Utah Startup Marketplace Turns Ten

PROVO, Utah – Mar 20, 2019 – While many BYU Marriott School of Business students aspire to accept a secure corporate job after graduation, others crave the experience of getting their hands dirty and building a business from the ground up. For ten years now, the Utah Startup Marketplace career fair has been placing those students with the companies that seek their talent. 

The startup marketplace is different from other career fairs because of the opportunities it provides students and the criteria it places on participating businesses. Each visiting company is Utah based, is looking to fill at least one position, and pays to attend. These criteria help to ensure that the businesses are serious about hiring BYU Marriott students. The fair not only aims to stimulate the Utah economy but also to place students in jobs and internships where they have opportunities to grow with their companies. 

While the fair is called the Utah Startup Marketplace, Jeff Brown, the associate director of operations for BYU Marriott’s Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, says there is no clear definition of what a startup is. “Sometimes companies have been around for fifteen years, and they are still startups,” he says. “Qualtrics was running in a basement for ten years until it took off.” Brown says they know a startup when they see it, and there is a specific application process for companies to be able to attend.

Brown, who has overseen the event for years, says students are often talking with the founder of a business, not necessarily a recruiter who they will never see again. “You’re meeting people that are decision-makers in the company,” he says. “The networking at this fair is incredible.” 

Joining a startup isn’t for everyone, but the risk has potential to pay off. “There are students who enjoy fast-moving, ground-floor involvement with a company,” Brown says. “This fair is for them.” 

While any job has pros and cons, Brown explains that part of the trade-off in working for a startup could be unpredictable job stability or limited benefits. “Younger startups have the possibility of burning out,” Brown says. “But you may also find a great company and end up with stock options down the road.” 

While sometimes a gamble, Brown feels joining a startup provides employees an unparalleled opportunity for growth. “When you work for a startup, it’s a growing company,” he says. “It’s dynamic. You will wear multiple hats, and you will be learning different skills. There may be limited job security, but there is much more room for you to grow.”   

The fair, which was held at the end of February, has successfully placed students in internships and jobs at a variety of companies for ten years. Meeshell Jewell, the marketing and public relations manager for the Rollins Center, says BYU students are desirable because they are a competitive breed. “Their skill sets are elevated, and when businesses hire our students, they get the ‘cream of the crop,’” she says. 

Tyler Morgan, a BYU Marriott marketing alum, was hired at Jive, a business communications company, as a result of attending the fair. Seeing the skills Morgan offered, Jive hired him first and created an internship for him later. Morgan says that experience helped him discover his goals and launched his career. "It's interesting how the people you meet and the friendships you make at BYU can help you succeed," Morgan says.

Members of a startup brainstorm ideas.
Members of a startup brainstorm ideas. Photo courtesy of Rawpixel

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Katie Harris