Many interested in innovation, creation and changing the world through technology, spent their Tuesday afternoon at the Start-Up Nation Technology Fair in the Rome Ballroom.
The event was co-sponsored by UConn Hillel, UConn Business Administration Society and Hasbara Fellowships, which is an organization that trains non-Israeli students to be effective pro-Israel activists on college campuses. The fair featured companies of a wide range of interests from Zeekit, an online shopping app that allows you to virtually try on clothing, to SportsGuru, an app that allows students to become live sports broadcasters.
The event at UConn was one of multiple stops on Start-Up Nation’s national college campus tour to not only get students connected with CEOs of companies across the country and outside of the country, particularly Israel, but to also help students to get an internship, be truly exposed to technology and use it to change the world. Other campuses visited included Princeton, NYU and UPenn.
Eighth-semester political science and communication major, and student event coordinator, Yael HolzmanCastellands saw Start-Up Nation as an opportunity to see what professional opportunities there were outside the local area, as well as out of the country, which was one motivating interest for her heavy involvement in planning the event.
“The career fairs are great, but … a lot of [the recruiting companies] are based in Connecticut, and I’m not even from Connecticut, so having one that’s outside of Connecticut, because these [companies] are based in New York, D.C. and Israel, those are great opportunities,” Holzman Castellands said.
While the event was relatively small, both with companies and students in attendance, it was seen as a positive feature by those present.
“The event is small scale, which comes with its benefits,” said Trevor DeMilt, a fourth-semester finance major and economics minor. “[The representatives] care more because it’s their company, and not a recruiter speaking for the C.E.O. They can speak more from the heart.”
Second-semester Hima Patel, a mechanical engineering and computer science double major has visited other internship and career fairs in the past and recalled most including “lines of students waiting for one employer, [aiming] to make themselves employable, the employers [of Start-Up Nation companies] put technological interest at the center of attention, and not what’s on your resume.”
“It allows companies to interact with students, find users for [our] products or internships, and promote innovation and technology coming out of Israel,” said Israeli native Ken Zamkow, founder and CEO of SportsGuru.
As start-up companies, the goal is “to understand what students want, and then create a position around [their interest],” says Samantha Kufeld, Operations Manager of Zeekit.
Although this was the first year for this particular fair, and there is no saying whether Start-Up Nation will return with more companies in the future, Jerry Lieberman, a UConn Business School alum, as well as trustee and chairman for the finance committee at UConn, “believes in investing in education, believes in the university, and building bridges between Israel and America, and that is what [this program] does ... [you] see a side of Israel students not read in the newspaper.”
Lucille Littlefield is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.