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Caffeine convergence: Ten Thousand Coffees connects students and CEOs

By in Culture

In this fast-paced technologically advanced time, it’s more difficult than ever to stand out in a multitude of job-seeking students and recent graduates.

Dave Wilkin, founder of Ten Thousand Coffees, is creating opportunity for students and recent grads by enabling access to conversations with industry professionals — all over a cup of coffee.

“What can happen when 10,000 of today’s leaders meet with 10,000 of tomorrow’s leaders over 10,000 coffees?” Wilkin said.

Unlike Facebook or its professional counterpart LinkedIn, Ten Thousand Coffees is an online platform where industry leaders and professionals create accounts specifically for the purpose of meeting with the next generation of workers for a mutually beneficial conversation.

Launched in January 2014, Wilkin has invested over five years to build Ten Thousand Coffees with the aim of making it easy and effective for students and recent graduates to build their networking experience with organizations and people.

“With coffee as the currency of opportunity, tens of thousands of people from up-and-comers to industry professionals are gaining access to opportunities they otherwise would not have had,” said Jessica Dell’Aquila, public relations manager for Ten Thousand Coffees.

Wilkin and his team at Ten Thousand Coffees have ongoing conversations and partnerships with CEOs from some of the world’s biggest companies. These industry leaders admit that one of their biggest challenges in business and in their countries is how they can engage in and understand the ideas and insight and talent of the next generation.

“What students don’t realize is that companies are as excited to meet with them as students are to meet companies,” said Wilkin.

Ten Thousand Coffees currently has tens of thousands of participants. Over 30 industries are already involved, including professions from the music, art, graphic design, banking and marketing industries.

“We know that using a resumé and showing up at job fairs or networking events can not only be incredibly difficult for some people, but also incredibly ineffective for most,” said Wilkin.

Wilkin acknowledges that many talented students and recent grads lack the connections, confidence and experience they need to take the next step and ultimately make money doing the things they love. Moreover, industry leaders and professionals struggle to find the best talent through resumés alone.

“So many arts graduates, for instance, have transferrable skills and people skills and unfortunately a resumé doesn’t do anything to show that,” said Wilkin.

Those students or recent graduates who are unfortunately screened out by resumé scanners on paper now have the opportunity to showcase their ideas, insights and passion for the industry over a cup of coffee.

“Ten Thousand Coffees is always eager to collaborate with innovative organizations who share our core values of enabling experiences that move people forward,” said Wilkin.

In February, Ten Thousand Coffees announced a national partnership with the online marketplace leader, Etsy. Together they launched a new “maker” category, which gives aspiring creative minds the opportunity to access a network of established Etsy sellers and other creative industry professionals and provides opportunities beyond coffee conversations.

To celebrate the partnership, Etsy is giving away a $5,000 award to kick-start a student’s burgeoning online business. A panel of judges will review applicants and select the top 20 finalists. They will be looking for well-executed, unique, creative and inspiring ideas that are simple but powerful.

Aside from pairing up-and-comers with industry pros, Ten Thousand Coffees aims to provide students with everything they need to start a business.

“We are challenging all of these creative people to go and join the group and start conversations with real people who have already started their business,” said Wilkin. “What they will see is that they are actually a lot closer to starting their own businesses than they might think.”

For more details on the Ten Thousand Coffees grant opportunity, you can visit resources.tenthousandcoffees.com/grant/

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