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Job Fair meets Science Fair: the Hacker Fair returns to Hacker Dojo

Imagine engineers around the country throwing their resumes in the garbage, buying tri-fold science fair displays and flying to California. It sounds silly, but it's necessary at the Hacker Fair--a reverse job fair. The Hacker Dojo, which narrowly escaped being shut down by the City of Mountain View, has hosted these events for years.

“This is probably one of the biggest events we run,” said Katy Levinson, the Hacker Dojo's Director of Development. “We picked out the date for the next Hacker Fair before we decided when the grand opening for our new campus would be.”

Preparing and conducting an in-person interview is expensive, so most candidate screens are designed to cull risky applicants as early as possible. The Hacker Fair is unusual because it is engineered to do minimal culling, and from there reduces the overhead of interviewing multiple candidates.

The end result? Candidates showcase their work and woo window shopping company representatives, and companies get access to some of the brightest and most creative minds that the Silicon Valley and the rest of the US have to offer. With job creation rising slowly but steadily, companies are looking to hire the best people around, and the Hacker Fair turns job fairs on their heads.

“I’m not sure how job fairs currently got the way they ‘normally are,’ but I don’t think they benefit anybody involved in the process. It’s just tradition,” Levinson commented, “Tradition doesn’t cut paychecks though.”

Little about the resulting Hacker Fair looks traditional. After companies spend a few hours admiring the candidates’ work, there is a brief period where candidates can pursue companies they didn’t get to see, followed by a BBQ and a party with a DJ. Far from upset with the change of pace, companies flock to the event, some propelled by their investors.

Innovation Endeavors, a VC that helps connect and support early-stage teams, is not only encouraging their portfolio companies to attend, but is providing party busses to bring candidates and representatives of participating companies from San Francisco to the South Bay and is also sponsoring the after-party BBQ.

“Finding talent is the most difficult problem faced by startups everywhere,” said Celestine Johnson, Creative Director at Innovation Endeavors, “We are collaborating with the Dojo to enable our companies and other startups to connect with top talent in fun and innovative ways. We think the Hacker Dojo cracked the code with this reverse talent fair.”

Candidates seem excited too, "Instead of stressing out over how to write a resume, I can instead focus on making something really cool to show other people" says Bruno Cabral, a programmer who plans to fly in from Chicago for the fair. He’s slated to graduate in June from University of Chicago with bachelor’s of science in mathematics. As for his project? “I’m thinking of brushing off my old poetry generator.”

You can see information on more companies and candidates at: http://www.hackerdojo.com/HackerFair3 The fair is on Sunday March 3rd.



Katy Levinson