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Ignitus — Connecting Students with Opportunities

Despite great strides in innovative learning, modern curricula, content and enhanced accessibility, the current education industry has failed in one key responsibility. Educators have been consistently ineffective in connecting students with higher opportunities — be it in industry or academia. Even after services like LinkedIn, there is a wide gap between skills required by industry and those possessed by students. It has been reported that, in the country with the largest youth population, India, only 7 percent engineering graduates employable! More specifically, just 3 percent of engineering graduates have suitable skills to be employed in the software market. Furthermore, there’s a general lack of awareness among students; even if they possess relevant skills, they are left behind simply because they are not aware of internship positions, online and offline competitions, and challenges happening across the globe.

In a motivated attempt to solve this problem, we have built a student-friendly, non-profit platform that enables global engagement and intellectual discovery. Ignitus is the name we have given to this initiative. We are a small team spread across the planet, and despite our diverse background, we came together under a united vision of connecting students to opportunities. More formally, Ignitus is a career-guidance and internship recruitment platform which will be used by students and professionals to acquire practical skills and obtain relevant experience. We are currently focused on 6 million+ engineering students in India and a total of 50 million+ science & tech students worldwide.

We aim to accomplish multiple things via this platform. First, we have observed that we are in a 2-sided business. It is true that students miss a lot of opportunities because of lack of awareness and skills. But what is often neglected is the fact that even people on the other side fail to recruit the right talent. Speaking of research, professors often want to hire students from other universities under them for R&D projects but they don’t have ample resources (unlike giant companies) to invest in recruitment.In addition to industry-engagement, Ignitus also aims to bridge this gap between academia projects and students. Moreover, to address the ever-large skills gap, Ignitus will soon be launching multiple training programs for students in mulitple domains — from open source programs like the infamous Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and Rails Girls Summer of Code (RGSoC) to research initiatives like Stanford Scholar Initiative.

Also, Open Source is going to be a big part of this. We value open source so much because it plays a central role in making beginners more comfortable in their work and training them effectively. It is often through open source contributions that one unleashes her true expertise. As noted by famed Googlers Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins, open source contributions are often equivalent to a real internship! Keeping this in mind, we are also collaborating with communities like IEEE Women in Tech (WIT) to make learning and networking in technology more friendly and diverse. Here are just a few leaders who are collaborating with us:

These are few of our leading WIT collaborators

We have also built a sister organization, Coursera Mentors and Learners Organization, to help students get feedback and mentoring on programming assignments of online courses. Here’s what Coursera’s Senior Community Manager said about us:

“…I’d like to highlight this great new initiative started by our Coursera Mentors, Ayush and Divyanshu, to help learners in technical courses get additional feedback on their code. The idea is that learners can upload their code (code they’ve written as part of taking a course, or potentially other practice code) and get feedback from other learners and Mentors, without being limited to the feedback options available through peer reviewed assignments. This can also extend to collectively making real world products. If you’re a Mentor in a technical course you probably want to check it out and let learners in your course know about it.“

— Claire Smith, Senior Community Manager, Coursera, Inc.

Education and skill acquisition is free, especially in computer science. However, what is lacking today, is proper guidance on what to learn and what not to learn; where to practice, how to build resumes and acquire job/research relevant skills. Almost every student wants to build intersting projects alongside her college tuition, learn relevant skills and connect with mentors, but there are a lot of factors that prevent her from achieving these. Lack of motivation, support and awareness are among the top reasons. Ignitus will not only provide a friendly and encouraging community for this student to foster, but also provide her focused training courses on specific opportunities, as mentioned above. Furthermore, Ignitus will also build a profile of this student for the world to see and admire. Let’s understand this further with Jimmy’s story, that will relate to almost every student.

Ignitus will also match students with professors worldwide, based on matching interests!

Jimmy’s goal is to become a machine learning engineer. He has read numerous answers on Quora but they are far from checkpoint based concrete steps. His teachers advice him to read nasty obscure books. His friend advised him to check out Andrew Ng’s online course but he doesn’t know where to go from there. How does all that knowledge transform into cracking interviews or publishing a paper or making a relevant commercial product?

Hopefully, Jimmy stumbles upon Ignitus and registers on ignitus.org. He chooses his goal as ‘Industry level ML engineer’ from the drop-down menu of goals. He also chooses his secondary goal as ‘SDE Engineer for Top companies’ from a neighbouring menu.

Based on his choice, he enters into a custom track designed specifically for his goals. His plan has a Slack channel on the Ignitus Slack community where he can work with his peers (who are on the same plan with the same goals). This provides Jimmy a commmunity of like-minded people. There are also a few industry experts on his channel who are constantly providing new opportunities in his areas of interest. Jimmy now feels very encouraged to study because of the strong academic social environment provided by Ignitus. He also downloads the Ignitus mobile app to keep a track of his progress and learn on-the-go. The app displays everyone’s progress (who are on the same plan). This enduces gamification and Jimmy gets a dopamine shot in his brain with every video lecture/assignment. This, amazingly, further incentivizes Jimmy to learn more and build his reputation. Also, this is how his Ignitus user story looks now:

Jimmy’s Ignitus User Story

At the end of the plan, Jimmy gets a certificate from Ignitus. More importantly, he now has a community of people+experts interested in the same domain and he is now more confident in cracking his interviews. Experts who were connected with Jimmy know him and his skills very well and are quite impressed by his performance throughout the track. All of them provide recommendations of him on LinkedIn and AngelList. This boosts Jimmy’s reach and profile further.

Doesn’t every student want to be Jimmy now? So how can you get involved?

Lean Canvas of Ignitus’ Model

Ignitus is still very much a work in progress, and you can help! You can read more about our work on AngelList and join us on Slack for early access! Stay tuned with our latest news and updates on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter! And as always, keep learning, keep building and keep connecting. But with Ignitus, do it simple, do it better.

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Connecting Students with Opportunities

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Saurabh Chaturvedi

Saurabh Chaturvedi

Passionate. Pythonist. Perfectionist.

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