Frustrated Brown student creates job site for part-time work

By Ray Henry
Associated Press / September 13, 2009

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PROVIDENCE - Finding part-time work was never a challenge for Walker Williams until he arrived as a student at Brown University two years ago hoping to find a job to earn extra cash.

He looked on a school-run job listings website, combed unsuccessfully through newspaper classifieds, then searched fliers advertising work around campus. He never found any postings.

“I just ran into this massive roadblock,’’ he said. “Why settle for just a terrible solution?’’

Williams and two other Brown students officially launched their response last week, an online job-search site called that aims to match college students in the Providence area with employers searching for part-time help, interns, or volunteers.

The site, free for students and employers, had enrolled more than 100 students by midweek and carried 80 job listings. The firm hopes to eventually make money by running the job sites hosted by Brown and other schools.

While Williams and his fellow students approached Brown officials last year about taking over their job site, they have not struck a deal. Brown’s site is currently run by NextGen Web Solutions LLC, which earns about $1 million annually providing similar online services for 250 schools, said Jim Grace, the firm’s chief executive.

“If these guys came on,’’ Grace said, “they would just join a group of people providing services in that area.’’

At first glance, Providence hardly seems like a ripe market to launch a job search service considering the city suffered from 15.9 percent unemployment in July. But Dominique Ferraro, who runs marketing for, said the start-up specializes in short-term work such as child care or yard work that is more immune to the slowdown.

“Someone’s always going to need a baby sitter,’’ Ferraro said.

The site is primarily focused on Providence, and students must have an e-mail address from an area school such as Brown, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, the Rhode Island School of Design, or the University of Rhode Island.

Once logged in, students can upload their resumes in a style similar to that used by the online social networking site Facebook and search for jobs based on keywords and location. The site will recommend jobs based on the work experiences in a student’s profile.

Jennifer McLaughlin, 20, a junior at Brown, created an account to search for part-time work to pay for maintenance on her Honda Accord. During past searches for work, she’s visited businesses door-to-door seeking a job, with little success.

She’s also using Jobzle to find interns for a company that outsources bookkeeping and other administrative tasks from small business owners. McLaughlin said she felt more secure using a job search site geared for students.

“It’s trustworthy,’’ she said. “Craigslist seems a little shady to me. I never really wanted to use it because you never know what you’re going to get.’’