Categories: ArticlesPublished On: January 16th, 2021

What Campus Recruiters Can Learn from this Entrepreneurship Network

Team Turazo

The demand for diverse, entry-level candidates is higher than ever, causing recruiters to rethink how they find, engage, and convert the next generation of workers. Sometimes, in order to find creative solutions to difficult problems like this one, it helps to look outside of your niche to learn from others who are grappling with similar issues but in a different vertical.

To help you get creative solving this issue, we’re looking outside of the recruiting realm and into the online entrepreneurship network created at UC Davis. We’ll take you inside their unique network, paralleling the similar challenges that recruiters face today, along with solutions that you can apply directly to your talent acquisition strategy.

UCDavis-creditUC Davis Graduate School of Management

UC Davis’ Online Entrepreneurship Network Today

On the outskirts of the Bay Area and over one hundred miles from Silicon Valley, the Mike and Renee Child Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship opened its doors 12 years ago. It now serves as the nexus for entrepreneurship education and research—and as a springboard for entrepreneurial initiatives—on the University of California, Davis campus.

In order to support and develop the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and business owners, the Child Institute established a unique ecosystem where students and mentors were given a platform to connect and grow. Using InstaViser’s mentorship software, they created UC Mentors: an online network dedicated to building direct and personal mentoring relationships between students and industry experts in entrepreneurship, finance, technology, and more.

An Outdated Mentorship System

Prior to implementing their online entrepreneurship network, UC Davis faced many of the prevalent recruitment challenges that campus recruiters and talent acquisition leaders face today—notably limited staffing and time constraints, a lack of efficiency, and problems diversifying their pool of participants.

They were no strangers to the fact that the power of mentorship isn’t a novel idea. But effectively amplifying it across a dispersed or fragmented community, especially one as diverse and complex as a university system, is.

“Throughout the last decade, we’ve cultivated a network of mentors, all manually,” said UC Davis Senior Program Manager, Niki Peterson. “It was all done via email invites, list serve invites, and {by} bringing together people in our community around our entrepreneurship and innovation programs and events.”

Finding a Creative Solution

As the Institute’s enrollment increased and programs expanded, Peterson explained that they quickly identified the need to automate the interactions between their growing community of mentors and students, which ultimately led to the creation of UC Mentors in the fall of 2018. The fully integrated platform now provides a place for students and mentors to connect “face-to-face” using live video, providing them with a unique opportunity to tap into expertise outside of the university.

“[Previously,} when we were connecting, say our business competition teams with faculty and alumni industry experts, it was overwhelming to try manually matching them all with appropriate mentors. With the online platform, students can now search for the mentor that has the background and expertise they need. It’s great that they can do it all on their own, faster and with more success, without us having to connect them ourselves,” says Peterson.

So what can campus recruiters and talent acquisition leaders learn from UC Davis’ Online Entrepreneurship Network?

innovation-UC Davis Institute ofr Innovation

Key Takeaways for Campus Recruiters:

  • The Power of a Candidate-Centric Recruiting Experience is Invaluable

In today’s cutthroat hiring economy, a candidate’s experience during the recruiting process is everything. An average of 85% of people report that a positive or negative candidate experience can change their minds about a role or the company entirely.

The Problem

As we have learned from UC Davis, traditional face-to-face, formal interactions and manual matching can result in major program limitations. It’s no secret that companies have limited time and budgets to travel to expensive and time-consuming campus events.

But by leaning into new technologies like UC Davis did, you can help alleviate some of these significant challenges that campus recruiters face today.

Putting Candidates First

By modernizing their entrepreneurship network, UC Davis put students in the driver’s seat. As UC Mentors Program Manager Carolyn Nordstrom put it best, “UC Mentors puts the power of connection in the hands of the student, so they can go onto the site and see who they want to interact with, instead of always having to come to us and ask who we think is the best fit.”

Similarly through new technologies, “recruiting” can and is occurring in new and more effective ways to put the candidate at the center of the experience. Think video chats, advanced candidate/employee matching, and mobile-friendly interfaces, rather than plane rides to campuses, mediocre job fairs, and countless time out of the office.

Learning from Under Armour

Through Under Armour’s Turazo candidate recruiting network, Under Armour is able to invite students into their private network for an inside look into life at the company. By successfully leveraging current employees  and matching them with prospects for one-on-one video sessions, the UA University Recruiting team was able to go from interacting with 20 institutions per year to interacting with over 200 institutions per year in less than eight months. What’s more is that they were able to reach 10x the number of schools while also reducing time out of the office.

Learn how Under Armour taps into a wider and more diverse talent pull with the help of Turazo.

  • Fish Where the Fish Are

Not only does UC Davis’ platform facilitate better collaboration inside the UC Davis Campus, it enables them to tap into expertise outside of the university more importantly.

As their Senior Program Manager Niki Peterson puts it, “we’re really excited about the prospect of being able to connect to not only our local region but areas around the state and country and possibly the world. We’re on the UC Davis campus, but the people we connect with are at universities around the country and the community.”

Diversifying Talent

This concept of a more inclusive approach to sourcing ideas can easily be applied to one of the biggest challenges facing talent recruiters today: diversifying talent pools at scale.

When it comes to diversity recruiting and hiring, the best strategy for building a diverse pipeline ultimately means fishing where the fish are. A limited budget and a small team are quickly becoming poor excuses for not being able to cast a more diverse and inclusive talent acquisition net.

However, we continue to see employers target specific colleges based on their academic merit and not their demographic representation. Actively targeting schools like Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) doesn’t have to break the bank or stretch recruiting teams thinner than they already are.

Finding a Solution

Instead, like UC Davis, imagine managing a network where you can build meaningful relationships, virtually, with otherwise hard-to-reach or under-represented groups.

Through online interviews, you can now easily expand your reach and target different schools without having to visit every campus individually.

Above and beyond the obvious travel cost savings for recruiters, it’s about introducing efficiency into your processes and helping your recruiting team make the best use of their time. This will undoubtedly broaden your efforts to include a significantly larger list of target schools and a more diverse team.

Wrapping Up

Our learnings from UC Davis show us that traditional face-to-face, formal interactions, and manual matching can result in major program limitations. Companies have limited time and budgets to travel to expensive and time-consuming campus events.

The solution? Adding a talent recruitment platform to your tech stack can radically change the way that you attract, nurture, and ultimately land the best people – as seen by the early successes achieved by US Davis’ online entrepreneurship network. Implementing a similar solution can give early talent recruiting teams a leg up on their competition.


With Turazo, companies can easily build and manage an invite-only talent acquisition network that empowers candidates to find and connect with employees human-to-human, using live video. Start selling your candidates on why your company is the right fit for them by putting them in the driver’s seat of their recruiting experience. Schedule a free demo, here.

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