For some, the decision to become an entrepreneur is fueled by a passion to do what they love; others want to fill a need in the marketplace. Sheridan alumnus Charles Javelona, CEO and Founder of Univjobs, was driven by both reasons.
Javelona’s entrepreneurial spirit was sparked during his time as a student in Sheridan’s Computer Systems Technology – Software Development and Network Engineering program. After talking with fellow students, Javelona discovered that traditional job boards were not targeted to students or recent grads. “It was surprising to see that this was a common problem for a lot of students,” says Javelona.
“Employers are asking for two to three years’ experience for entry level positions,” adds Trevor Dewan, Sheridan alumnus and Marketing Executive at Univjobs. “If students don’t have a co-op in their program, they likely won’t be able to meet that criteria.”
As a student, Javelona created the Toastmasters and Computer Science clubs at Sheridan, as well as the Regional Hack-a-thon, and wanted to create something bigger. “It was a natural progression for me to go from building these clubs to building something more impactful,” he explains. Thus, the idea for Univjobs was born.
Univjobs is a job board targeted specifically to students and recent grads. Its purpose is two-fold: to help students earn extra money while they’re in school (by posting service-oriented and general labour jobs), and to help them launch careers in their fields of study through posting internships and entry-level jobs.
The site includes sections for both students and employers. Students who register are able to view and apply to job postings for free, while employers pay a fee to post jobs and begin the recruitment process. The site is continually evolving, based on student feedback. “Our platform gives students the opportunity to connect with meaningful career opportunities that will help them in the future,” says Dewan.
Univjobs began as a landing page in summer 2017, as a way for Javelona to test whether the stories he heard from fellow students about their job search challenges translated to the marketplace. Within a few days of putting up the landing page, a few hundred students signed up for the platform. “That validated that there was a need on the student side,” says Javelona. “The success of the landing page made us think about building a platform for this, and here we are.”
The Univjobs team consists of Javelona, along with Khalil Stemmler (CTO and Founder), Julio Sueiras (Infrastructure Developer), Dewan and Mentors Judy Lindenbach and Gurdeep Singh.
Renee Devereaux, Manager, Entrepreneurship and Changemaking at Sheridan, started working with Javelona at Sheridan’s EDGE entrepreneurship hub during his co-op term, and was excited about the Univjobs idea. “Charles had that really high commitment level and deep interest in what he was trying to pursue, and when you’re around people who are that excited about their idea, they’re good at bringing other people onboard,” she says. “Even though it’s a long and winding road, they’re going to make their way through it.”
“It’s fun for me to see the progression of other students who have used our platform. They have moved beyond their first job, and we’ve seen their growth throughout. That’s a passion for me, seeing people growing through our platform and actually making a difference in their careers.” – Charles Javelona
EDGE helps entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs build their ventures by providing networking and mentorship opportunities, co-working space, and entrepreneurship training. EDGE currently supports 40 start-ups. “With EDGE, I get the opportunity to build brand awareness, as well as the mentorship, the space, and the platform to interact with different start-ups at different levels. It provides the platform for everyone to know us, because EDGE has given us that exposure,” says Javelona.
Since Univjob’s official launch in September 2017, over 2,000 students have signed up from approximately 40 colleges and universities across Ontario, and approximately 113 employers have posted jobs on the site, all based on word of mouth.
“Charles understands how students would like to navigate finding work, what tools they use and what doesn’t work for them. He understands it from an employer perspective as well, but he knows what it’s like to be a student in that position,” says Devereaux.
Javelona says being an entrepreneur and running Univjobs has been both personally and professionally rewarding. “There has been a lot of personal growth, I’m learning fast and have accumulated so much knowledge,” he says. “It’s fun for me to see the progression of other students who have used our platform. They have moved beyond their first job, and we’ve seen their growth throughout. That’s a passion for me, seeing people growing through our platform and actually making a difference in their careers.”
Pictured at top of page: Charles Javelona at the EDGE Entrepreneurship Hub.
Written by: Tina Dealwis, Digital Communications Officer at Sheridan.