When we first heard about inDegree, pitched to us as a LinkedIn for graduate students, our initial response was, "Yes, but don't graduate students already have LinkedIn?"

This startup's CEO, Alexander Miningham, responded that while many grad students do indeed see some job hunting success via the behemoth site, many others have not yet built the professional networks to find a great deal of value there. As LinkedIn grows ever larger, more of us are relying on our networks for word-of-mouth, referrals, and recommendations. Miningham's point stands; so what does inDegree propose to offer as a substitute for a large professional network?

New users of the site are placed in what Miningham called "education networks," which allow users to find and connect with classmates or alumni - who are arguably more useful in a job-search scenario. Users can share documents and work collaboratively through the site. Job listings on the site are for advanced degree-holders only, which creates a welcome bottleneck for jobseekers.

"Through research," wrote Miningham, "we've found that graduate students are looking for a more dedicated site that fits their specific needs. Coupled with the services we plan to offer in 2010, we are confident that graduate students and alumni will rapidly adopt the website. inDegree is also the first website that connects these 4 user groups in one centralized location (graduate students, alumni holding graduate degrees, employers, and universities)."

InDegree launched in beta in May to Florida State University business students and launched publicly August 31. Currently, all accounts and postings are free of charge for all users, including universities and companies.

In early 2010, inDegree plans to roll out matching services similar to the models established by eHarmony.com and Match.com. InDegree proposes to match grad students and alumni to open positions with consideration for job types, experience required, location, salary, specializations, licenses, and other criteria. At that point, the site will charge employers and universities for matches, although job-seeking grad students will still be able to use the site and find matches free.

It's an interesting concept, and one that will require plenty of user adoption to work effectively. And we get the impression that effective pitching to universities will be one of the most important ways to increase user adoption. The interface on the site needs work; it doesn't have a professional look and feel, and the site's features and benefits are not compellingly highlighted.

Although these aspects need work, we can see the "matching" concept working well for grad students in the future. What do you think? Grad students and alums are especially encouraged to weigh in.