Mannix, founder of Jobs 4 Students, shares his journey, from ideation to resilience, in entrepreneurial pursuit.
Meet Mannix McAlister, the dedicated founder of Jobs 4 Students.
With a mission deeply rooted in education and empowering students to secure meaningful opportunities within the UK, Mannix has fostered a sizable community, creating a supportive space for individuals seeking employment.
Over 13,000 students have already recognised the value of the Jobs 4 Students newsletter, a testament to Mannix's commitment to connecting students with the best opportunities and advice available.
Education isn't just a sector for Mannix; it's a passion that drives him to help students find jobs around campus, internships, and graduate positions.
Mannix also devotes much of his time to Mathematics, tutoring in his free time and directing the funds earned toward sustaining Jobs 4 Students.
In 2020, Mannix came up with an idea that wouldn’t leave him alone, “If we help students find jobs during their degree, then they will turn to us to look for work after their degree."
He was right.
Students would turn to Jobs 4 Students for help, but at the early stage it was crucial for Mannix to get the word out and to build a customer base, even if he wasn't 100% sure what form the business would take in a year, or five years.
Navigating entrepreneurship without understanding your customers is like setting sail without a compass – you might drift, but it's unlikely you'll ever reach your destination.
Understanding the vital role of building a customer base is crucial to success. While the importance of cultivating a customer community might be underestimated initially, it lays the groundwork for long-term growth.
Despite navigating roles in different companies, the persistent pull of Mannix's concept lingered. The pandemic is often the backdrop to so many founder stories, so it's not surprising a spark ignited for him while the country took a breather.
He told us, "During lockdown inspired by my then fiancée, I wanted to finally give this a go." The early stages, however, posed a formidable challenge encapsulated in the simple phrase, "Getting started."
As any founder will tell you, the initial steps are often the most arduous, requiring persistence and determination.
Since the pandemic, everything has changed. Working from home is less of a luxury now and more the standard as employer and employee expectations shift.
What does this mean for the average person? Well, there's a suggestion that we're losing the personal touch - that technology is, in reality, making us more isolated and lonely.
Whether or not that's true is up for some debate, but it has prompted founders to engage with people in a way they maybe wouldn't normally consider. What about a handwritten letter in place of an email or slack message? The notion of a handwritten letter is too antiquated now, right?
Well, not entirely, as folks seek alternative ways to communicate with more feeling. More humanity.
In a world dominated by digital interactions, Mannix, intentionally incorporates a personal touch to stand out. By going beyond the often impersonal realms of emails and social media, he takes the time to write handwritten letters, underscoring the significance of forging authentic connections.
"I have been reaching out to many of them by writing handwritten letters and sending them in the post," he explains, emphasising the importance of a personal connection.
In the era of digital dominance, especially with the rise of AI, incorporating traditional gestures becomes a potent strategy for founders to distinguish themselves and enhance engagement.
Some things just can't replace the genuine human touch.
Personal connections and going the extra mile stand out in a tech-dominated world, creating lasting impressions and memorable connections. Embracing the personal touch remains irreplaceable, ensuring those that take the time, like Mannix, will be remembered.
Motivation isn't constant.
There are days when we're ready to tackle even the biggest challenges, and days when we'd rather not. It's totally normal, and totally human to feel this way. Mannix shares this sentiment, and admits, "Keeping motivation over the past three years has been the biggest obstacle."
Recognising that motivational lows are transient, Mannix developed resilience, ensuring that these dips didn't derail his overall progress.
Doubt, a routine visitor in the entrepreneurial journey, knocks on the door every few weeks.
Mannix, candidly sharing this experience, offers a simple remedy: "This happens every few weeks - a good night's sleep helps!" It's a testament to the importance of self-care in the face of entrepreneurial challenges. As Anne Lamott would say, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you."
Scaling Jobs 4 Students has required a versatile toolkit. Mannix experimented with a range of strategies saying, "I have tried everything: social, SEO, direct reaching out, Facebook Groups, adverts." The entrepreneurial journey is not one-size-fits-all; it's a dynamic puzzle requiring daily adaptability.
Balancing multiple tasks is a usual juggling act for a founder, all the while contending with scepticism from both external sources and personal doubts.
Mannix reflects on that scepticism: "Yes, both from others and myself, I am still testing the idea, which is why I have kept it lean, just a newsletter." Keeping it lean allows for nimbleness in response to feedback.
Reflecting on critical decisions, Mannix notes, "There haven't been any biggest decisions, just a lot of small ones every day!" It underscores the significance of daily choices in shaping the trajectory of a startup, like the subtle shifts in the wind altering the course of a sailboat over time.
For those starting their entrepreneurial journey, Mannix advocates patience and strategic planning: "Don't quit your job, find ways of testing your idea without taking up too much time. Post on LinkedIn often; not only will this boost your visibility, it will help refine your ideas."
While long-term mentors are yet to be part of Mannix's story, he acknowledges the wealth of support received: "I've not had long-term mentors yet - I would like one, but I have had plenty of help and guidance and ideas and coffee from others along the way! Conor Graham and Scott Wylie to name two."
To find out more about Mannix, visit Maths with Mannix or Jobs 4 Students. You can also sign up to the Jobs 4 Students newsletter, which helps 13,000 students find jobs around campus, internships and graduate jobs.