Bring more than 70 bright-eyed college students interested in technology to three vibrant hubs of business innovation in Philadelphia and try for them to ignore the opportunity to stay here.
That was the call of the first ever Tech Startup Jobs Crawl organized by Campus Philly last week. The college student attract-and-retain nonprofit has held other job crawls before, including last year an Old City-focused creative one, which included N3rd Street stops.
This past Tuesday, on Election Day, three groups of college students took a University City walking tour, guided by Campus Philly staff, between celebrated startup accelerator DreamIt Ventures, newly relocated venture capital firm First Round Capital and the University City Science Center, where the event was capped off with a panel discussion on the opportunities for young technologists in Philadelphia.
Full Disclosure: Technically Philly was a media sponsor of the event, helped coordinate tour programming and this reporter moderated the closing panel.
At each tour stop, startup leaders and investors spoke about job opportunities in the region at non-traditional companies — startups of various stripes. A common offering was that while large, mid-sized and other traditional companies offer their own value, the college recruiting process is tilted that way, so too few talented young college students in Philadelphia pursue entrepreneurship on their own or look for employment opportunities within the energetic, if risky, startup ventures that increasingly dot the Center City corridor and beyond.
The panel discussion, held at the Science Center’s Quorum space, featured Ticketleap founder and CEO Chris Stanchak, who launched the company while at Wharton in 2003, Mobile Monday Mid-Atlantic organizer Chuck Sacco, who is an adjunct at Drexel’s LeBow School of Business and Tracey Welson-Rossman, a founding member of Chariot Solutions and TechGirlz.
The half-hour conversation featured admissions of failure — Stanchak took a job at GSI Commerce when Ticketleap ran out of money, but he revived it into its present state — and personal stories — Welson-Rossman urged young people to remember that you may spend more time with your cofounders than your family.
But centrally, it was an event aimed at adding the local, early-stage technology community to the list of options for the region’s college graduates. It’s not the right fit for everyone, said nearly every presenter of the evening, but when looking at opportunities for personal growth and real impact in careers of the future, Philadelphia has more opportunities than the average career fair might suggest.
Schools represented (the last three aren’t Campus Philly affiliate members):
- Penn State – Brandywine
- Pierce College
- Philadelphia University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Saint Joseph’s University
- Temple University
- Bryn Mawr College
- Swarthmore College
- Rutgers University â€“ Camden campus
- Villanova University
- Ursinus College
- Lehigh University
- Science Leadership Academy (high school)
- Vassar College