Who should go to Startup Weekend?

It's like magic

Short answer: Anyone and everyone!

Whether you are interested in pitching an idea of your own or collaborating with others, networking with new connections or team-building with your friends and colleagues, honing in on skills you already have or learning new ones… Startup Weekend has got you covered.

Jessica Gardner, Recruiting and Onboarding Specialist at MidwayUSA (and #SWCOMO planning committee member!)  joins us this week to help uncover what YOU could gain from attending Startup Weekend.


What do you do?

My official job title is Recruiting and Onboarding Specialist, but my role encompasses performance management and employee engagement as well. My role is really unique in that, while recruiting is my main job function, I get to be a part of employee’s entire life cycle at the company, from their initial offer of employment, to their very first day, to their 10 year company anniversary. Seeing employees grow and mature, that’s the best part of my job.


As a recruiter, what characteristics are you looking for in potential employees?

There are obvious characteristics that all employers look for: employment history, minimum skills for a position, are they going to show up every day and be on time.  But finding a candidate who is a culture fit, above all else, is the most important. Creating a culture that encourages continuous learning, agility, and innovation, then finding candidates who fit that culture, that’s the best candidate. I think that the cool thing about Columbia is that we have so many organizations who have really unique company cultures, though, and I like to think that, as a community, we kind of started it nationwide. We are so fortunate to have some of the best places to work in the United States, just ask Forbes!


If someone is currently on a job hunt, what do you think they can gain from attending and participating in Startup Weekend?

Networking – that’s huge. Mentors from organizations throughout Columbia will be there, judges who are well known for their careers in entrepreneurship.  Not to mention – adding a line about a weekend you spent starting and presenting a business on your resume. Contributing to a team with people from other companies who can refer you. Honing in on skills you already have, learning new skills. I think there are a lot of soft skills, though, too. Communicating, for one. Validating your ideas; that’s often just cold-calling people to see if they think your idea is useful. Time management, team building, building confidence. Sometimes, dealing with rejection, all are so important and relevant in the workforce.


What if someone isn’t searching for a job – why should they attend?

The networking opportunities alone are priceless. Working with entrepreneurial leaders throughout Columbia, we’re talking CEOs and Presidents of awesome organizations, is not something that everyone gets an opportunity to do, but they can at Startup Weekend. Even networking with other people in your profession to learn new skills, it’s invaluable. This is the ultimate team building, agility testing, thinking out of the box event. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and I recommend working a half day on Monday, but it’s worth it. It’s like magic.  


You heard it here first … Startup Weekend is MAGIC! Experience it for yourself.