Part-time babysitting turns into career for SHU alum
A part-time babysitting job led to a full-time career for Seton Hall alumna Maura Kolkmeyer (2012). As creator of SitterlyStudents.com, Kolkmeyer has crafted her babysitting business to employ more than 700 students from Seton Hall and 35 other colleges since its start in 2013.
“I had graduated early and had extra time as no full time job offers were on the table nor graduate school acceptances,” the former diplomacy and international relations student said in an email. Using the resources she had available, “I had an idea, a computer and some extra time and decided to put together a site,” Kolkmeyer said.
What started as an idea is now a company that grows by about 100 students per month with 1200 family users, according to Kolkmeyer.
She said that she uses skills learned as a diplomacy student in the process of running Sitterly Students.
“A diplomacy degree gives you a global perspective, makes you a skilled generalist, teaches you how to think from multiple perspectives and paradigms, teaches you to learn fast, take in a massive amount of information and distill it into clear summaries,” Kolkmeyer said. “In my role as Creator of Sitterly, the same skills apply.”
Sitterly Students has expanded from its original name Seton Student Sitters, its current name deriving from the fact that Maura said she became part of the family she babysat for as a student — “Sitter + Family = Sittlery,” Kolkmeyer said.
“I didn’t want to remove Seton Hall from the name, it was a business decision. The beauty of it is that it is a hyper local brand, immediately recognizable in the tight community around Seton Hall,” Kolkmeyer said.
She added that the decision to change the name of her company was an important branding lesson as it expands to school such as George Washington University and George Mason University.
“The demand for a reliable, responsible energetic sitter is high. Families who have two working parents need someone more frequently during the week, mature enough to take kids to activities, tutor or make dinner,” Kolkmeyer said. “College students especially education and nursing majors are a perfect fit and high demand.”
Kelsey Robbins, a junior nursing major, started babysitting through Sitterly Students in spring 2015. Robbins said that she has babysat for two families and has an interview with an additional family next week.
Making money in between a busy college schedule is worth it for Robbins who has made $20 per hour with families in South Orange.
“I like it because it connects college students to families and families are more likely to hire through a website like Sitterly,” Robbins said. “I feel like it’s more open and reliable than Care.com and I know the families on Sitterly, I feel like I can trust them.”
Robbins recommended Sitterly to her friend and roommate Elizabeth DiGiovanni, a junior education and speech pathology major.
DiGiovanni said that she previously babysat for one family in Livingston and received $13 per hour.
“The website was really easy to use to put my information in. So many people were contacting me asking me to babysit for them,” DiGiovanni said. “I chose the family that I did because they were one of the first people to contact me and were able to accommodate me.”
Leah Carton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org