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Kristen Hamilton
Kristen Hamilton

Seattle startup Koru, which charged on the scene last year with $4.45 million in funding from Maveron, Battery Ventures, First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, is pushing ahead with its mission to help college grads land great jobs.

The company, led by Onvia co-founder Kristen Hamilton and Josh Jarrett, who previously oversaw the higher education innovation efforts at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today is announcing a partnership with 13 U.S. Colleges and Universities. They include: Bates College, Brown University, Colorado College, Connecticut College, Denison University, Georgetown University, Mount Holyoke College, Occidental College, Pomona College, University of Southern California, Vassar College, Whitman College, and Williams College.

“While graduates of these colleges get a very high quality education in things like critical thinking — highly important to companies in the long term — they lack the real world work experience, skills and tools that are required by employers, and networks to help them land great jobs,” said Hamilton in an email to GeekWire. “Companies know they need to hire great people to succeed, but they can’t figure out who’s a great hire from a resume with so little experience. Koru is providing the experience, skills and networks to land bright, gritty grads in great jobs that are right for them.”

koru11Koru is working with companies such as REI, Zulily, Trupanion and Smartsheet — helping them fill entry-level roles with high-quality candidates. It does this by choosing an “executive sponsor” from each company who chooses a work-oriented challenge for the Koru students. Students and graduates who perform best have the opportunity to receive full-time employment.

“Employers get a chance to see these candidates perform on the job, think on their feet, analyze data, prioritize quickly, learn from their fast failures, get up to speed on new technologies and communicate their ideas,” said Hamilton. “They hire the candidates who are the best fit and they pay Koru if a hire is made.”

In some cases, the colleges and universities are also subsidizing the costs associated with Koru. And with good reason. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 44 percent of recent college grads are underemployed.

In a press release, Denison University President Adam Weinberg said that Koru is helping to “build bridges between college and the professions.”

“Not only are they impacting students, but they are also going to help colleges develop the capacity to rethink and rebuild the process in dynamic, relevant and strategic ways,” Weinberg said.

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