College entrepreneurs are entering the marketplace for the first time in decades, and some are already paying off big.
But many of them are finding the process intimidating.
The goal is to become an entrepreneur in a short period of time and to do it quickly, said Andrew Smith, co-founder of the startup startup campus-based campus group Campus Recruiter.
He launched the startup in 2011 with a goal of building a platform for college students to apply for jobs and start businesses on campus.
“The biggest obstacle we’ve been dealing with is figuring out how to attract and retain top talent,” Smith said.
“It’s been an uphill battle.”
The college-based startup has already attracted more than 10,000 college students who have used the platform to find jobs, and more than $4 million in funding from investors.
Smith says he is seeing students get their first job offers in the first three months after they have applied for jobs, but that the average stay of one job for a college student is about a year.
“We’re seeing it for the very first time,” he said.
“College entrepreneurs are finding themselves as a larger group of people.”
Smith has seen a noticeable increase in applications since he launched Campus Recruit, as well as a significant increase in the number of job offers.
“There’s definitely been a change in the marketplace and a lot of these students are going from getting job offers as early as they can, to actually finding out they’re going to have to apply in February,” Smith explained.
“And then when they actually apply for the position, they’re actually going to need a lot more money to get their degree.”
College entrepreneurship, he said, is more than just a job opportunity, but also a life-changing experience.
“I’ve never met a college graduate who wasn’t able to find a job or had an impact on their lives that’s positive, or that was meaningful,” Smith added.
The startup has helped hundreds of students apply for a variety of jobs and has attracted hundreds of employers, according to Campus Recrut.
The group has also created a website that provides an online platform for students to connect with job candidates, apply, and receive feedback.
“For most people, they have never been involved in a job market before,” Smith noted.
“If you have never done that before, you can’t understand why it’s so great.”
The site has also been used by more than 200 college students and alumni, who have also applied for college-related jobs, including the National Collegiate Student Association, which offers an online forum for students seeking help to find and connect with potential employers.
“College entrepreneurship is so different from what you see in other sectors,” Smith recalled.
“It’s a new market, but it’s also the same opportunity as any other market.
You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to start a business.”
Students in college entrepreneurship programs are expected to earn at least $45,000 per year in their final year of college.
Some graduates will also be able to pursue degrees outside of their chosen field.
“They are very well-educated, they can take on all kinds of things, and they are very capable of doing all the things that you’re going through,” Smith pointed out.
The student-led startup is not alone.
According to the National Association of College Entrepreneurs, there are more than 1,000 colleges and universities across the country offering undergraduate entrepreneurship programs.
The College Board, the U.S. Department of Education and the U,S.
Census Bureau all say that college students have the potential to become the next generation of entrepreneurs.
“More than 90 percent of young people have aspirations of becoming entrepreneurs, and college entrepreneurship is the perfect path for those young people to be able get that dream,” said Michael D. Taylor, vice president for colleges and the arts at the National Council of Foundations, which supports the mission of the College Board.
Taylor said the growth of college entrepreneurship and the number who are succeeding is unprecedented.
“This is a very important time to be a college business owner,” he added.
“You need to have a strong, well-established presence in the market to be considered a viable entrepreneur.”
Follow Kristina Greska on Twitter: @KGreskaCNN.