I went back to McCombs (University of Texas) tonight for the sixth annual "Entrepreneurial Connections" event.  The event connects local Austin entrepreneurs to McCombs MBA students eager to work in a startup environment.  It holds a special place in my heart because I created the first annual event in 2004 because I didn't think there were enough opportunities for entrepreneurs and students to meet.

Anyway, it was a great event — there were about 20 companies and perhaps up to 100 students in attendance.  I was originally a little irritated by the fact that under my company name/description was the apocalyptic:  Looking for: Interns (unpaid) … but then I realized that even though our situation continues to improve, I still just want to talk to people who are interested in the type of work that we do.  And I want to talk with people who aren't afraid to read something like that… people who understand that early stage companies have ups and downs and perhaps they're worth speaking with anyway.

I did talk with 15-18 people at the event.  Some rapid fire observations/suggestions for MBAs hitting career fairs:

  • 2 out of 12 resumes were printed on nice resume paper.  I'm sure some of the 10 who printed on standard copy paper had extenuating circumstances that required copy paper.  But the 2 who took the time and effort to print on real resume paper stood out.  My impression is that the rest didn't take the event seriously.  Or perhaps they don't have great attention to detail.  I don't know, but I got 2 great professional resumes tonight.
  • I saw a lot of people standing in line for several companies.  That's a lot of competition.  Sure those companies do great work, but as an entrepreneur I've always been drawn to places where people *aren't* necessarily hanging out.
  • I don't remember what anyone was wearing, but I do remember the 3 people who approached me confidently and with a smile.
  • Brush your teeth.  Or at least carry mints.
  • I also remember the one guy who challenged me on my value prop.  I appreciate someone who is willing to question what he/she is hearing.

All told, it was a few hours well-spent.  It was a great experience that I hope to do again next year.