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Starting Fresh with Kate (Toolan) Madden '01

Carrie (Fontaine) Davis '01 and Kate (Toolan) Madden '01
January 4, 2017

If you’re a student looking for a summer beach job or you’re a Jersey shore business owner looking for employees, Kate (Toolan) Madden ’01 can point you in the right direction with her newest service. 

Madden is the president and co-owner of Fresh Start Careers LLC, a full-range career services provider for companies and job candidates. She and Carrie (Fontaine) Davis ’01, executive vice president and co-owner, launched the Philadelphia-based boutique staffing agency in early 2016.

The duo is ready to launch their latest venture, JerseySummerJobs.com, an online job board dedicated to seasonal employment solutions in New Jersey shore communities. They are looking for a few good Royals to post or fill these seasonal positions and spread the word about the program.

According to Madden, the site offers several unique benefits for candidates and employers alike – especially convenience.

“I was fortunate to spend a few summers during college at the shore. Things haven’t changed much in the last 15-20 years,” she said. “Businesses put a ‘Help Wanted sign on the door hoping that people will come by and fill out a paper application. Our goal is to bring that entire conversation online and streamline the hiring process.”

By using this free application platform, students no longer need to spend an off-season weekend knocking on doors to secure employment. Now they can apply online from the comfort of their living room via their smart phone. They (and their parents) can rest easy knowing that the site vets all employers as legitimate ‘brick and mortar’ businesses.

On the opposite side, the site offers employers speed and convenience for posting positions and reviewing applications at their own pace. And because of unique partnerships with schools like The University of Scranton, Madden said this job board provides employers with a deep pool of talented candidates.

The site will offer free job postings to employers in January as part of their launch year promotion and will then begin charging nominal fees of $20-$30 in February.

“Promote your jobs and business on our site and we will bring the staff to you,” Madden said to potential employers. “We can save you time, money and frustration. Your next hire is just a few clicks away.”

The site is also seeking student ambassadors to help endorse operations and build a strong pipeline of jobs during the spring semester. Entrepreneurial students can earn commissions by leveraging their personal connections with business owners in these shore communities.

“(Student ambassadors) will earn referrals on any paid job posting that is placed through our platform,” Madden said. “They’ll make money while building up their resumes at the same time. It’s a win-win.”

To help Madden and Davis launch jerseysummerjobs.com, Madden reached out for business development advice from President’s Business Council (PBC) executive director Tim Pryle ’89, who introduced them to Donna Simpson, consultant manager at the University’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and member of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Center (WEC) – a partnership between the SBDC and The Kania School of Management (KSOM). According to Madden, Simpson loved the concept and the pieces started to fall into place.

Simpson recruited three student interns to assist during the fall semester: Denise Rizzo, Kaylee Burns, and Claire Marangelli. They assembled targeted databases of school administrators / business owners and provided social media marketing guidance for a strategic two-pronged approach. Simpson also enlisted SBDC Business Consultant Keith Yurgosky to help with search engine optimization (SEO), and SBDC Special Projects Coordinator Francene Dudziec to provide graphic design support.

Additionally, Madden said Jason Schwass G’14, KSOM assistant director for Student Internships, offered to distribute info among the student body while Joe Cleary ’84, CFO of Morey Pier (Wildwood), shared helpful insights on the unique staffing challenges facing shore communities.

Madden and Davis are grateful for the encouragement they have received from their alma mater.

“The positive reception and generous support from students, faculty, staff and alumni has been incredible and humbling,” Madden said. “I’m excited to see this vision become a reality for the 2017 summer season.”

The seeds of Madden’s work at Fresh Start were planted during her time at Scranton. While president of the Business Club, she helped launch the 1st Annual KSOM Recruiting Expo & Fall Dinner on Oct. 5, 1999, a date seared in her memory.

“We planned several workshops leading up to the main event – interview preparation, resume writing, dress and dining etiquette – to help our fellow students put their best foot forward,” she said. “This successful experience was a defining moment. It was proof that anything is possible through hard work.”

After graduation, she continued to help friends and family with their resumes in her free time while working in the pharmaceutical R&D industry. Realizing that her true passion was helping others find their career paths, she became a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) and founded Fresh Start Resumes LLC, the sister company to Fresh Start Careers.

“It was a difficult decision to leave a secure job, but I needed to take this chance,” she said. “I’m so happy that I did. I have no regret.”

Madden, a married mother of “three future Royals” credits the University for encouraging her to follow her heart.

“My Jesuit education laid a strong foundation for my personal and professional growth.” she said. “Magis – a restless pursuit of excellence grounded in gratitude - is central to the Ignatian vision. I keep this concept front of mind … always.”

Madden and Davis look forward to returning to campus next month to continue working with The University of Scranton community. Business Club President Jessica Signore ’17, whom Madden met at a PBC networking event in Philadelphia, has invited them to present on the JerseySummerJobs business model at the club’s February meeting.

Her advice for students? 

“There is a world of opportunity out there,” she said. “Don’t put limitations on yourself. Be open to the possibilities. If I can do it, anyone can!”

For more information on Fresh Start Careers, visit freshstartcareersusa.com. For more information on securing a summer job on the Jersey shore, visit jerseysummerjobs.com. For more information on Fresh Start Resumes, visit freshstartresumes.com or contact Madden at kate.madden@freshstartcareersusa.com.

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