Like many college students and recent grads around the country, rising Wharton senior Rachel Brenner’s big summer plan was altered by the coronavirus as it struck the region in March.
“I was planning on working at Boston Consulting Group this summer, but after the coronavirus hit, they gave me the option to intern virtually or do something in the social impact space,” she says. “Watching everything going on in the world, it was a no-brainer. As someone who was fortunate enough to be safe and healthy, I felt the obligation to do something to give back.”
Recent Penn grad Sigal Spitzer had the same impulse to help others as she saw her family and friends lose their jobs because of the pandemic and ensuing recession. As COVID-19 was spreading across America, she felt that the accompanying unemployment crisis was not receiving the attention it deserved from government officials and decision makers.
“My friends from Penn and close family members began to lose employment opportunities as current and upcoming contracts were revoked or postponed,” Spitzer says. “Along with my husband and brother, we decided to jointly start a humanitarian cause to connect job seekers with employers and recruiters. We became the perfect team to embrace our entrepreneurial eagerness to give back to those in need during this challenging time.”
What began as a passion project, Brenner and Spitzer, who met at Wharton, along with other Penn students, launched a job-hunting website, ILostMyJobtoCoronavirus.com for the millions of Americans who have been laid off.
The free job platform allows job seekers to apply for work, connect with others who are unemployed due to COVID-19, and track unemployment numbers. The website displays more than 100,000 job listings and has nearly 30 independent active recruiters who can browse for job candidates.
Spitzer says the goal is to better the entire employment ecosystem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is so much uncertainty and there is so much instability that knowing just that someone is looking at your profile or that someone is looking at your resume can go a long way,” she says.
Brenner says the platform is uniquely different from its competitors, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, or Monster.
“Our site notifies the user when they have been searched, giving the user the opportunity to reach out first,” she says. “The site currently has about 1,000 users, and has an API [application programming interface] set up to pull job listings from other sites. The team has been cold-calling recruiters to join the platform, and currently many of our users range from Los Angeles to New York.”
Spitzer and Brenner manage operations and the business sides of the platform, while two other Penn students work as coders on the site.
Rising Wharton senior Simcha Stadlan, who is one of the coders, says their hope is not only to help people find employment resources, but for others to see that they are not alone.
“The platform encourages recruiters to focus on candidates who lost their job specifically as a result of COVID-19, rather than the entire pool of unemployed Americans,” she says. “The website also hosts community forums to promote discussion about job-searching tactics, networking opportunities, and general employment support for its users.”
Rising School of Engineering and Applied Science senior Abigail Stein, who is the site’s front-end developer, says the platform and its community discussion forums are an excellent way to help the unemployed population.
“It allows users to pose and answer questions—such as where to look for jobs and what the appropriate wages are,” she says.
In the coming weeks, the team is working on incorporating a mentorship aspect, which includes resume, cover letter, application, and interviewing skills workshops.
“Ultimately, I see [the site] becoming much more than a job-seeking platform,” Brenner says. “I want individuals to be able to leverage our site to reach their maximum potential—to find the perfect job, connect with mentors, and learn how to effectively market themselves.”