Editor’s Note: BostInno has officially launched its careers platform. To introduce the platform we are running a week long series about hiring in Boston authored by some of Boston’s finest. Hiring in the Hub will shine a light on what it’s like to actually grow your career here in Boston.
SCVNGR benefits from an amazing influx of talent coming right out of college. These students are highly motivated, bring fresh energy to the organization and can be easily trained into the company’s culture. Everyone may agree that people are a company’s greatest asset, but limited resources makes start-up recruiting a challenge. Sourcing from universities provides an additional layer of complexity because students have limited work experience to reference. Here are a couple helpful things we’ve learned about finding the right talent coming out of school and convincing them to join our team.
1. Fish in the Ocean
Spend most of your time marketing to students who have never thought to work at a startup. Yes there are many amazing university programs and organizations concentrated on entrepreneurship. Those students will find you. The amount of awesome potential that has never considered working at a startup is much greater than the number of folks majoring in entrepreneurship. It’s also important to build a team that is not just excited about starting a company, but wants to help it grow and scale.
Meeting many talented students our team has found one thing in common, these individuals are excited to make a difference. They want to leverage their considerable energy and intellect to change the world. They are willing to put in ‘investment banking’ hours and want to make a difference without necessarily going off to join the Peace Corps. You don’t need to be a fun, cool or hip company to attract talented students (although it helps), but offer a genuine opportunity for making an impact. As a startup every employee is critical to the needs of the organization. You naturally offer what these students crave most, so go out and teach the political science majors of the world that law school isn’t the only option post graduation.
2. Attend Events
That said, there is a growing and passionate group of students in the city who are deeply interested in startups. One of the most effective ways to meet them is during events. Startup workshops and weekend hackathons look for members of the community to serve as speakers, mentors or judges. Interactive events are especially useful! Group discussions or projects will provide insight for how students think and execute ideas. We met our head of support at BostInno’s Startup & ShutUp weekend a couple years back and recently brought on some awesome talent from this year’s Startup Scrambler. Check out the BostInno and Greenhorn Connect calendars for events around the Hub.
3. Network with Professors
Connecting with professors is perhaps one of the greatest things our team has done to aid in recruiting. Across Boston there are a number of professors and faculty that are deeply passionate about startups, tech and their students. They pour their energy into their students and these students heed their advice! John Gallaugher’s TechTrek Program at Boston College sponsors trips to tech companies in Boston, New York and San Francisco. Ming Chow’s Game Development course at Tufts has students cracking the App Store’s top 50 list. Dean Elmore is one of the most beloved BU faculty, and the head of the Student Activities Office, which employs some of the most enthusiastic and productive students on campus. These are but a few of the faculty across the city that we cannot thank enough for referring amazing talent.
4. Internships & Coops
The following is not for everyone, but has worked well for our team. One of the primary concerns for recruiting university talent is that it’s an unproven resource. We have students coming out of school start with a three-month internship before bringing them on full time. It’s a great evaluation period for you (and the candidate) to determine if it’s the right fit. Think of it as an extended interview. We’ve had a number of students turn down full time offers to come and intern with our company. Anyone who is crazy enough to do that in today’s world of student debt certainly shares your passion and vision.
Coop programs have been another tremendous resource for our company. A Northeastern coop will contract for six months, saving valuable time on training costs compared to the traditional three-month internship. These coops are some of the best prepared, ready to go employees we’ve had the pleasure to engage. I don’t know what the advisors are doing at NEU to prepare students, but it works!
This is nothing new to recruiting, but referrals continue to be one of the best ways we source talent. Extraordinary people know other talented people. And don’t forget that referrals can come from many different sources. Your employees, university faculty, investors and even recently hired employees can introduce awesome talent. During our last round of hires, one of our candidates was so excited about the company he introduced us to two of his classmates. All three were hired onto the team and continue to crush their sales goals.
College recruiting is not for every company and presents unique challenges in sourcing the right talent. Networking with professors and connecting with students at events can help you quickly identify talented individuals. We’ve found that the energy and innovation brought by collegiate recruits is well worth the effort in building our company.
If you would like to discuss college-recruiting efforts with me, feel free to connect at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nick Herbold is lead recruiter at SCVNGR.