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News at Mason

A good start for a first-ever startup job fair

March 8, 2018   /   by Buzz McClain

Unlike last month’s two-day Spring Career Fair with dozens of exhibitors taking over the Dewberry Hall floor, Monday’s Startup Job Fair at the MIX was, like the companies that attended, leaner by design.

The idea of the event, said Sean Mallon, Mason’s associate vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation, is to expose Mason students who want to build their own startup companies to founders and CEOs who already have. An internship or a short employment opportunity would give the would-be entrepreneur vital experience toward a successful launch.

Viet Nguyen, a computational data science senior, came to the job fair with his resume in hand. Eventually he would like to do something in the mental health data field, but he knows he has much to learn.

“I’m interested in working for a startup because I like the risk aspect of it,” said Nguyen, who was looking for an internship. “I like the company culture of a startup.”

About 150 students visited with the seven exhibitors, Mallon said, 30 more than had preregistered. He added that the companies said they would be happy to come back for a second startup job fair.

The companies on hand ranged from an on-demand catering service called HUNGRY to a government technology contractor called MetroStar Systems (founded by Ali Reza Manouchehri, BA Philosophy ’99) to mobile cybersecurity provider Kryptowire Enterprise, founded by Mason professor Angelos Stavrou.

“In many ways the size of this fair is better [than large ones] for the students,” Stavrou said. “The space is open, and in many cases, people who come to job fairs are not prepared with a lot of material” to hand out, he said.

As for the companies on display, a small, specialized job fair works in their favor too, he said.

“There is nothing wrong with Lockheed Martin, but when your booth is next to theirs, it’s a brand name you cannot compete with,” he said. “I find the mixture of companies here is better for the students, and they don’t already have established [employment] pipelines.”

Even if Kryptowire Enterprise doesn’t land a viable applicant, Stavrou said, “for us, the exposure is important because it puts the company name in front of a lot of people. That fact that we are here, and we give out our cards is important for us.”