Are you cooking up a small business in you garage, coworking space, or dorm room and in need of a helping hand, but can't yet afford to hire established pros or full-time help? RentAStudent might be a perfect answer. And interestingly, it's also the perfect solution for a problem you may have faced in the past.

Remember the classic student-experience Catch 22: You need skills to get a job and you need a job to gain skills, so how can you begin? The traditional answer to this problem is the internship, but issues with low (or no) pay, menial tasks and lack of mentorship in many of these opportunities are well chronicled.

RentAStudent aims to help both students stuck in this paradox and fledgling small businesses in need of low-cost, skilled help that doesn't entail the communication and logistical challenges of hiring inexpensive workers overseas. How does it accomplish this double act? By matching cash-strapped firms in need of project-based work to students hungry to earn cash and gain experience. That's happy news not only for students struggling to keep themselves in ramen and textbooks while building their professional portfolios, but also for young entrepreneurs looking to bootstrap their enterprises

"Students, when they get to the interview to land their first job, want to show that they have a portfolio of experience," explains CEO and co-founder Morgan Dierstein. "Because what happens today is you arrive at your first interview and you really have nothing to show—you were a waiter and did a summer internship, which is usually meaningless. You just photocopy things."

With unemployment so high among young people and so many struggling to get a foot on that first rung on the career ladder, RentAStudent seems like a winning formula for budding entrepreneurs to start gaining skills in a tight economy.

Published on: Dec 8, 2011