A few months ago, local iOS App developer, Startup Arkansas Champion and founder of Irvin Media, Luke Irvin, applied to every tech company he could think of — Yahoo, Facebook, Insatgram, Vine, Pinterest — the works.
"Really out of curiosity to see if I would catch anyone’s attention because these are big players and they’re constantly looking all over the board," he said.
One day, a Facebook recruiter messaged Irvin on LinkedIn to see if he was interested in interviewing for a programming job with the social media mogul.
Irvin went through two series of calls with Facebook, but did not advance to the next round of interviews.
During the interview, Facebook representatives were most interested in learning how Irvin thinks asking questions about how he would solve hypothetical problems and he was given some puzzles and equations, he said.
"What I took away and what I think people need to take away from this is, don’t let these questions or any questions scare you because the answer is most likely out there," Irvin said. "There could be a question that no one has answered, but if you Google a company’s interview process, answers are out there."
In 2010, Irvin met the right people and started building his personal brand through different social media and portfolio sites online.
In the recruiting world today, recruiters are on LinkedIn. "They’re scraping the page on a minute by minute basis trying to find talent," Irvin said.
LinkedIn is essentially an online portfolio. Irvin has documented everything he’s done with his career since college on his LinkedIn profile.
"If college students did that today then right after graduation day, if they did amazing things, they could get a call from Facebook or Google or Instagram or any of these people," Irvin said.
Another way to stand out, Irvin said, is by being creative and showcasing your skills when applying for jobs. Build a website, make a Vine or a SnapChat, he suggested.
"I really want kids to see this story and get their butts in gear and really focus on what they want to do and start building that portfolio — ultimately you’re building your own brand online," he said.
Irvin said it’s a hard decision, but it’s his opinion that kids with great ideas should opt out of college life, at least for a few years, to focus on their business.
"If you’ve done something and there’s some value there and you really, really believe in it allocate the next three to four years to doing that," he said. "Get four or five of your buddies who are equally passionate about it, rent a house or hotel, crash on the couch, eat chicken nuggets all day long and build your product. If I was in college that’s probably what I would be doing."
Michael Hargis, interim dean of the University of Central Arkansas college of business and director of EPIC, Entrepreneurship, Public scholarship, Innovation and Community engagement, residential college, said there’s problems with that because you’re eliminating opportunities.
"But do I agree that people should be flexible in their degree pursuit, if there’s something there," he said.
Dan Fisher, director of UCA’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program, said each entrepreneurs’ situation is unique.
"You look at Steve Jobs who dropped out of college, but stayed in a college town, and dropped into classes that ended up in his products like calligraphy, so it’s really impossible to say what is good or bad for a particular person," he said.
David Hinson, EVP and CIO of Hendrix College, said in his opinion, college definitely gives you a "leg up", but it is by no means a requirement for being a "successful" entrepreneur.
"Odds are, you’re going to statistically do better by having a college degree than by not, and while three of the 50 highest paid CEOs in tech don’t have a degree, 47 do," he said. "It’s a numbers game. You help yourself significantly by having a degree."
According to the US Census Bureau, college graduates can expect to earn about $1 million more throughout their lives compared to individuals with a high school diploma.
"Even if these kids fail, they’re gaining more than they would from a semester in college," Irvin said. "It’s real world experience."
Irvin received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from UCA in 2011. View his LinkedIn profile at www.linkedin.com/in/irvinmedia.
(Staff writer Michelle Corbet can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)