Internships

I ran out of jobs

by on August 29, 2014

Seven years ago I was an unemployed college grad with an idea that I thought would help people like me find cool companies to work for.

ODOJ Google Analytics

It turned out to be a pretty good idea. Just look at our list of success stories (and these are only the ones from people who took the time to e-mail me).

Millions of people visited my sites. Tens of thousands chose to get my e-mails in their inboxes every morning. Thousands e-mailed me asking for help or advice. And about 20 people bought a job search prep course that I co-developed (that was a bad idea). I was even able to hire some of my readers as paid interns to help grow the site.

I couldn’t find a job so I made a job helping people find jobs

There’s no doubt that One Day One Job succeeded in its goal to help college kids find interesting jobs and internships. It also helped me escape a trap that I put myself into. After I graduated I waited too long to get serious about my job search. Creating ODOJ gave me something meaningful, interesting, and fulfilling to work on for seven years even though I had no prior experience. ODOJ did for me what I built it to do for others.

I couldn’t find a job… so I created one… helping other people find jobs. It’s a weird thing to explain to people. If you want the whole story, check out one of these links:

For most of the seven years, I worked alone on ODOJ, but I was anything but alone. It started with my parents who let me live at home for free while I got the site off the ground. I guess they felt guilty for infecting me with the entrepreneurial disease

Then there’s Amy, my wife. She was my silent co-founder. ODOJ was as good as it was because she kept pushing me. One of my proudest accomplishments is that ODOJ profits paid for her engagement ring.

I also owe immense gratitude to everyone who subscribed, replied, shared, and encouraged. It was the support from the crowd that kept me going for seven years. I woke up every morning to write a new post because I knew many of you expected it.

It’s not a job if it doesn’t pay

ODOJ gave me my business education. I learned from doing, but also from studying all 2,482 companies and organizations that we profiled. I made awesome friends like Jason Seiden and Sherry Mason. I was mentioned in newspapers, books, major websites, and even on television. It was an amazing “entry level” experience.

I also watched dozens, if not hundreds, of startups try to enter the recruiting space and fail.

That was the problem. ODOJ never really clicked as a business. My initial plan was to grow traffic and see what happened. As our traffic skyrocketed, the economy tanked. I didn’t have a real business model, but I kept going based on all of the positive feedback. After a few years with minimal revenue, I lucked into a pretty good business model. Contextual advertising through Indeed improved the site’s overall user experience and made me money. It got me excited to keep growing the business.

Google had other plans. Somehow ODOJ got caught up in an algorithmic update that cut our traffic in half overnight (that’s what we got for always playing by the rules). I spent years trying to fight it and get back to growth. I repeatedly found ways to increase revenue per page view, but my traffic kept declining no matter how hard I worked to reverse the trend. I even tried using the daily e-mails to send traffic back to the site. Every step forward seemed to be met with a step backward in our search rankings.

It was my fault for not building a more resilient business. ODOJ was really close to being something much bigger, but I was never able to make the right move at the right time. I didn’t give the idea credit for how big it could be, and I played it too conservatively. If you stay small for too long, eventually you are going to get crushed.

For at least the past year, I’ve been on autopilot. I stopped learning, and I stopped having fun. I was waiting for things that were out of my control (Google) to change. That’s no way to run a business.

I didn’t really run out of jobs

Yesterday’s post about Detour was my last. I think it’s fitting to end on Labor Day weekend with a post about a company that was started by an entrepreneur, Andrew Mason, who has been a huge inspiration for me ever since I met him at some random Chicago tech event.

While the decision to “end” ODOJ is a personal one, it’s also a financial one. In the past few months revenue has plummeted, and I no longer think it’s worth trying to fix. I’m reay to start another business, but I’m still working out what it will be.

One Day One Job and One Day One Internship the websites aren’t going anywhere. They’ll continue to exist, but they won’t be updated and the daily e-mails will stop. This is the last one.

You can still reach me at willy@onedayonejob.com. I’d love to hear from you whether you want to share a late success story, buy ODOJ and keep it going, tell me what I should do next, or just say hi.

You can also comment below if you have any questions about the business, what I learned, or anything else that might be interesting to a wider audience. Here’s a picture of Garçon, because dog.

Garçon Coke Bottle

Detour

by on August 28, 2014

Detour Logo

I usually have a really bad attitude about tourist attractions, so when my wife and I were in San Francisco a couple weeks ago I was a little annoyed when she asked me if I wanted to do a self-guided audio tour at Fisherman’s Wharf. I would have said no, but it was through a new startup that her former boss founded, so I figured it was worth a shot. The company is called Detour, and the audio tour was absolutely amazing. I usually hate this kind of stuff, but it was probably the most enjoyable 90 minutes of the entire trip (and that’s including The Serpentarium!). The San Francisco, CA based company set out to offer “immersive, location-aware audio walks,” and they completely knocked it out of the park. They took the audio tour and turned it into something remarkable.

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Utilidata

by on August 27, 2014

Utilidata Logo

It’s easy to take electricity for granted. When we plug something in, it usually works. If it doesn’t, the problem probably isn’t with the outlet (though I have had that happen). Our electric system has been around for well over a century, which is why it’s so reliable. However, keeping it up to date still requires a lot of innovation. That’s where Utilidata comes in. They’re a Providence, RI based company that delivers “value to utilities and large energy users by improving operational decisions through the use of new data extraction and digital processing techniques.” We all know that measurement is usually the first step in improvement, and that’s why Utilidata is all about using data to optimize energy efficiencies.

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Lua

by on August 26, 2014

Lua Logo

If there is any skill that is necessary across all kinds of jobs, its the ability communicate effectively. While communication is a skill that can definitely be taught and developed, it’s much easier to nurture when you’re using the right tools. That’s why work communication tools have always been a big business. Some of the latest trends have been in the form of project management and online chat tools. But what about tools for people who work in jobs that might require something like a walkie-talkie? Cell phones and text messaging might have changed those jobs a little bit, but there’s more room for technology. That’s why Lua was founded in 2010. They’re a New York, NY based company that is focused on “empowering mobile workforces by giving them access to the people and information they need to get the job done from the field or the office.”

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The Institute for Humane Studies Logo

While the United States may not hold the patent on freedom, I’m pretty sure that we hold the trademark. Freedom and liberty are a huge part of our national identity, though a nation, almost by definition, imposes limits on freedom. That’s generally where political differences arise from–how much and what types of freedom should be limited? The people at The Institute for Humane Studies would probably say not much and not many. They are an Arlington, VA based organization (housed at George Mason University) that “advances a freer society by discovering and facilitating the development of talented, productive students, scholars, and other intellectuals who share an interest in liberty.”

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Juvenile Law Center

by on August 23, 2014

Juvenile Law Center Logo

Have any of you seen the movie North? Roger Ebert said, “North is a bad film – one of the worst movies ever made” (and Siskel agreed). I sheepishly admit that I liked it. It’s about a kid who sues his parents so that he can be a free agent and have potential new parents try to woo him. I think the reason that so many people found the movie so distasteful was that North, the main character, has an exceptionally good life–and this makes light of the fact that there are so many real-life kids who really could use legal help to get out of truly terrible situations. Luckily, there’s a real-life organization to help them. It’s called the Juvenile Law Center. They are a Philadelphia, PA based non-profit that “plays a leadership role nationally and in Pennsylvania in shaping and using the law on behalf of children in the child welfare and justice systems to promote fairness, prevent harm, secure access to appropriate services, and ensure a smooth transition from adolescence to adulthood.”

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CompStak

by on August 22, 2014

CompStak Logo

While the residential real estate market is often driven by emotion and hype (as the season premier of Million Dollar Listing L.A. reminded me), that’s not nearly as true when it comes to commercial real estate. The market for commercial properties is much more data driven, but getting your hands on the right data to make decisions can be very difficult. That’s why CompStak was started. They’re a New York, NY based company that aims to “create transparency in commercial real estate by gathering information that is hard to find, difficult to compile or otherwise unavailable.” How do they do this? By offering a place to buy and sell lease comparable data.

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Victorious

by on August 21, 2014

Victorious Logo

I don’t watch a lot of YouTube, but I go on occasional binges. Most of the people who are “YouTube famous” annoy the heck out of me, but I do have one favorite. It’s The Food Reviewer… he does “reviews on the YouTube… you never knew such a cool dude…” I have no idea why I enjoy watching a high school kid review packaged snack foods, but I do. Anyway, YouTube stars like The Food Reviewer (not sure if he’s a star yet with 17k followers) should do everything they can to capitalize on their fame. That’s where Victorious comes in. They’re a Santa Monica, CA based startup that is “motivated by the challenge of powering and uniting the world’s most creative communities.” In other words, they help digital stars build their own platforms so that they can make the most of the attention that they receive.

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Sprout Social

by on August 20, 2014

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For most of us social media is a time waster. It’s mindless entertainment that fills in gaps in our days. But for some people it’s a job. For them the mobile app just won’t do. They need power tools to manage all of their social media accounts, and that’s exactly what Sprout Social offers. They’re a Chicago, IL based company that offers “a management and egnagement platform for social business.” Sprout Social’s software offers all of the tools that one might need to engage with customers, publish content, and analyze the effectiveness of social marketing. This kind of platform is a must have for any company that takes social seriously.

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Emerge Media

by on August 18, 2014

Emerge Media Logo

When I think about potential new websites that I’d build, I usually look for underserved niches–gaps to fill. There are so many companies building large generalist sites that you really need to do something different to have a chance at building a real business. At least that’s my take. Emerge Media has a completely different philosophy. They are a Chicago, IL based company that is “taking on the essential roots of everyday tasks and breathing real life into the technology behind them.” They’ve been launching new sites in broad niches with a lot of competition. It seems crazy to me, but it might just work.

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Future of Fish

by on August 17, 2014

Future of Fish Logo

I am a fisherman. I love to eat fish, catch fish, watch fish, read about fish, and talk about fish. Obviously I’m extremely worried about the state of our fisheries–both commercial and recreational. While we would all probably be healthier if we ate more fish, we have to be sure to make decisions that allows us to keep eating lots of fish well into the future. That’s why Future of Fish was started. They’re a Seattle, WA based non-profit that “envision a global seafood supply chain that produces legal, traceable, trustworthy fish; that rewards responsible fishing with better prices; and that fosters resource conservation.” They’re trying to revolutionize a very old industry, so they certainly have their work cut out for them.

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Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Logo

Bikes have to be one of the most versatile inventions of all time. They’re transportation, entertainment, and exercise all in one. You can even rig one to turn human power into electricity if you really want. They may have been around for a long time, but they’re still a surprisingly good solution to many of our society’s problems. That’s why the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition was started to promote the bicycle for everyday use. They’re a San Jose, CA based non-profit that is working to “to create a healthy community, environment, and economy through bicycling for people who live, work, or play in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties.”

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ListenLogic

by on August 15, 2014

ListenLogic Logo

We live in a world of data. Everything from the prices on financial markets to our weights can be measured and tracked very easily. Even an average person can use easily accessible online tools to fake being a “data scientist.” But what about data that isn’t obviously data? I’m talking about stuff that isn’t neatly sorted into rows and columns–the kind of stuff that you’d have to painstakingly tabulate by hand. We now have technology that can do the hard work for us, and one of the companies behind such technology is ListenLogic. They are a Conshohocken, PA based company that extracts “insights from unstructured big data to drive business outcomes.” Their “big data” technology allows clients to act on information that they never before could have acted on.

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Tripping

by on August 14, 2014

Tripping Logo

My favorite vacations when I was growing up were our annual trips to Nantucket. While it’s an awesome island and I had a lot of fiends there, there was something else that made the vacations special. We rented a house. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it makes a vacation more relaxing. You may not have someone who makes your bed every morning, but there’s something really nice about having a place that feels like home while you’re on vacation. Back then we found our rental through an agent, but today it’s much easier to just go online and use a site like Tripping. They are a San Francisco, CA based company that has build “the world’s largest search engine for vacation and short-term rentals.” They tap into other sites’ inventories and let you compare properties easily.

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BustedTees

by on August 13, 2014

BustedTees Logo

Who doesn’t love a good t-shirt? For me it’s all about comfort. That’s why I generally pick solid colored tees made out of high quality fabrics. For others it’s more about expression–you want your shirt to say something about who you are. If what you’re saying about yourself with your shirt is that you have a good sense of humor, then BustedTees mint be the place for you to shop. They are a New York, NY based company that was started by the same team as CollegeHumor. They started in 2004 because they wanted “people to have fun, laugh, look good, feel comfortable, get good jobs, get sweaty dancing and go home with someone who also did those things.” It’s amazing what something as simple as a t-shirt can do for people.

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The Wirecutter

by on August 12, 2014

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Whenever I buy electronics, outdoors gear, or kitchen equipment, I do a ton of research. I want to ensure that I am buying the best that I can afford. It’s easy to spend hours on this stuff if you’re not careful. While that can be a form of entertainment for some people, it’s a lot of time to spend on something that might only cost a few hundred bucks. What if you had someone to read all of the reviews and even test the products for you? That’s what The Wirecutter does. It’s “a list of the best electronics and gadgetry, each pick chosen mindfully and in accordance with many hours of research, interviews with the world’s most knowledgeable experts and testing, all backing up smart opinion.” While lots of other sites are constantly churning out new content to get more eyeballs, The Wirecutter just wants to give you all of the facts that you need to make the best purchasing decision.

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Kiwi Partners

by on August 11, 2014

Kiwi Partners Logo

While non-profits may not be businesses, they still have to worry about financials. In fact, non-profits can often be more financially complicated than a lot of companies. Some organizations have accounting teams to manage the finances, and others rely solely on specialists. Whether a non-profit needs a little help with accounting or wants someone to do it all, they can go to Kiwi Partners. They are a New York, NY based firm that “gives the nonprofit leader the ability to focus on their mission, and provides clarity to the donor, giving them confidence to give.” They may not be a non-profit themselves, but they’re helping all kinds of organizations make the world a better place.

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Environmental Traveling Companions Logo

I spent yesterday morning teaching kids how to fly fish. It’s my favorite thing to do, so I am thrilled to share it with young people to ensure the future of the sport. Those who enjoy the outdoors need to do everything they can to share their passion with people from all backgrounds. That’s what Environmental Traveling Companions is about. They’re a San Francisco, CA based non-profit that “opens the beauty and challenge of the great outdoors to people with disabilities and disadvantaged youth.” They’ve been around since 1972, and in that time they’ve helped thousands of people enjoy activities like whitewater rafting and alpine skiing.

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The Bostonian Society

by on August 9, 2014

The Bostonian Society Logo

I have a thing against Boston. Actually, that’s not true. It’s just Red Sox fans. Boston is actually a pretty cool city. There’s great seafood and a ton of history–it might even be the most historically important city in our country. That’s why The Bostonian Society exists. They’re a Boston, MA based non-profit that “is dedicated to studying, and preserving Boston’s uniquely important history, embodied in materials, records, and structures.” It’s easy to lose our past in the push to create a better future, so it’s good that there are organizations like The Bostonian Society to preserve what’s important.

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Chute

by on August 7, 2014

Chute Logo

For a long time marketing has been about piggybacking on other people’s content. You buy ads in newspapers, during tv shows, and on billboards (I guess scenery next to the highway is content?). At some point marketers realized that they could become the content creators–that’s what soap operas were originally about. Today social media has forced nearly every brand into content creation. Doing it right on all of the important platforms is really hard. That’s why Chute, a San Francisco, CA based company, has developed a “visual content engine for brands” that makes “it easy to keep pace with your customers and create compelling, fresh content to engage with your fans, build awareness and, ultimately, increase conversion.”

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Piece & Co.

by on August 6, 2014

Piece & Co. Logo

If you think of J. Peterman from Seinfeld, all of his successful products were inspired by journeys around the world. But what did he do for the people he was inspired by? I have no idea, but usually when brands are inspired by a particular culture they knock it off and manufacture it somewhere else. Piece & Co. is changing that. They’re a Chicago, IL based social enterprise that is fighting poverty “by providing sustainable employment opportunities to female artisans in the developing world.” They do this “by partnering with leading fashion and retail brands” and having the female artisans “create beautiful, handmade products and accessories” for them. This means that you get to buy cool stuff and feel good about it instead of worrying about the condition of the person who made your shirt.

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BioLite

by on August 5, 2014

BioLite Logo

When it comes to electronics, heat is usually the enemy. You want to dissipate heat as quickly as possible so that you can get the maximum performance from your hardware. That’s why the idea of using a heat source to power your electronics seems a little weird. But that’s exactly what BioLite does. They’re a Brooklyn, NY based company that “develops and manufactures advanced energy products that make cooking with wood as clean safe and easy as modern fuels while also providing electricity to charge cell phones and LED lights off-grid.” While the big audacious goal is to change the lives of people who cook over open fires and may not have electricity, BioLite has also developed some pretty sweet camping products.

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Vayable

by on August 4, 2014

Vayable Logo

I come up with a lot of business ideas. More often than not I find that someone is already doing it–and usually I’m fine with that. It’s cool to see someone putting the idea to the test since I can’t try most of the ideas that I come up with. A lot of my ideas center around a thesis that more and more people will forgo traditional jobs and instead make a living (or at least supplement their incomes) by reaching new markets through the Internet. Vayable is a company based on this thesis. They are a San Francisco, CA and New York, NY based company that offers “a home for anyone looking to experience honest, local culture through experiences created and hosted by passionate local Insiders.”

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ArtStream

by on August 3, 2014

ArtStream Logo

One cool thing about art is that anyone can create it. You don’t have to be a profession or even have any training. And even if you don’t create, you can still enjoy other people’s art. The only problem is that sometimes the arts community can get a little stuffy and exclusive. It goes against everything that the arts are about, but it happens. That’s why ArtStream was started. They’re a Washington, DC based non-profit “whose mission is to create artistic opportunities for individuals in communities traditionally under-served by the arts.” That includes “persons with disabilities, seniors, people with short or long term illnesses and their families or caregivers, immigrants, veterans, people who are grieving, and students and teachers.”

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Cradles to Crayons

by on August 2, 2014

Cradles to Crayons Logo

We all know that childhood is one of the most important periods in our lives. It sets the stage for what we’ll do and how we’ll do as we become adults, and it’s a time where it’s extremely important to make sure that the basics are accounted for. That’s why Cradles to Crayons exists. They’re a Brighton, MA based non-profit that is focused on “providing to children ages 0 to 12 some of the most important basics of life—free of charge.” For Cradles to Crayons, the focus is on hard goods–things like clothes, school supplies, and toys.

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Rocketrip

by on August 1, 2014

Rocketrip Logo

When you get into the corporate world, one thing that will blow your mind is how much companies spend on employee travel. It often seems stupid, and a lot of times companies realize that travel expenses are a huge cost center. What if you could incentivize and reward employees to help your company reduce travel spending. That’s what Rocketrip does. They’re a New York, NY based company that aims “to enlist employees as engaged partners in managing corporate travel costs.” How does this work? Employees get points for activities that save their company money. They can redeem these points for rewards. It’s pretty simple.

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GuideSpark

by on July 31, 2014

GuideSpark Logo

Chances are that most of your communications with employers at this point are your submitting applications and their not responding. If you’re lucky, you may get a rejection letter… or even an invitation for an interview. Eventually it will get better and your communications will lead to the acceptance of a job offer. From there it will get boring–stuff like health insurance enrollment and reminders to clean up after yourself in the communal kitchen. While employee communications are often mundane, they’re an extremely important part of running a business. GuideSpark is a Menlo Park, CA based company that has built a “robust employee communications platform” that “allows HR executives to toss out the stacks of pamphlets and eliminate time-consuming seminars, and offers a new way to educate employees on complex HR topics like benefits, health care reform, and compensation programs.”

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