It has only been a few months since recent graduate, Iba Masoud founded online student recruitment portal, gradberry.com, yet the start-up is proving to be quite a success.
The proof is in the pudding as they say, and in this case the pudding would be three recently confirmed university partnerships. Gradberry.com has recently formed knowledge collaborations with Middlesex University, Heriot-Watt University Dubai and the American University in Dubai and is in talks with several other institutions across the emirate.
"Initially gradberry.com would have an active presence at university career fairs to help students with some issues they face and give them graduate career advice," said Masoud. "However, things are very experimental at this stage, but they are flexible working partnerships."
The online portal is also gaining corporate recognition through its initial corporate partnerships.
"We are ecstatic because not only have universities initiated partnerships with us but also corporate entities such as the National Career Fair in the UAE," she said. "This is a very young start-up and also because everyone on the team is below the age of 23."
Fulfilling a need
Gradberry.com was founded in November 2011 to fill a gap in the student/graduate recruitment market and was established after Masoud's own experience as a graduate looking for employment.
"I was confused about my career choices although I was in the top five percentile at the American University of Sharjah, because we never got proper career guidance."
She added compared with their US counterparts, students in the Middle East were in desperate need of a portal for career advice. "After graduation, while looking for positions, I found a big gap in the market as most recruitment entities cater to working professionals with two to five years work experience," she said. "Then I began to ask myself, where do the zero to two year people go?"
Masoud gave up full-time employment last autumn at General Electric to dedicate her efforts to the start-up, which is a risk that seems to be paying off. Since its launch the website has clocked more than 500,000 page views with about 6,000 visitors a month. There are currently 55 positions advertised on the website and since its inception 36 students have found employment through gradberry.com.
"We are now seeing traction from countries outside the Middle East with 545 universities represented on the portal as students use it actively."
Masoud's mission was for gradberry.com to become the Middle East's first career portal for student internships, entry-level jobs and freelance work. It appears she is cruising straight towards her goal with subsequent expansions on the website such as the Fruit Bowl Blog.