Savanna Vest ‘22
Gig-Hub is a new employment program of paid short-term projects for students through the Jay Hurt Hub for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The program aims to bridge the gap between companies looking for short-term employees and students looking for work during the academic year.
Since its introduction at the end of the 2018 fall semester, Gig-Hub has offered short-term, project-based internship opportunities accommodating a variety of students’ availabilities and skill sets.
Julie Goff ‘05, the Hurt Hub General Manager, conceived of Gig-Hub and has been coordinating the program’s design and implementation for the last year.
“I originally came up with the idea in Spring 2018, after hearing from startups who needed real-time project help and knowing that the rigor of Davidson doesn’t allow for big commitment internships during the semester,” Goff said.
Lauren Crane ‘19, an English major and Digital Studies minor, is one student consultant of Gig-Hub. Crane created a video for a local 3D x-ray technology company in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she is currently developing a website for a writer through another Gig-Hub internship.
“Gig-Hub has been a really great way to get experience working on non-academic projects and connect with professionals that I otherwise would never even know about,” Crane said.
The process to apply for a Gig-Hub internship is very similar to those of most other Davidson College-sponsored positions. Students begin by applying through Handshake to one or more of the eight skill pools—Videography / Photography / Art, Translation Services, Data Analytics, Web Development, Marketing / Design / Social Media, Copywriting / Editing / Web Content, General Research, and Startup Generalist. After applying, students hear back from job offers related to their skill pool and choose which projects they want to get involved in. Students currently working on gigs are called “student consultants.”
“Students apply to these pools and are matched up to these pools based on the skills that they offer.” Will Smith ‘21, a Gig-Hub team member, stated.
Each skill pool is tailored to a different interest, which makes work experience through Gig-Hub accessible to students with many different academic and personal engagements. If students are interested in learning more about a particular skill, students can receive training prior to or during their internship, according to Dr. Laurie Heyer, the Faculty Director for the Hurt Hub.
“The Hub also offers a bunch of training sessions,” Crane said. “For example, I wanted to learn more about how to professionally build a website, so I signed up for their UX and Web Development Workshop. The people and resources the Hub has to offer is the biggest benefit of the program.”
Heyer explained that by offering on-campus, year-round opportunities, Gig-Hub eliminates the limitations of student work experience to only summer opportunities. Students can do similar “gigs” throughout the academic year according to their own schedules.
“The primary goal is giving students professional experience without detracting too much from their academic work…The time can be spread across my regular weekly schedule, and on my own time I get that work done,” Heyer explained.
Altan Tutar ‘20 studies Computer Science and Mathematics and is currently working on a team with two other students to create a data pipeline for Corvid Technologies.
“It’s a good experience for students because you’re not limited to just the summer,” Tutar said. “You can also code and learn while you’re at school, which is very good for computer science and more [disciplines].”
“While I was really fortunate to gain real experience in undergrad, I think so often the only professional experience students can get is over the summer, which is not a consistent position,” Crane said. “Gig-Hub fills that hole and provides a way for students to gain hands-on experience. And they are so welcoming of anyone and really work to find projects that interest you.”
Along with networking and skill-building benefits, many students who have interned through Gig-Hub explained the accessibility the program provides for pay and real work experience during the semester.
“I think the biggest benefit is being able to track my hours and my work, while doing a gig that is similar to a work-study job,” Adrienne Lee ‘21 said. “It is convenient to be paid through [the] college, and to be guaranteed a kind of security that the Davidson bubble offers.”
Lee is a Studio Arts major and Neuroscience minor who is translating a French essay for Van Gogh researcher Jared Baxter ‘93.
Heyer said that Gig-Hub also provides more comprehensive access for all students to obtain work experience during the school year. By removing arbitrariness and bias through a streamlined application system, Heyer said it “levels the playing field” for students to discover and get job opportunities. The Hub also acts as a liaison between companies and student consultants so that gigs go smoothly.
“Via The Hurt Hub, we handle the logistics of time tracking, payroll, contracts, invoicing, etc. so it removes the friction that otherwise keeps companies and students from working together on a contract basis,” Goff said.
The specific workload differs depending on the project, but all students in Gig-Hub will work regularly with a representative of the company sponsoring their project, and in some cases, with other students. This setup allows for student collaboration and communication, and for students to see real-world implementations and results following their projects’ completion.
“You have a mentor in that company, so the mentor is always reaching out to talk to you. I see it more like consulting in a way than working in a company,” Tutar said. “It’s a gig because it’s a very short amount of time that you do to work on this project, and then you get another project, which is good for students.”
Goff said that the Hub looks forward to reviewing the results of their pilot Gig-Hub semester to consider improvements and expansions to the program, including potentially more skill pools and disciplines.
“I think learning in the real world happens once you have a task, and you don’t just have a textbook given to you. You get to figure out, ‘how do I learn this?’ and that’s something you don’t get in traditional school,” Tutar said.