Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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Fuel your ambition: Stryke connects students and professionals in a new way to network
Fuel your ambition: Stryke connects students and professionals in a new way to network
By Carly Gist, Staff Reporter • June 9, 2024

A recent Southern Illinois University graduate has created an app in hopes of strengthening professional networking relationships. Stryke, a...

Fuel your ambition: Stryke connects students and professionals in a new way to network


A recent Southern Illinois University graduate has created an app in hopes of strengthening professional networking relationships. Stryke, a platform that is described by its team as “LinkedIn meets Bumble” released this spring. 

“[It’s] a new way to build your professional network. We do the hard work for young professionals by getting them connected to the right people through our AI driven matching system, which we call the success engine,” said CEO and Founder Crystal Kendzior. 

She said the company focuses on “the relationship building aspect of networking.” 


“Unlike LinkedIn, where there’s a social feed, things like that, we really focus on the conversation more than anything else,” she said. 

Kendzior graduated from SIU with a degree in economics in 2022. It was there that she was able to build a professional network, which in turn, inspired her to create Stryke. 

“SIU changed my life,” she said. “My journey at SIU was the catalyst behind launching it because I was connected to a mentor at SIU, they put me in the political world, and that’s when I kind of realized this whole importance of building our connections and networking.” 

She credits her peers for helping her launch the app. She also drew inspiration from various other platforms in hopes of making the process of developing connections easier for others. 

“I think the entire reason I started Stryke was because I was able to build my professional network,” she said. “And those individuals, those mentors and peers, kind of helped guide me into the right opportunities and helped me successfully launch and I realized that a lot of my peers were struggling to build their networks. So I really appreciated the ease of the swipe engine, like Bumble and other dating apps have, but also the professional atmosphere of LinkedIn.” 

When creating an account, users will select if they are a student or professional. After that, they will be greeted by unique questions regarding their major, school, interests and more. 

“Once you’re in the app, the first thing you’ll see is your profile, which you can edit everything you just filled out in onboarding and we have some other additional questions, you can upload more photos,” she said. “Then we have the success engine and [we’re] going to give you a limited number of swipes per day to make it more intentional; to ensure you’re not just endlessly swiping.”


While the app does not currently have any paid features, Kendzior said the company does plan to incorporate them in the future. She mentioned that the first 1000 users will be offered lifetime access to all premium features, and there are currently around 200 spots locked. 

She also discussed the app’s connection list and chat page, which shows all recent connections and ongoing jobs.

“On Stryke, you’re able to manage those connections long term, rather than it just being kind of a short term solution, kind of like other dating sites are,” she said. “So you can manage all those relationships on Stryke. And then we also have a QR code. So when you’re networking in person, you can scan each other’s QR code and [converse on] Stryke.” 

With the help of three student ambassadors, the app has been growing in popularity in Carbondale. Audrey Dowland, a rising sophomore at SIU, joined the team after hearing about the position from the president of her sorority, which Kendzior is also an alum of. 

“She sent a message to the group chat on Snapchat, like ‘Hey, an old alumni has a marketing internship, if anyone [is interested] I can send you her contact,” Dowland said. “So I was like, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I just needed to get some experience [in] the marketing field and I honestly didn’t know she [Kendzior] was that young, like, I just thought it was a small little company in Carbondale that needed someone. But then she reached out to me, we set the zoom and I was like, ‘Oh, okay…this could work, like she’s cool. She knows how to work with people.’ So that’s how I got involved with Stryke, and it’s been really fun.” 

Dowland’s primary task as an ambassador this past semester was to reach out to SIU’s registered student organizations, including Greek life and the American Marketing Association, in hopes of getting their members to demo the app once it was on the App Store. 

“I would keep in contact with all of the presidents,” she said. “I talked to Women’s Business Association…Saluki Enterprise Corps…And [once] the app was out, I reached out, so I’d be like ‘Hey, the apps out if you guys want to download it,’ and we also gave presentations there, so they could be more aware of what the app was.” 

Dowland said the primary focus was field marketing. 

“We did email marketing, just reaching out to people. We hosted an Ignite Dinner…We also went to the career fair in February and talked to businesses and gave them our cards, gave them the brochures so they could reach back to Crystal and ask her more questions…I [also] conducted a list of 200 students from Carbondale and gave her the names, emails and their majors.”

The Ignite Dinner was organized by Yolina Lindquist, an upcoming senior at SIU. Lindquist called it a “career networking dinner.” 

“I organized that [and] each one of the brand ambassadors–there were three this semester–we invited five, career-oriented, goal-seeking individuals and connected them,” Lindquist said. “A lot of them didn’t know each other already; all from different backgrounds, different majors, seeking different career paths, and we had like a two-hour dinner. We were talking [about] our career goals, how we were connected, like-minded, and just how we help each other succeed.”

Lindquist joined Stryke after hearing about it from her friend Isaiah Wilkerson, who is also an ambassador for the app. 

“I met with the CEO [Kendzior] and I loved her idea, I loved the platform, so I was like ‘sure, I’m on board. Let’s do this,’” Lindquist said. 

She said he was already heavily involved on campus, and Stryke sounded like “a perfect opportunity” to “grow [her] own platform and resume and also help build a stance.” 

“Because it was such a start-up, I mean that’s just such an amazing thing to say you helped with,” she said. “So, it was just really awesome that my connection that I would have never expected to land me an internship, did exactly that.” 

Lindquist said her coworkers have been her favorite part of working on the platform. 

“[Kendzior] is genuinely so sweet, so amazing, she’s so easy to work with,” she said. “And then the other two ambassadors…they’re always lending a helping hand…I did a lot of the organizing and the communicating with people, and then once I was like, ‘Okay, I really can’t come to this, like I’m so overwhelmed by everything else.’ They were like, ‘Oh no, we got it like, don’t even worry, you already did the hard work.’ So I was really grateful for the team that I had.” 

She encourages students to use Stryke, because she believes it is more accessible to younger generations. 

“I’m on LinkedIn, I’ve used Handshake, I understand why teachers push us to use them, but they are such a 20th century platform,” she said. “They’re really not geared for our generation’s minds. We are very tech-savvy individuals. We’re so used to using platforms where you swipe left, right, where you can just do a search engine…With what we’re used to I think [Stryke is] easier to access, easier to understand, connect.”

She also said the limited swipes help users ensure that users make their connections meaningful.

“You can’t just swipe, swipe, and also I think we have 10 days to send a message and actually connect with them. So it makes you actually put in the work, make meaningful connections, use your time valuably, which are all great for going into your career,” she said. 

She added, “It wasn’t made for already professionals, it was really made for students that are coming into the workforce and needing that little extra push to help get them to connect to the resources and jobs that they need.”

The app also has student ambassadors at Northern Illinois University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and more. Dowland said that Kendzior has started with growing the app in Illinois and plans to branch out to other states from there. 

Stryke is currently available on iOS, but Kendzior said they have plans to launch the app on Android this summer. She said the app will always be centered around “empowering young professionals.” 

“I really want it to be this space, where you can build up that support system so you can walk confidently into the workforce, knowing that you have the resources behind you,” she said.


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