The third annual College Night, co-hosted by Duke I&E and the American Underground, was held in early October. The event allows Triangle-area college students to connect with startups who are looking for interns in a low-pressure environment that isn’t like a traditional job fair.
More than 300 students attended this year’s event, hearing pitches from 45 startups housed in American Underground, Durham’s largest co-working space. The companies pitch to the students so students can find which startup is a best fit for them, said Adam Klein, chief strategist for the American Underground.
Howie Rhee, Duke I&E’s managing director for student and alumni affairs, said this event is a valuable opportunity for Duke students.
“This is an important event because even though Duke University is close to downtown Durham, crossing the chasm from being a student to being in the business community is difficult,” Rhee said. “There’s a psychological gap there for many Duke students.”
The event is equally important to the startup community as they search for team members, Klein said. “Startups thrive on good talent. Outside of capital, talent is the most important part of the equation.”
Rhee agreed. “A lot of these startups don’t have the benefit of being a large company with a well-known brand,” he said, adding that startups have to find different ways to attract students.
The event is held early each school year to bring students into the startup community as soon as possible. Rhee said it’s a way to “break the ice”between startups and students.
“We want Duke students to know this is a place you can be a part of,” Rhee said.