ll be hiring in 2014 (or sooner)

By – Annie  

When Ashkon Jafari was in college (starting at age 16), “I had no one to turn to for advice and felt lost,” he says.

Then he snagged an internship where he lucked into meeting a boss he now describes as “an outstanding mentor,” who helped him choose the right courses and find his first real job.

The experience proved so valuable that it inspired StudentMentor.org, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit Jafari launched last month.

StudentMentor is the first national online mentoring matchmaking service designed to pair up college students who have questions with experienced businesspeople who have answers.

Prospective mentors and mentees can join for free on StudentMentor’s web site and are matched according to their areas of common interest. Geography isn’t a factor, as most mentoring sessions take place online or by phone. In its six weeks of existence so far, 296 mentors have signed on.

Teisha Overton, who heads up Indie Recruiter LLC, a human resources consultancy in Garland, Tex., is mentoring a student in Las Vegas whom she met through the site.

“She hasn’t chosen a major yet, but one of her interests is HR and recruitment, so we’re talking about how she could focus her course work,” Overton says, adding: “In this tough economy, college kids are pretty shaken up about their prospects once they graduate. They’re also extremely motivated.”

Says Doug Brent, a California tech executive who has counseled several mentees since joining StudentMentor last month: “Most of their questions are about very specific situations, like ‘How do I get along with a difficult boss?’ or ‘What should I do to prepare for a job interview?’”

“Even kids who are really good at being students just haven’t yet learned basic business stuff, like how to network, which is where a mentor can really help. And you can meet via email, Skype, or whatever, so the process is efficient,” he says.

Brent, whose own two children are recent grads of Harvard and USC, characterizes himself as “a Boomer who wants to help”, adding, “Students tend to listen better to advice from people other than their parents.”

 

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