This sounds like a great idea for students to get some real-world exposure, without the commitment of an internship. I see the benefits for employers as well - generating new ideas for very low cost. I have some concerns about the "automatic matching" through the Matchmaker platform. Is it based solely on the criteria you outlined ("jobs to be done", flexibility and commitment levels)? Are there other factors considered? How does the software analyze matches, based on such simple criteria? Is this software proprietary and already developed?
Also, have you considered if this Matchmaker platform would cover all areas of academic studies? Perhaps, it would be better suited for certain areas. For example, what type of work would a firm ask from a biology class? What type of work would be asked from a finance class? Music class? English class? A narrower academic scope may help refine the platform. Let me know your thoughts!
I really like the idea of bringing a mobile higher education platform to students who may not have access otherwise. Education can transform someone's life and present great opportunities to make an impact.
I have a few questions regarding the logistics of such a mobile platform. Would the same advisor be working with the same students every week (or however often the meetings are)? Would different advisors be in the bus for different academic subjects? Also, in the description, it mentions a scenario where "an advisor could be working through a financial aid process with one student while another participates in an online project from a different college." Are advisors serving as teachers or are they acting more as facilitators? In other words, do they teach content or simply provide opportunities for students to exercise their knowledge?
I think mentorship is extremely important to a student's professional development, so I believe this idea would be very beneficial. As an undergraduate business student, networking and speaking with alumni has been one of the most critical parts of my development - conversations outside of school helped me realize what professional areas interest me.
I understand that originally, the project was designed to place the student at the mentor's place of work. What was the rationale for allowing other work placements? What would incentivize a mentor to refer a strong student elsewhere? I would be concerned about a conflict of interest - say, an outstanding student whose academic interests aren't 100% aligned with the mentor's firm, but he/she wants to retain him/her as a source of talent and does not refer the mentee to the most fitting firm. What are your thoughts?