Next week on Tuesday, the Summer of Tech Meet and Greet will be going down range. I’m looking forward to it! It’s going to be interesting to be attending this year’s meet and greet on the other side of the fence. Last year I attended as a prospective intern, it was a loud, chaotic and hectic environment. I feel like it suited me well!
This time I’m going to be looking at it from the Employer perspective. I’ve been handling Spark Venture’s Summer of Tech efforts this year as well as dealing with sponsorship stuff, running bootcamps and of course, running the Hackfest (that we held at the awesome Spark City Conference center)
The Meet and Greet is competitive. Students want to impress the best employers, and likewise, employers want to imprint themselves on the minds of students as “The place to be”.
Last year, I would have found it useful to know my way around the process, in the end I just drank beer and talked shit, and that was good enough - depending on who you ask :P
Firstly - Talk to everyone. Talk to every single employer in the room, regardless of whether or not you want a job with them. For one, it’s great practice. Communication sklls are the API that all of your other, more technical skills are exposed via. You can’t expect employers to spend money on you (onboarding is expensive!) without them being confident that you have the skills needed. If they can’t see or verify those skills, you may as well not have them. I beat students last year who were a lot more talented, hardworking and conscientious then me, because I could more readily communicate. It’s not fair, but it’s how the world works (there are always exceptions mind you).
Secondly - Don’t get too drunk. If you’re as fond of the gin as I, it might pay to watch your intake. It’s exciting, it’s fast paced, it’s a competition. It’s easy to lose track of the little things (by that I mean, it’s easy to lose track of everything that isn’t related to talking to employers). If you’re the type of person that can’t stretch a drink out over a few hours, consider banning yourself from it until the end of the night. Personally, I thought of it as a reward system, Every time I did a circuit of the employers present, after having had meaningful 5m+ long conversations with them, I would reward myself with one low alcohol content beer. Another way to think of it is like this, if you’re drinking enough to feel more then a good buzz, your lips are spending too much time on the end of a bottle, and not enough time on the end of a conversation.
TL:DR - Be cool, manage your intake, don’t be that guy. You know the one.
Finally, enjoy it. When dealing directly with people who could give you a job, it’s easy to feel the pressure. Try to focus on having great conversations, and enjoy the time with your fellow students, and employers who are passionate about the industry they are in. Without fail, every single employee in that room is there because they want to be, because they love what they do, love the industry they work in and love what Summer of Tech does. Enjoy yourself, the best conversations happen when you’re happy and comfortable, not when you’re forcing yourself to say words for the sake of somebody else. It’s about you. Own it, enjoy it. I can’t stress that point enough.