On April 10, 2015, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School hosted Startup Fest, an annual Carey tradition founded on the belief that the right employees are the greatest assets to any company. This year we opened the forum to the entire Johns Hopkins network with a goal of adding to the grassroot movement that positions Hopkins and Carey at the heart of the local business ecosystem. Our core team, which included Preston Broderick, Ilsa Snyder, Brent Schneider, Hassan Alsebail and myself, broke down walls that separate the different Hopkins schools and took a small step in fulfilling President Daniels’ vision for ONE University.
The event came together with help from Carey Career Development Staff, as well as partnerships with many Johns Hopkins organizations including Johns Hopkins Tech Ventures, Innovation Factory, Carey Entrepreneurship Club, Tech Entrepreneurship Club (Whiting), and the Graduate Representative Organization (Krieger, Whiting).
♦ 210 students registered for the event, more than 4 times as many as last year
♦ We doubled the amount of employers—31 companies registered
(all of which had open positions for Hopkins students)
♦ 52% of students were from Carey, 9% from Bloomberg, 21% from Whiting, 7% from Medicine, and 10% from Krieger
♦ 6 companies have Hopkins affiliations, 3 from DreamIT, 3 from Fast Forward, and 5 from ETC Baltimore
♦ 4 of the companies were represented by Carey Alumni
In addition to the job showcase, we invited a distinguished panel to talk about the challenges and advantages of working for a rapidly growing company.
Startup Fest Panel
Casey Le June
Co-Founder and COO of Elevar
Senior Data Scientist at RedOwl Analytics
Recruiting Manager at 2U
In case you missed the panel, here are a few of the panelists’ insights.
Casey, what has been the biggest difference between working at Booz & Company and working at Elevar?
Ownership. Having true ownership over creating, sustaining and growing a company is one of the most exhilarating and emotionally exhausting career experiences. Once you have ownership, purpose becomes the main motivator pushing you to work the long hours and not the promotion, or the bonus, or any other extrinsic thing.
Ann, what has been the biggest challenge in transitioning from academia to a startup?
I’d been a computer scientist in graduate school, but I had never worked on enterprise-level software. Integrating new work into a major software product means that we can’t iterate new ideas as quickly as I was used to; the work is more deliberate and reasoned. Contrary to what I expected, I need to be more thoughtful than I’d been in an academic setting.
Mike, What has been your biggest challenge in transitioning into a early stage startup?
I had several challenges. First, in academia the goal is not to make mistakes, whereas in an early stage startup the goal is to make mistakes early and learn from those mistakes. In fact, if you are not making mistakes then something is wrong. Second, in academia the goal is to position yourself as the smartest person in the room. In early stage startup you always want to be the least capable person in the room, and if you are not, then you are not assembling your team correctly. Finally, it took me time to adjust to the idea that I was associated with an unknown brand, as opposed to in academia where I was associated with well-known academic brands, and that fact required different strategies and different ways of engaging my life and work emotionally.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Casey: Creating something from nothing…taking an idea, executing against it, and seeing it become a reality. Sometimes it’s a slow process, but the outcomes are hugely rewarding to witness.
Ann: I work with the best people who are incredibly passionate about what we’re building and selling. Every single person at my company is smart, hardworking, nice, fun, and helpful; we have a great company culture.
Mike: I love being able to create an organization with a culture that people find exciting and fulfilling. Being able to take ideas about how people like to work, live, and challenge the world around them, and then putting the structures in place to enable that to happen at scale, is thrilling and rewarding beyond anything I ever could have imagined.
What advice would you give someone who is about to join a startup for the first time?
Casey: Check the “employee” mentality at the door. Startups (especially early stage startups) aren’t looking for employees; they are looking for team members that can identify new opportunities and bring skills to the table that align with the startup’s objectives. Become your own entrepreneur within the startup and not just another employee.
Ann: Be ready to be flexible. Everyone at an early stage company wears a lot of hats, and it’s critical to be up for doing and learning lots of different things.
Mike: Ask questions, and ask questions about the company beyond what your specific role might be. Understand the company, the strategy, the team, and the core values and soul of an organization. Understand how it is financed, what bets the company is placing, and why it is placing those bets. Your job will be far beyond, and at times unrelated to, your job description, and so you want to understand how to contribute to the bigger picture and what that might mean both for your daily life in the job and also for what you will be dedicating your time to building.
Nicole: Be entrepreneurial. Come to work with the right attitude, asking “what can I do to help us grow?” Keep in mind that having an entrepreneurial spirit takes a lot of energy and a lot of focus. Over time people will ask you to go beyond your job description: embrace it.