Chicago Mayor spearheads outreach efforts to University of Illinois students
Tom Moone, ECE ILLINOIS
- Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other leaders and representatives of tech companies came to Illinois to encourage students to look to Chicago for tech careers.
- A panel discussion included Emanuel, Mike Evan of GrubHub, Brad Keywell of Lightbank and Groupon, and Eric Lunt of BrightTag.
- Thirty-nine Chicago companies sent representatives to meet with students at a reception following the panel.
On October 2, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and leaders from tech companies throughout Chicago came to the University of Illinois to get the word out to students of the efforts Chicago is engaged in to bring tech companies to the city and to keep talented engineering and computer science students in the state.
Called Chicago After Hours, the evening featured two events: a leaders panel and a reception where 39 companies from the Chicago area came down to engage Illinois students.
At the Leaders Panel, Computer Science Department Head Rob Rutenbar served as moderator to Mayor Emanuel and three other panelists who discussed what it was like to work for and launch startups in Chicago. The other panelists included Mike Evans, founder and chief technology officer at GrubHub; Brad Keywell, co-founder of Lightbank, a venture capital fund, and of Groupon; and Eric Lunt, founder and CTO of BrightTag.
In his comments, Mayor Emanuel emphasized the infrastructure and climate of Chicago has been focusing in recent years on cultivating tech companies and making the city more amenable to those types of businesses.
Speaking to the students assembled at the panel, Emanuel said, “I consider all of you one of the most important things for Chicago’s future,” said Emanuel. “I believe your future is in the City of Chicago. And I want you to see the opportunities in Chicago as part of your future, both in businesses and also the quality of life.”
The other panelists were likewise enthusiastic about the opportunities that Chicago offered to startups in particular. “It’s been amazing to see how Chicago has changed over time,” said Lunt. “There’s such amazing opportunities, such amazing technology that is truly interesting to you [students].”
Keywell agreed: “I guarantee that if you spend time in Chicago, it will be self-evident. You wouldn’t be wondering if this is a viable place to get a job or start a company. There’s capital, there’s talent, and there’s demand for great technologies, for risk-taking entrepreneurs.”
Perhaps the main event for many of the students there was the company reception that followed the panel discussion. Students met with representatives from both young and established companies looking for people with strong technical backgrounds. Such companies as Boeing, Google, Groupon, and Lextech were able were able to show that Chicago had a lot to off students interested in tech companies.
The Chicago After Hours event was co-hosted by ECE, Computer Science, the Technology Entrepreneur Center, and Engineering Career Services on the Illinois campus, as well as by World Business Chicago, the Illinois Technology Association, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, and the City of Chicago.