Mark Visco and his brother Domenic had always planned to go into business together. Just before their junior year at Pitt, they figured they better get down to business.
So they queried their peers for ideas and one subject came up again and again. How should students determine a career that’s best for them?
“We realized some students spend a lot of time in school uncertain of what they will do after they graduate. Others knew what career field they wanted, but didn’t have a resource to know the steps they should take to become competitive in that field.”
After graduation, the Viscos turned the idea into MeshNet, an education analytics platform that helps college students determine their future and chart a course on a path toward that career.
The company won first place in “Business Bout” March of 2014, which gave them space at Thrill Mill in East Liberty. Pitt was so impressed that they agreed to pilot it in the School of Business this year. Now, with 90% of all business students signed up and actively engaged, a campus-wide rollout is planned for next year; other schools are showing interest.
The platform is designed to engage on three levels–from students to university career departments to employers, explains Visco. Students sign up for a scorecard in their freshman year and begin tracking their progress and meeting goals right away.
The university, for its part, asks local employers to join MeshNet and work with the startup by identifying key skill sets and competencies that businesses look for in entry-level graduates.
Employers, for their part, have the option of using a student’s MeshNet scorecard when they make hires. It cuts the recruiting time in half, says Visco. Several large Pittsburgh employers have already signed on.
MeshNet helps students discern what they should be doing and when, says R.J., Rakow, assistant director for career services at Pitt.
“It’s gamified, so it has become a competition for our business students. Students see one another doing it and they don’t want to be left behind,” he says.
“On our side, it builds data on what students are doing and their competencies. Down the road we will be able to see if it (what they have done at school) leads to greater success, jobs and (good) salaries.”
“Gamification appeals to millennials and helps them to sustain a long term vision,” Visco says. “No one is capturing this career data. We’re becoming the place where universities and employers go to find student career development information.
“It’s not a magic wand. Everyone has to buy into it to make it work,” he adds.