Website aims to help grads with life after college

June 19, 2010

After four—or more—years in college, many new graduates still have a lot to learn: how to use a French press to make coffee, for example, or how to properly hang a shirt. And then there are the perks of a brown-bag lunch.

McLaughlin McLaughlin

Cate McLaughlin and Kyle Falk aim to help.

Their website, askcateandkyle.com, features video responses to questions their visitors pose. So far, they’ve received nearly 100 questions and produced more than 50 videos.

“After college, you realize, ‘There was no class for this,’” said McLaughlin, who graduated with Falk from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2009.

Falk Falk

The partners, both 23, started the website last July to help recent graduates deal with the trials and tribulations of life after college. Their potential audience is huge. Experts expect the millennial generation—those born between 1982 and 2000—to overtake baby boomers in numbers when the 2010 U.S. Census is complete.

Although millennials tend to pursue “meaningful life experiences” like spring break mission trips, they often lack practical knowledge and skills, said Debra Fiterman of Minneapolis-based BridgeWorks LLC, a consulting firm that focuses on generational compatibility in the work force.

“We’re finding that millennials are coming into the workplace full of life experiences—building houses in Haiti, Hurricane Katrina relief. But they have far less work experience,” she said. “There aren’t people who have worked a cash register at Dairy Queen in the summer.”

Still, it takes time to build a following. McLaughlin’s and Falk’s website gets just 800 or so page views a month, and its Facebook page about the same.

The video format and use of social media—25 percent of the website’s traffic comes from clicks through Twitter and Facebook—are appealing to recent graduates, said Molly Chavers, executive director of IndyHub, a 5-year-old organization of young professionals in Indianapolis.

“You’re able to get information out more readily,” Chavers said. “It’s communication from a real-time perspective.”

Despite the potential, the website co-founders don’t expect to profit from their efforts for some time. Indeed, McLaughlin and Falk both have day jobs—she works as an account executive at Van Ausdall & Farrar, an Indianapolis-based office technology supply company, while he is a financial representative for the life insurer Northwestern Mutual.

For now, the aim is to improve content, which presumably will boost popularity, leading to more visitors—and, they hope, attract advertisers along the way.

Having to juggle the site with their day jobs has forced the duo to look for help providing content. They have discussed collaborations with Kyle Lacy, owner of social media marketing firm Brandswag, WISH-TV Channel 8’s financial expert Peter Dunn—also known as Pete the Planner—Rainmakers Marketing Group CEO Tony Scelzo, and certified etiquette consultant Andrew Carson.

Still, even if advertisers materialize, they’re not likely to flood the two with cash.

New York resident Raeanne Wright started her site, collegeaftermath.com, five years ago after getting her degree from Rochester Institute of Technology. Despite topping the search-engine results for “life after college” queries, Wright just recently received her first $100 check for three years’ worth of “pay-per-click” Google ads.

The askcateandkyle.com founders have only had to invest about $1,000 in their site, thanks to assistance from McLaughlin’s older brother and sister. Darrin McLaughlin, an IT consultant, helped build the site, and Maura McCarthy, who has worked as a brand manager for Nestle, helped develop the site’s image. Taking into account their contributions, the investment in the site so far totals over $10,000.

“I feel like our generation is often talked at,” McLaughlin said. “This is really just meant to be a communication tool.”

The site delivers something that has not been available before, the partners said.

“People who like to cook at home have Rachael Ray,” Falk said. “Homemakers … have Martha Stewart … People who want to be responsible with their money have Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. We don’t have anybody.

“We want to be that. We want to be the Martha Stewart.”•


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