Late on the first Thursday in February, 450 students, plus community members, and recruiters from 42 companies packed Newcomb Hall for a chance at a different approach to job seeking. The Cville Start-Up Fair aims to connect the rapidly expanding, local start-up community with students eager for alternatives to brand-name consulting and finance firms. From working on male contraception development to sustainable food-sourcing, the fair cross-cut industries and interests.
For David Lapinski, Director of Employer Relations at the U.Va Career Center, the fair succeeds where others fail at creating a welcoming environment. “[The fair] mirrors the culture of the start-ups. It meets the students where they are,” Lapinski commented. Students seemed to agree with his assessment, commenting on the relaxed atmosphere and ease of conservation. While students circulated among booths, people chowed down on barbecue and dumplings to the tune of the last top hits.
Employers expressed equal enthusiasm at the change of pace from regular recruiting events. “Smaller companies like startups tend to get overlooked at large-scale career fairs” mentioned Natalie Craigmile, representing Clutch, a Washington D.C. based start-up, providing vendor research and reviews for business services. “Tonight provided a great opportunity to find students honestly interested in our work and lifestyle.”
The 2017 Start-Up Fair marked only the second time the event has occurred. For Lapinski, however, the long lines and packed rooms sent a clear message. “We’re going to need to look for another venue.”