TechJam comes but once a year, and it started on Friday and ended today, so I won’t try to “review” it. Here are some impressions that stuck:
Average age. I’d expected most of my fellow TechJam hopefuls to be about 23; the real age was much older. The picture might have been different during Friday’s special student session, but most exhibitors I talked to saw college students as a significant but not overwhelming section of their audience. Inside the Middlebury bubble, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of people in the world who aren’t college students. TechJam provided a gentle introduction to the real world: this is the workforce, and we are adults competing with adults now. The numerous job-seekers who brought along their children were pointed reminders of the different kind of competitive atmosphere we enter after we graduate from college.
Midd alumni. Getting less metaphorical, TechJam was surprisingly valuable for the density of Middlebury contacts involved. My experience with this was anecdotal, but still: at a number of booths, as well as at the registration desk for the ‘Jam, the mention of Middlbury College got responses like “we have a few employees/editors/etc. who are alums” or even “I went there!” So even though the event is in Burlington and features companies that don’t necessarily work in or near Midd, you won’t be among strangers.
Smile? The debate over whether the workplace should be “fun” was alive and well at TechJam. A major sponsor of the event, Dealer.com, featured a booth sprinkled with free candy and played a video of their team lip-syncing “I Gotta Feeling”. Other companies promoted themselves in more restrained ways. Make ‘em laugh or down with fun?
Swag. OK, it’s superficial, but a lot of free stuff was being given away. I got candy, an essential VPR bumper sticker, a pen or two, and entries into raffles for an iPod and iPad.
What it is. A great event if you’re interested in anything technology-oriented. Best-fit majors might be Computer Science, Math, any of the hard sciences, Econ, Geography — with good communication skills. Foreign languages don’t help much here.
That’s the story. Here are the pictures: