Peter Nguyen, ’18, president of the Create Club, was not impressed when he went to the general career fair as a freshman and saw big-name companies only offering jobs, not internships. As a result, he came up with the idea for the Startup Meet-up.
As a result, the first Startup and Entrepreneur Meet-up was held at Ben Franklin TechVentures on Lehigh’s Mountaintop campus Thursday, Feb. 16.
The event allowed students to meet with smaller startup businesses, network and look for internship and job opportunities. The event worked in conjunction with the general career fair to provide students with opportunities in more diverse fields.
“The general career fair was helpful but definitely a little overwhelming,” Ben Teeple, ’19, said.
There were 159 companies at the fall career fair and about 80 companies at the spring career fair, said Richard Freed, director of employer outreache at the Center for Career and Professional Development.
Nguyen said he mentioned the idea of the Startup Meet-Up event to a few people and both students and start ups seemed to like it.
He also recognized there was a growing trend of students who wanted to be more involved in entrepreneurship, but didn’t know where to go. Getting in contact with startups seemed like the perfect answer, he said.
“Interns at startups have much more impact on the company,” Nguyen said. “I thought that the students should feel real pressure.”
Through the Baker Institute, Nguyen was connected with company contacts who allowed him to start organizing the event.
Freed said it was entirely the the Create Club that set everything up, introduced the companies and made sure the event ran smoothly.
The first 30 minutes of were dedicated to startup representatives to meeting one another. There were representatives from Eventuosity, Whipped Up LLC, zLabs, Spray-Tek, ProCasa, NextShift, FunnelKake, Flocktamer and Flip.
Each of the nine companies gave a four- to five-minute overview of their missions to about 40 students in the audience.
“The main goals of the event were to provide a networking opportunity and create an awareness of the different companies’ internships,” Freed said.
Immediately after the company introductions, students could visit stations around the room to get talk one-on-one with people from potential future employers.
“Everyone wants a career fair for their own major and interests and, as a result, we are starting to have these ‘shoulder events,” Freed said.
These shoulder events, such as an event the Chemical Engineering Club hosts each year, allow the general career fair to maintain its large scope while still providing students with the opportunities to look at specialized positions and companies, Freed said.
The Create Club also wanted students to break out of their bubble by broadening the scope of companies they consider.
“The current status quo is to get an internship at a large company,” Nguyen said.
Overall, the Create Club believes the event was well received by attendees.
“I think it’s a good first step,” Nguyen said. “It certainly proved that there’s interest from both startups and students, which I think is great and that’s proof that we should do this next year again, bigger if we can.”