Rising University of Pennsylvania senior Rachel Brenner and recent Penn grad Sigal Spitzer both had big plans for their summers, but like many college students and recent grads around the country, they were altered when the coronavirus pandemic hit the region back in March.
Spitzer had been brainstorming with her brother, recent high school graduate Gilad Spitzer, about how to use this time to help the millions of people she knew had lost their jobs during the pandemic and ensuing recession. The pair launched a job platform called I Lost My Job To Coronavirus this spring and asked Brenner if she’d like to get involved.
Since April, the free platform has allowed for folks to apply for jobs, track unemployment numbers and connect with other people who are unemployed due to the pandemic. Sigal Spitzer and Brenner manage operations and the business side of the platform, while Gilad Spitzer works with two other coders, who are Penn students, on the site.
When the pandemic first hit, Brenner said, she saw that the first and most obvious priority was the health concerns and safety of frontline healthcare workers. But pretty quickly, the number of unemployed people in the country began rising.
“I think like a lot of people right now, we felt really hopeless,” she said. “This was a way to feel like there was a tangible impact we could make.”
The job platform is intended to help out those recently laid off, but doesn’t target a specific industry or city. The team also wanted to add a layer of transparency: Unlike other job platforms recruiters may use, when a candidate matches the qualifications that a registered recruiter is looking for, both are notified and the candidate can introduce themselves.
The site currently has about 1,000 users, and has an API set up to pull job listings from sites like Indeed. The team has been cold-calling recruiters to join the platform, and currently many of their users are in Los Angeles and New York, Brenner said.
The current and former Penn students hope to continue work on the platform, even when classes resume in the fall, and are currently brainstorming some more community-focused features like free mentorship or resume reviews.
We are live! We are building the community of those who lost their employment because of #coronavirus
— ilostmyjobtocoronavirus (@ILMJTCV) April 14, 2020
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