Utah Startup Marketplace brings start-up companies to campus

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As students look for opportunities to showcase their skills at career fairs happening around campus, the Utah Startup Marketplace offers something different from the usual career fair. 

Sponsored by the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, the Utah Startup Marketplace allows students to network and connect with some of Utah’s newest start-up companies. The fair starts Monday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m. at the Garden Court of the Wilkinson Center.

Outside of Silicon Valley, Utah County is well-known for having one of the highest concentrated areas of start-up companies.

Jeff Brown, assistant director for the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology, said due to the high number of start-up companies around the area, connecting students with local start-up companies is the goal of the fair.

The fair differs from other career fairs; it is targeted towards students who have an entrepreneurial spirit, or would like to learn more on how start-up companies can help their career goals.

“We know these local start-up companies need great, talented students but they seem to be squeezed out of the larger frame,” Brown said. “We thought we could just cater to start-up companies and specifically Utah based (companies) because we wanted to help Utah entrepreneurial businesses.” 

While a unique opportunity, working at a start-up company can also be as risky as it is rewarding. Brown acknowledges the risk involved in working for a start-up, but mentioned the benefits of working in a business one has to build from the ground up.

“It can be a little risky, but the wonderful thing is that you are on the front lines,” Brown said. “You are making decisions that could change the course of the company, whereas if you go work for some Fortune 500 company most of the time you’re just a face in the sea of faces they hire every year.”

Brown said working for a start-up company gives a person a chance to be noticed and work in a dynamic environment.

Students can gain a lot of experience and pick up various skills while working for a start-up company.

Josh Nicholls, student coordinator of events for the Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, described the benefits of working for a start-up company.

“When I worked with start-ups… there were somethings that I liked and something that I didn’t like so much,” Nicholls said. “It helps you narrow down options. Even if you’re a junior or a sophomore, maybe working at a start-up can help you (find your) focus.”

For those students who don’t know what to expect at a the fair, Brown described the atmosphere of the fair as not being so different from other regular job/career fairs. Although there are some things that set it apart.

“It’s smaller in nature; we probably have about 20 companies there and we encourage the companies to show their flair, show their culture to the students,” Brown said.

Joe Robledo, a sociology major from Texas, is interested in seeing what the start-up companies at the fair have to offer in regards to jobs and internships.

“If you see something that has a lot of potential then it’s good to get in early,” Robledo said. “What’s attractive about start-ups is the potential they have and some people don’t pick up on that.”

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