September 30, 2012

New York City Startups Recruit at Tech Career Fair

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Cornell University and the New York City Economic Development Corporation hosted a career fair Friday as  part of the city’s ongoing “Tech Talent Draft” initiative, which seeks to give students career advice and exposure to NYC’s tech startup community.

The event, which featured representatives from more than a dozen tech startup companies, is the result of collaboration between student organizers and the EDC, according to event planners.

Jesse McElwain ’13, one of the event’s organizers, said that after helping organize the University’s Startup Career Fair last semester, he thought it would be productive to have a career fair designed for startup companies being supported by the NYCEDC.

“The EDC wanted to come up, but there was no one entrepreneurial career service office to provide the required resources,” McElwain said. “Having students help out with the event is how it was able to succeed.”

Mark Savage, director of Career Services for the College of Engineering, said he contacted about 6,000 Cornell students via email to inform them about the event.

“We wanted to bring a representative group of students here and I think it’s going pretty well,” Savage said. “Students who come here are really looking for a niche in the startup community, and not necessarily a Fortune 500 company.”

Timothy Novikoff grad, who teaches a course in iPhone app development at the University, represented his own startup company, Vantageous, at the career fair. He said that he was particularly excited to see the enthusiasm around New York City and entrepreneurship in the tech community at Cornell.

“Things are going great,” Novikoff said. “I’ve got a bunch of resumes, and a lot of software engineers interested in joining Vantageous in NYC.”

More broadly, Novikoff praised the EDC’s involvement in the Tech Talent Draft, saying that “this event is a great example of the Bloomberg administration getting really serious about supporting the burgeoning NYC tech scene any way they can, with the Cornell Tech Campus … being the ultimate example of that.”

Other entrepreneurs present at the career fair, such as Deepak Chokkadi, vice president of media company Everyday HEALTH, said that NYC’s tech industry is booming due to “companies that were incubated in a new corridor” being encouraged to grow by the city.

The city’s EDC, which is primarily involved with smaller-scale startup companies, is a critical component in Cornell’s blossoming relationship with NYC’s tech community, according to McElwain.

“The EDC is supporting the fledgling, brand-new companies on the block, helping them come to Cornell as well,” he said. “These companies are turning to Cornell to find the best talent in NYC. It’s really important that students want to be here as well.”

Gavriel Wolf ’11, CEO of the startup IndieWalls — a company that matches NYC artists with venues to display their work — agreed that the EDC’s work is “phenomenal” and something that is “always [heard] about in the NYC tech community.”

The success of the career fair also showed a “vote of confidence in the new campus and in NYC’s tech sector,” said McElwain, who ran a media campaign for Cornell NYCTech last year.

“The major companies won’t go to Yale; they won’t go Harvard. They come to Cornell and recognize that there is talent here,” McElwain said.

Students who attended the fair said that they were able to successfully network with multiple startups.

Michelle Wilson grad, who is pursuing a Masters of Engineering Management, attended the fair because she is “interested in startups” and had already worked in the “thriving tech scene in NYC.”

“There are a lot of startups with a lot of perks,” Wilson said, adding that she spoke to “a lot of good people.”

Although Wilson said that the fair was “a little underwhelming” because of the relatively few companies present, McElwain did not think that the smaller size of the event, which took place in Sage Hall Atrium, was a drawback.

“After the Startup Career Fair last semester, we wanted to have a career fair specifically for companies in the NYCEDC,” he said. “We got some really good people for the whole weekend.”

Savage echoed McElwain’s sentiments, saying the fair was attended by “15 or so startups who really wanted to make a splash.”

McElwain said that the event was indicative of the growing relationship between the University and the booming NYC tech sector, one in which NYCTech plays an essential role.

“Cornell is now inextricably tied to the NYCEDC for the next 25 years, until the new tech campus is completed,” McElwain said. “There’s nothing we can do to be more connected to the tech community in New York, and we need to take advantage of that.”

Original Author: Jacob Glick