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Yahoo Kickstarts Social Network For College Students and Alumni

Yahoo launched a social network Monday for college students and alumni looking to launch their career. Take Facebook, add a dose of LinkedIn, and you get Yahoo’s Kickstart service.

Digital Journal – College students can go to Facebook to chat with friends, and they can join LinkedIn to find professional contacts. Yahoo is trying to blend the best of those worlds with its latest leap into social networking with the launch of Kickstart, built by Yahoo’s Advanced Products team in San Francisco.

Still in its early sages, Kickstart aims to help college students and alumni network with possible employers as they transition from school to career. Kickstart’s website sums up its mission: “Kickstart is designed to facilitate connections between students, alumni and real professionals working at companies and organizations throughout the United States. Students and professionals alike can quickly and easily create profiles, browse or search for people and instantly connect.”

Judging by the site’s intentions and marketing blurbs, the social network is concentrating on U.S. residents.

Kickstart’s focus on students and alumni goes beyond job opportunities. In the future, the website will offer career advice for members. For now, users are automatically connected to alumni or students from their respective school. Once the network grows, Kickstart will implement event calendars, message boards and the ability for recruiters to join.

To help build membership, Yahoo announced a contest for Kickstart newbies: the college or university who signs up the most members on the social network before Dec. 31 wins a $25,000 prize.

Kickstart is Yahoo’s latest pursuit into the crowded market of social networks, but its track record isn’t encouraging. Yahoo 360 attempted to blend blogging and a user community, and it failed to attract major attention. Also a thorn in Kickstart’s side are business-centred applications for sites like Facebook or Google’s OpenSocial, which will do what Kickstart does on already-established social networks. Can Kickstart give users something unique?

It remains to be seen if Kickstart will gain traction in U.S. colleges. There is already Facebook saturation in many cities, and if a social network backlash begins to take root, expect Yahoo’s new service to face the same fate of its Yahoo 360 venture. On the other hand, Kickstart might be Yahoo’s best shot at storming into the social network industry to finally make its mark.

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