Getting in front of grad students

Dan Rubinsky VP, Senior Product Manager at Bank of the West

February 12th, 2014

Does anyone have experience (and suggestions on) getting in front of college grad students (Ph.D, Professors, researchers etc…) Is there a communal resource to advertise in?

Leena MBA Content & Publication Manager at NetApp

February 12th, 2014

Hi Dan!

I had the same issues a while back, even while I was a grad student! Schools go to a great length to protect grad students from outside marketing forces that aren't approved in-house...and even getting in front of someone to approve the request is like seeing the Pope. It's very political and also they cite a bunch of security/privacy concerns.

What I did (and what was suggested to me) was to join groups and clubs on campus, so that I could talk to students and also come from a place of common interest. For the groups I did not/could not join, I found out who the presidents of the club were and simply emailed them to ask if I could give a presentation or get in front of the students to demo my product. That also worked.

Hope that helps.


Jonathan Greene Business development executive, technology entrepreneur, start-up advisor

February 12th, 2014

Hi Dan

There is not a great resource to do that - but there should be. It is actually something I am working on trying to figure out. I am an EIR at Cornell's McGovern Venture incubator. So if there is a particular need you have in mind then let me know and I will try to help connect the dots for you.


Mark Neild Empowering quietly creative people to prosper through innovative yet authentic and engaging business models

February 12th, 2014

Dan You could try the Entrepreneurship Educators Network on LinkedIn. There are a fair few members of that group in FE posts that might be able to help you reach the people you want. At least members of that group will understand the space and be less resistant to an approach from someone in business than a purely Academic group. Good luck. Academics tend to be super specialist and to ignore virtually everything outside their specialty. Mark

Dhruv Vasishtha Product Management at Medidata Solutions

February 12th, 2014

Reach out to the administrators and heads of different departments. See how you can help, try to meet in person, see if they would be willing to send out an email to the department listserv asking your questions to the grad students. 

Find professors and do the same for their labs (a lot of successful ventures come from entrepreneurs partnering with research labs and guiding scientists on commercializing their research). 

+1 on reaching out to clubs as well.

Eric Lai Product manager / S/W Engineer / Online Commerce

February 12th, 2014

There's many MBA / Grad program sponsored events on campuses, usually run by students. By asking the student via email / twitter / groups if they would like you to sponsor the next event or even partnering up with that student organization and creating an interesting talk about something that could be relevant to them. They may be open to it.

Our app is targeting students (non grad and grad) and this is our approach, we've been able to schedule some focus groups as well as connecting with the student organizers that run these events. We're working with an organization and plan to do a session with them in the next few months.

You can start this process by either cold email or you can actually attend some of these events and approach them after the panel / event / presentation.

Reuben Steiger PATTERN5

February 12th, 2014

Where? What do you seek ? It's a broad question but maybe there's a quick, useful approach (and free )

Anand Ramachandran Founder & CEO at IdeaGPS

February 13th, 2014

Hi Dan,

The answer to your question likely depends on how many students you're trying to reach.

I've had some success in the past by attending 'pseudo-academic' conferences, usually about an emerging technology or business topic that tends to draw both industry professionals and academics.  The networking there led to invitations to give talks at university programs and classes or join panel discussions.  Some schools also have affiliated institutes which are often a bit easier to access from the outside and yet share the same academics.

A good way to really build a longer-term relationship would be to offer an internship of some sort to a deserving student.

Or sponsor a relevant school program, which need not necessarily involve a lot of money.  The keyword here is relevant.

My 2 c...


Scott Grand Principal Engineer at Amazon

February 22nd, 2014

Having just given a talk about what to do with a Ph.D. these days to a bunch of grad students at UCSD, I would say you need to have an interesting and relevant story to tell.  OTOH If you're just looking to recruit overqualified low-equity low-paid script kiddies, don't bother.  The life of a grad student sucks enough already without you providing them an opportunity to make it even worse (making them the dreaded All But Dissertation (ABD), possibly the most jaded and bitter individuals on the planet).

Grad students are investing a decade or so of their life into something they feel strongly about.  If whatever you're working on is an opportunity to take that further than they could have by becoming post-docs and/or non-tentured professors, there's your opening right there.  Figure out how you can make their lives better and that's how you'll get to them.

To get into the grad student mindset, consider sites like this:

Ph.D. Biochemistry, and 4 years of post-docalypso before seeing the light...