Five months after graduating from Emerson College, Aleks Fonseca was out of a job. Her contact as a community manager at a tech company had expired, and she was back to sifting through job listings.
Fonseca, who graduated in the spring with a degree in writing, literature, and publishing, was using a website catering to community managers and administrative assistants. She was also regularly checking on the popular Emerson Mafia group on Facebook, when GigLions appeared.
“I was unemployed for a month before I found my new job, which I found through GigLions,” Fonseca said in phone interview.
Launched on Sept. 12, GigLions is a free job search site only open to current Emerson students or alumni. Originally conceived as an offshoot of the Mafia Facebook group, its creators said they see it as a streamlined way for the Emerson community to find the best employees and employers—fellow peers and graduates.
The idea for GigLions came from 2007 graduate Max Goldberg, who is an administrator of the 7,500-member Emerson Mafia group. Goldberg, who majored in performing arts and writing, literature, and publishing, saw that Facebook was changing its content display algorithms, which led to posts being pushed down the page more quickly.
While the group often serves as a forum for networking and job openings, members also use it to find roommates, sell goods, raise money, and promote their work. With the jumble of these various posts, people were missing each other. After seeing this happen for months, Goldberg said he suggested in the group that there might be a more effective solution.
“The Facebook thread turned into hundreds of comments and a really overwhelming response as people expressed a real desire for a better system,” Goldberg said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
As Goldberg saw it, creating a separate space for jobs would kill two birds with one stone. People would be able to find job connections easier, and the Mafia could remain a space for other types of listings.
Sam Siskind, who graduated in 2010, said he saw the post and reached out to Goldberg to lend his hand. As a student with a degree in visual and media arts, and concentration in interactive media, and now a marketing and website consulting entrepreneur, Siskind has the knowledge and ideas to help make the page happen.
“We wanted job seekers to be able to use it to find and apply to jobs,” Siskind said, “but then also have employers to use it to browse for candidates in the Emerson community.”
Over the course of a week, he and Goldberg built the page collaboratively, communicating back and forth about features and designs, Siskind said. Goldberg said they put about $1,000 from their own pockets into the project for plugins and cloud storage space. After multiple tests to ensure features worked correctly, it was ready to launch.
The site is free for both candidates and those posting jobs. To verify users are affiliated with Emerson, they must include their LinkedIn profiles when signing up. Siskind said he personally approves all members by checking that their profiles.
Once approved, members can upload resumes, search for jobs in various categories and cities, set up alerts for new posts, and apply directly to a posting on the site. The site allows employers to give information about their companies, search within resumes, and bookmark specific users’ profiles.
In just over a month, it has grown to 676 members—including employers—and there have been 40 jobs posted. Three of the positions have been filled, though Siskind said those employers may have found candidates outside of the site.
Fonseca was one of these hired three. She said she saw on GigLions that HubSpot, a marketing software firm based in Cambridge, was hiring. After applying, the Emerson alum who posted the job helped her secure an interview. She was offered a job at HubSpot, but ultimately decided not to take it.
She went back to the page, and said within a day of applying for Relevant 24, an advertising agency startup in Boston, she got an interview.
“The next day they wanted me to come in,” she said, “so I went into the office, and then two days later they hired me.”
Christine Peterson, a 2009 Emerson graduate, is Fonseca’s boss and posted the job on GigLions. She said that she had previously posted another job opening in the Mafia group, which prompted a deluge of replies—but only for so long before the post disappeared.
“But GigLions, on the other hand, it’s much more searchable, and it’s easier to unearth something that you’re looking for very specifically,” said Peterson, who received a degree in marketing communication.
In addition to these features, Peterson said she likes that GigLions puts all submissions in one place, so she doesn’t have to search through Facebook comments and multiple email inboxes. While other websites offer similar features, she said those applicants may not have the necessary skills.
“I know someone with an Emerson degree has a certain amount of foundational knowledge and likely has relevant internship experience,” she said, “which is specifically what I’m looking for.”
Goldberg and Siskind said they see GigLions continuing to coexist with the Mafia group, and they occasionally comment on job offers in the Mafia group, suggesting the post move to GigLions. Goldberg said they intend to keep GigLions as a side project, and don’t anticipate making money from it.
And they have the blessing of the original Mafia group creator, Tom Grey. Grey, a 2002 Emerson graduate, said he created the original Mafia page on the previously popular social network Friendster, then switched it to Facebook in the late 2000s. From the beginning, he said the Mafia has been about building connections, and recognizes that GigLions is just a different way of doing so.
“I consider them sort of part and parcel the same thing, sort of achieving the same goal. It’s not one versus the other,” said Grey.
So far, Goldberg and Siskind said they believe GigLions is a success. With the number of Mafia members, though, they said they realize it’ll take time to spread the word about their site.
“The more people on the site,” Siskind said, “the more likely that someone is going to know of a job or their employer wants to hire, and also the more resumes are on there and thus, the more valuable it is to employers to browse the site.”