On Thursday, October 3rd, I attended the first annual Boston TechJam at District Hall. The event was equal parts concert, pitch competition and networking. Several of Boston’s most well known technology companies including TripAdvisor, Monster.com, Aereo and Vertex set up interactive booths featuring Wii games, skeeball, raffles and product demos.
The event had a party atmosphere with food catered by local Mexican hot spot Papagayo, and plenty of drinks to go around. Music from local bands was blaring in the background.
Based on the fact that the event sold out days in advance and received huge press, I expect Boston TechJam will be an annual event for many years to come. Between the mix of employers, entrepreneurs, and job seekers, the event caters to everyone.
Here’s what to expect and appreciate from each point of view:
Events like this are great branding and recruiting tactics for companies. As Boston tries to retain talent from local universities, technology employers should embrace this opportunity to be part of the community and show off their work culture.
Prior to the event, there was an application process for entrepreneurs who wanted to pitch at the event. Twelve companies were chosen to pitch and have a one-on-one coaching session with an industry expert. This experience is a great venue to practice your pitching skills in addition to get your company’s name out in front of the best and brightest tech leaders in Boston. While there’s no prize money, the recognition and feedback is priceless says one MassChallenge entrepreneur who pitched at the event.
This type of event is the next generation of career fairs. Long gone are the days of business suits, paper resumes and other formalities. Recruiters were hanging out in beanbags, drinking sangria and even playing guitar on the BTJ stage. Events like this are a great opportunity to network and meet employers who truly represent their vivacious work culture.
As a job seeker myself, I’ve come up with a “3 R” strategy to navigate this new wave of networking events:
Just because it’s a casual work environment doesn’t mean you should be unprepared when talking to employers. Take notes of which companies you’re most interested in and approach them first.
Even if you’re looking for a position, employers are there to enjoy themselves too and want to evaluate if you’d be a good cultural fit for their company. Don’t hesitate to talk about non-work related interests as well and get to know people on a more personal level. You want them to remember you for more than just the guy/girl who wanted a job.
You meet so many people at these events it’s hard to keep everyone straight. When you get home, write as many notes about the people you met as possible then follow up within no less than 48 hrs.
Despite this being an annual event, Boston’s growing tech scene will be jamming all throughout the year. Stay tuned for the next great event!
And join us at Startup Product Talks Boston!
About Jami Schwartz
I am a professional marketer with over 5 years of experience working for technology and start up companies around the Boston area. I hold a B.S. in Finance from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Boston University. I’m currently consulting for two startups while looking for my next opportunity. You can find me @JamiSchwartz or check out my lifestyle blog Stylishly-Sweet.com.