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Reverse Pitch: Bringing Tech Careers to the Students
At any given point, more than 200 software, computer science and tech jobs are open in Lincoln. If the innovation/entrepreneurial ecosystem is to grow, the city needs to attract talent - a challenge facing cities all across the country. So how do we recruit differently? We turn the traditional job fair on its head.
On the night of October 24, 2017, more than 260 computer science and engineering students crowded into the Nebraska Innovation Campus conference center to learn about job opportunities and internships with highly successful Lincoln companies. The event, coined the “Reverse Pitch,” is the second in this its first year, and it’s already picking up steam.
The format is simple: each local company gets roughly five minutes to explain why working for them, be it an internship or a full-time position, is awesome. Some companies showed videos, others had prepared pitch decks, but all of them -- Ameritas, Assurity, Don’t Panic Labs, Firespring, Hudl, Nelnet, PenLink, Sandhills Publishing, Spreetail, and TalentPlus -- had energetic presenters who were eager to hire some of Nebraska’s most promising young minds.
Rich Claussen, who organized the event on behalf of the Prosper Lincoln community agenda, said the idea behind a reverse pitch is to flip the traditional job fair. At most job fairs, hundreds, sometimes thousands of students try to earn the attention of companies. At reverse pitch events, companies outline the incredible opportunities and benefits of working for them. It’s a recruiting twist, and based on the most recent event, it appears to be working.
“We wanted to bring the companies to you,” Claussen said on the night of the event, in front of 500+ yearning eyes. “We want to show you what’s out there, and we want to show you why Lincoln is a great place to start a career.”
The room was filled with energy. The presenters were excited and animated, and the students were leaning forward in their seats, whispering to the person next to them if they heard something they liked. Some students wrote manically in notebooks, others pegged away at their keyboards, but most sat still, focused intently on the podium.
After the companies delivered their pitches, students were encouraged to chat with presenters over pizza and soda at booths just outside the auditorium. Students -- pizza in hand -- split off in different directions toward the booths that most interested them. They had just heard what each company does and how they do it - so now they could engage in conversation about company culture, job openings, and even exchange contact information.
Mike Wells, Vice President of Information Technology at Ameritas, was honored to be a part of the event.
“It’s our first time here, and we’re very excited. It’s so great for the students, and it’s even better for this city. Events like these prove that you can leave your legacy right here in Lincoln,” he said.
During the month of November, students will have the opportunity to meet with companies more intimately at four “State of the Practice” events around Lincoln. Hosted at the companies’ locations, these events give students the opportunity to dive deeper into day-to-day operations, meet more staff members, and enjoy some free food along the way.
Thursday, November 2 - 7-9pm @ Firespring, with Nelnet
Tuesday, November 7 - 4-6pm @ Don't Panic Labs (in the Barnyard) with Hudl
Thursday, November 16 - 7-9pm @ Assurity with Pen-Link and Sandhills
Tuesday, November 28 - 5-7pm @ Spreetail with Ameritas and Talent+