WPI is working to provide strong resources to help its students find employment after graduation—whether in large corporations or smaller, startup firms.
But more engagement with fast-growth and startup companies was needed, and the university is reaching out to these businesses in order to better connect its graduates with these potential career paths.
Last year, President Leshin and the Career Development Center (CDC) delved deeper into how WPI is serving students looking to join startup companies in fast-growth fields in a variety of industries. Leshin and other WPI officials sat down with representatives of 15 startup companies to learn their needs and challenges to better address how WPI students can fill those roles. That meeting offered insight on where gaps may exist between WPI and startup companies.
Bailey Rand, CDC assistant director of employer relations, says that exploring the needs of fast-growth companies is the base of an ever-evolving plan of improvement in bridging this gap.
“Last year we held a virtual career fair for startup organizations. Over the past year we’ve taken feedback and initiated new events and resources,” says Rand.
And the events don’t just work to create inroads for students to work at fast-growth companies, but also guide them through exploring the category in general, she points out.
WPI partners with THINKB1G—a Boston consulting company that links startups with university students—and hosted one of its workshops on campus last fall, “Your Roadmap to Landing a Role at a Startup.”
An event called Startup Showcase took place last week at WPI’s Seaport facility with THINKB1G. Representatives from Buildium, Delsys, Cogo Labs, Insurify, Everquote, RxAdvance, Tulip Interfaces, and Platelet BioGenesis gave overviews of their companies and what they look for in employees and participated in speed dating–style interviews and open networking.
WPI also launched an Employer Advisory Council last fall to nurture communication and help guide CDC decisions. THINKB1G owner Michael Gaiss is on this council, says Rand, offering valuable insight into the Boston-area startup scene. “He’s the eyes and ears; he talks with them all day, every day.”
On April 5 the CDC will host a virtual career fair on the recruiting chat platform Brazen for students interested in startups. Rand says it's a great way for students and startups to connect. Virtual booths will have information about each company. Students can log in and go into a virtual waiting room, have a one-on-one conversation for 10 minutes, and take the conversation offline if desired.
The last time the CDC hosted such an event, 13 companies took part; Rand expects more this time. Students aren't limited to exploring companies only in Massachusetts, she adds. The CDC links to companies big and small, new and established, will continue to be strengthened.
WPI carefully gathers and analyzes outcomes of all of its career-development activities, with success rates of students, where employed, their majors and average salaries, Rand explains, “just to make sure we are facilitating these connections, giving startups and fast-growth companies the same access to talent.”
-By Susan Shalhoub