On fire to hire

Alexander Kavourias, CIS’17, strode into the Curry Student Center Ballroom on Monday evening with an air of excitement, intent on finding a co-op job at a startup company. He immediately struck up a conversation with Bobby Hazel, a software developer for Jebbit, the Boston-based ad-tech firm, and then intended to get the low down on Lookout, the San Francisco-based mobile security company.

“I’m open to anything, and I wouldn’t mind leaving Boston,” said Kavourias, a second-year computer science major. “I’ve never immersed myself in the startup world, and I want to see if I would like it,” he added. “That’s the beauty of co-op.”

Kavourias was not alone in his pursuit of the perfect professional match. In fact, he was but one of some 500 Northeastern students and young alumni who arrived at the Ballroom ready to network with representatives of more than 40 startups seeking to hire co-op students, interns, and full-time employees. The two-hour event, dubbed the “On Fire To Hire Startup Expo,” was sponsored by Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education.

The startups on display tended to cater to tech-savvy job seekers with expertise in marketing, engineering, and computer science. There was LevelUp, the mobile payment platform, and Mobiquity, the mobile technology services firm. There was Yesware, the email tool for salespeople, and Swipely, the payment marketing service.

A few startups aimed to pique the interest of the eco-friendly. The self-proclaimed environmental pragmatists behind Refresh, for example, have created vending kiosks that mix and bottle beverages at the point of sale, cutting bottled water’s carbon footprint by 80 percent.

Sean Grundy, the startup’s co-founder and CEO, attended the expo in search of immediate help to expand his four-person business into more schools, offices, and gyms in Massachusetts. He and his colleague Mike Wing, E’13, planned to accept resumes from students interested in design engineering and business development co-ops.

“We’re looking for younger versions of him,” said Grundy, in reference to Wing, who completed three co-ops at Northeastern. “Getting industry experience on co-op gave me a lot of confidence,” noted Wing, whose experiential learning opportunities at Philips and other tech firms helped prepare the young alumnus for his first full-time job at Refresh.

Startup representatives echoed Wing’s sentiments, praising Northeastern’s co-op program for preparing students for the working world. “We’ve heard that Northeastern students are rockstar developers,” said Hazel, who attended the expo in search of two software developers. “They’re knowledgeable and they know the core fundamentals.”

Alexandra Allocca, DMSB’16, is a prime example of the quintessential co-op student. Allocca honed her marketing and merchandising skills on co-ops with two large corporations—Staples and Wayfair—and then showed up to the expo looking to leave her comfort zone. “I want to work in a smaller company,” said the fourth-year business student and social media officer for IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator. “I’m hoping to find a more hands-on opportunity.”