It’s pretty common for high school and college students to work doing odd jobs over the summer. What is unusual is creating a successful business that connects students with community members who have work that needs to get done.
However, Jake Klepper did just that when he launched Project Jobs in 2017. Klepper, a 2015 Los Altos High School graduate, was home from college for the summer and looking for work to supplement a part-time internship.
He knew that he had a number of marketable skills, everything from landscaping to child care, but there wasn’t a good way to find people who needed such work done. This wasn’t just a problem for Klepper.
“I also had a bunch of friends who … didn’t have summer jobs,” he said. “And there’s this void of a centralized area where teens could go to get jobs for the summer.”
His goal became to create a “centralized hub” where local students could find jobs and homeowners could get work done at an affordable rate.
Although Klepper started by doing jobs for family friends, he quickly began to expand. With a website, Facebook page and mailing list, he soon started to reach a wider audience.
During the summer of 2018, Klepper worked on the business full time. Between the two summers, he estimates that Project Jobs completed more than 100 jobs.
“I wasn’t expecting it to get as big as it did, but I was pretty happy with how it turned out,” he said.
He graduated in the spring from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is now working in sales at a company in San Francisco. Part of the reason he was chosen for the position was because of his experience with Project Jobs, Klepper said.
Passing the torch
Now that he has a full-time job, Klepper has transferred Project Jobs over to two of the other students who worked with him – Casey McConnell and Tyler Goloubef.
“Originally we were both Jake’s friends and we were just looking for jobs over the summer, so we started working for him,” McConnell said.
However, now they are running the company and looking to expand. McConnell estimated that more than 20 students now work with Project Jobs.
“It’s been a great way to see what we can do and how you go about starting something and getting the word out,” McConnell said.
Different workers specialize in different types of projects, whether it’s pet care or home improvement. For Goloubef, one of the appealing parts of Project Jobs is that the workers can choose which jobs to sign up for, picking the ones they have the most experience with.
Ultimately, Klepper credits the company’s growth in part to a strong local sense of community, noting that people want to “hire the kid down the block.”
“A lot of people didn’t want to pay an expensive contractor to come and help (pull) weeds,” he said.
Workers are paid hourly, with the rate negotiated ahead of time. Typically, it costs between $15 and $25 per hour to hire someone from Project Jobs, McConnell said.
Simpler tasks like dog-walking come in at the low end of the range, while labor-intensive home improvement projects cost more.