How rising tuition fees and The Apprentice inspired one student to help others find work
When plans were announced in 2011 to raise university tuition fees to their highest level yet, many students were moved to take to the streets in protest.
But 20-year-old Kings College London student Jack Tang took a longer view - choosing to set up a job website aimed at the students who would now need extra cash more than ever.
Just 11 months after its launch, The Student Job has more than 20,000 members and is growing at a rate of 200 each day. Its success has been so great and so rapid that Jack has taken a break from his studies to work full time on his business.
The Student Room spoke to Jack to find out how he got started and what advice he has for other students with entrepreneurial aspirations.
Jack started on the road to business success at an early age. At just 12 years old, he was earning decent pocket-money building computer systems for friends and neighbours. Over time he learned to build websites and write software and was able to sell his creations for profit.
Do you know an inspirational student?
Nominate your Student in a Million in our competition
In February 2011 he first had the idea for The Student Job, spending the next eight months researching it.
"I had the idea when I was already quite busy studying," he says. "I was at university and using all my time to incubate my business idea: planning how it would work, doing my research and getting a team around me to make my plans a reality.
"I was using every single free moment. Juggling like that is hard, but it's doable if you plan your time wisely."
Jack's site has been built on a simple concept: giving businesses a student audience and giving students a platform on which they can find casual work without having to go through a lengthy application process.
The jobs on offer range from telesales to charity fundraising to mystery shopping. There are some high-profile gigs to be found, too. Back-stage staff for the Kanye West and Jay-Z gigs have been recruited from The Student Job, as well as staff for the Olympics and the Brit Awards.
At any one time there are around 1,000 vancacies on the site, with clients including corporate behemoths such as Ernst & Young. The site has been so successful that Jack is already planning a launch in the US within the next 18 months.
It's a remarkable success story, but one that Jack says others can emulate if they are prepared to just get going. "Don't wait on others," he says. "Don't be dependent on others. Try to get things done by yourself or with your team."
And although Jack enjoys watching the TV show The Apprentice, he doesn't see the angry, ruthless approach as a useful model for doing business.
"Maybe that's how you do TV!" he laughs. "But I don't do business how they do it on The Apprentice. What I've found to be important is to be honest and up front, and to formulate good close partnerships where there is a mutual benefit."
The Student Job already benefits from many such partnerships, and Jack says there's no mystery to it. He reveals his secret to getting major clients such as Ernst & Young on board has simply been to go out 'knocking on doors'.
Despite the success, Jack still harbours ambitions of completing his degree, though he says it would be more for personal satisfaction than for a 'bit of paper'
Still, he advises any student weighing up the worlds of work and study to just get out there if they have an idea they are confident about.
"If you have an idea and you have an opportunity, don't think too much about it, don't procrastinate. Do your research and, if that works out, just do it."
It's a rule he clearly lives by and his ambition for the site is huge. Along with the US expansion, he wants The Student Job to become a default destination for anyone between 16-24. "In five years time, every single student across the UK will know about us and know where to turn to if they want a student job," says Jack.
It's a grand ambition, but given how far Jack has already brought his site, we wouldn't bet against him achieving it.