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Home From College: How One Startup Is Helping College Students Kickstart Their Careers

Published on February 19, 2021, at 5:48 p.m. 
by Bella Valentini.

Last spring as COVID-19 spread rapidly across the country, college students unexpectedly packed their belongings and headed home to complete their spring semesters in a completely virtual setting. With this change, many students found that their summer internships were canceled and vital career resources were lost, causing them to question what their next steps would be.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Entrepreneur and Syracuse graduate Julia Haber understood the struggle students were facing during this time, working long days and nights to create a career-advancing platform specifically for college students and launching the first phase of Home From College in only a few weeks.

Haber is no stranger to creating startups. She founded WAYV in 2018, a platform that develops pop-up experiences with various brands around college campuses. She said she has “always valued the importance of bringing people together,” and her time at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications made her even more passionate about bringing people together through a sense of strong marketing and branding strategies.

When creating Home From College, Haber was aware that a support system for college students figuring out their career paths was not a groundbreaking idea, but she did know that she “wanted to build a business that felt like your cool older sister guiding you through college and [wanted to] position the brand in a way that was not something aggressive or competitive.” Instead, she created a brand that valued community.

In its early stages, Haber “wanted [Home From College] to be the launchpad for your career as a college student,” but as the company grows, she hopes it can become a platform like LinkedIn for Gen Zers.

The Home From College website currently features short-form video content from professionals across various industries, aka “Gigs,” which are internships that are designed to work with students’ schedules, and weekly “Office Hours” Zoom sessions where students can actively engage and connect with industry professionals. The Instagram page offers resources on various topics to help students with professional development and how they can get involved in social justice initiatives; asks questions to engage followers in conversation; and reminds followers about upcoming panelists, along with much more.

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Olivia Taylor, an advertising and journalism student at Boston University, interns for Home From College as a digital media content creator. In her role, she’s responsible for “creating social media content for the coming month, joining meetings with the team, responding to whatever needs to be done via Slack and developing new, creative strategies for future content.”

Taylor has benefited immensely from her professors at Boston University, many of whom are currently working in fields across the communications industry; but she credits much of her success as an intern to her extracurriculars.

Before transferring to Boston University, Taylor spent a year at The University of Alabama as a PR and digital marketing major and was a copywriter for Capstone Agency. She spent her time as a copywriter for the organization’s internal communications team, writing captions for its social media content and creating promotional materials. Taylor also participated in the organization’s 24-hour CreateAThon, “learning more about the communications field than I ever could have without being a part of Capstone Agency.”

Gaining hands-on experience through internships and student organizations related to one’s career path can be invaluable. Taylor explained that “out of everything that I learned in Capstone Agency, the most impactful skills I have gained include an understanding of the tools and programs used by agencies to create content, and the knowledge that I can thrive in creative environments has helped me tremendously working for a startup.”

Taylor also believes she’s been successful throughout her internship because of the innovative company culture Home From College cultivates, allowing her to create some of her best work; and “working with a young, intelligent CEO like Julia who has such a distinct vision for her brand is truly inspiring.”

As for advice for young professionals wanting to break into the communications industry? Haber explained that treating a college career as a “business transaction” will get you where you want or need to be. Haber said, “I went to office hours with all of my professors and contacted all of the alumni who had jobs that I dreamt of just to have informational interviews. … I would just encourage students to hack their college careers for what they want out of it.”

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Taylor also stressed the importance of networking with professors, industry professionals and peers, and encouraged students to explore any industry in which they might be interested in creating a career, so they didn’t have a “what if” moment.

“By exploring your areas of interest, joining cool organizations on campus, applying for internships, networking with other students and professionals, and following industry professionals online, you are bound to find a career in your dream industry,” said Taylor.

With the jobs market expected to return to the pre-pandemic level by 2022, Home From College will continue to digitally foster a sense of community among college students across the nation. However, Haber has big ideas for the early-stage startup, hoping to have “some kind of physical experience … in the foreseeable future” to create an even bigger community through online and in-person experiences.

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