Our society puts a lot of emphasis on the college degree as a key step towards job readiness. In doing so, we tend to overlook the other ways in which knowledge and expertise can be shared. These can include internships and mentorships, both of which place student-learners in situations where they can hands-on experience and advice from actual practitioners in their field. And these may be particularly important for those wanting to become tech entrepreneurs as, arguably, a college degree might not be the best preparation.

Internships, Mentorships, and Tech Startups

We’ve written here before about the importance of making sure that internships place college students with startups. As Andrew Maguire, co-founder of InternMatch, once told me, “The college recruiting experience is broken,” and many internship programs are dominated by large corporations. That makes it difficult for startups to recruit interns and making it difficult too for students who might be interested in the startup world to find companies with which to work.

InternMatch helps tackle that problem by – as the name suggests – helping to match students with internships at startups, non-profits and small businesses. But the company is launching a contest now that highlights that other important element of career prep: mentorship.

InternMatch is giving you the opportunity to win a mentorship lunch with Robert Scoble.” The contest is open to anyone (you needn’t be a college intern to apply).

The winner will get the opportunity to turn the tables on the influential video blogger and tech evangelist and interview him – with a video camera, of course – about how he got his start in the tech world.

Most notably, says Scoble, that start was actually in part due to a college internship, something that he describes as “the most important thing I did in college.” As a journalism student, Scoble took an internship with Fawcette Technical Publications, which was itself a startup at the time. “If it wasn’t for the internship, I would have never imagined working at a startup,” says Scoble.

How to Enter

In addition to Scoble’s work as a videographer, he’s known as a prolific user of both Twitter and Quora. So the folks at InternMatch are asking you to engage with some of the questions that Scoble has posted on Quora. The finalists will be chosen from those with the most upvotes as well as those selected with the best overall responses:

  1. What interview question are you most excited to ask Robert and why?
  2. What technology company do you think will spur the biggest innovation in 2012?
  3. What technology trends do you think will most dramatically change the world by 2015?

In order to show that you’re entering the contest (and not just asking questions on Quora to share your insights), you’ll need to tweet your answer: “Check out my answer on why I want to interview Robert Scoble [link to answer] @scobleizer @internmatch #killthecoverletter”

The competition will run through July 15th.