More than 750 students and alumni convened in the Curry Student Center on Tuesday evening for the fourth biannual On Fire To Hire Startup Expo. The event, which featured nearly five dozen startups, was sponsored by Northeastern’s Center for Entrepreneurship Education in partnership with the Department of Career Development, the College of Computer and Information Science, the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, and the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education.
The startups on display tended to cater to tech-savvy job seekers with expertise in marketing, engineering, and computer science. There was Black Duck, the open-source software firm, and CloudLock, the cloud security company. There was Mobiquity, the mobile engagement provider, and Censio, the smartphone-only insurance platform.
We asked students and employers to describe the appeal of startup life, with a particular focus on the unique challenges and opportunities faced by working for a new business venture.
Jose Cueva, co-founder of Buildsourced, an online marketplace to buy and sell construction equipment: “Startups have a fast-paced dynamic, which can be challenging for some and a blessing for others. There is a level of responsibility—and accountability—that comes with working for a startup. You have to be on top of things; you have to be efficient.”
Paul Gibson, sales director of ISlide, a footwear startup that manufactures customized sandals: “Working for a startup means working long hours. Sometimes it’s hard to see the end of the road, but it’s rewarding when you get there. You have to be very self-motivated and make sure you do your job, because your performance will impact how the company will grow.”
Alissa Murgia, director of organizational development for Invicro, an imaging services and software firm: “Startups are fast-paced environments; things change more quickly than they do in more established companies, and you have to be comfortable with ambiguity. On the other hand, you’ll have the opportunity to take the initiative and be creative, to present your ideas and talent to people in the C-suite.”
Matthew Au, DMSB’17, who is currently on co-op as a research analyst for LearnLaunch, a micro-investment fund and start up program that has invested in and developed more than two dozen education technology companies: “I love the startup culture. I have more responsibilities than I would in the corporate world; I get to work with upper management; and I’ve had the opportunity to meet with angel investors. It’s challenging, but it’s also fun and very rewarding.”
Jack Burns, CIS’17, who is currently on co-op as a developer at HourlyNerd, the online freelancer marketplace: “At a startup, you can make a mark for yourself and learn a lot along the way. The stakes are high, but the teams are small, allowing you to get into the nitty-gritty aspects of your work. A lot will be asked of you—and your colleagues will not be there to hold your hand; sometimes, you’ll be working long nights, but you’ll take ownership of your work and get it done.”
Kim Riemensperger, SSH/DMSB’17, an international student from Germany who was fresh off a short networking session with Mobiquity: “I want to work for a startup and help to build a company. I think I’ll have greater responsibilities and learn more than I would in the corporate world. I’ll have the opportunity to be more creative and innovative. I’ll be able to work across teams and take on multiple roles.”