The University of Hong Kong held its first ever Startup Job Fair, organized by CEDARS, on Feb. 5. The event took place a day after the annual three-day long Careers Fair. 34 startups set up booths in the university’s Loke Yew Hall, looking for students to fill part-time, full-time and internship positions.
Startups that featured at the fair came from industries such as technology, software engineering and videography. Notable names included First Code Academy, MakerBay, Cocoon, EasyVan and XDYNAMICS.
Recent studies suggest that Hong Kong’s startup culture is growing extensively. It is the fifth-fastest growing startup ecosystem in the world according to locally-based think tank Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre. InvestHK found that in the past year alone, there has been a 46% increase in the number of startups registered in the 40 incubation spaces surveyed, taking the number up to more than 1500.
However, some students regard startups to be a risky option for the future. Ashwin Dokania, a fourth-year student studying Electronics and Communications Engineering expressed a common fear among students, saying that “In a startup you’re not sure – it might be a success, it might not.” Another student, Caleb Leung said that working in established companies would be “more secure.”
When asked about students’ concerns regarding startups, Lok Wong, a Business Development Manager at MyiCellar Limited, said, “As a student, you’re still young. You’ve got time so why not try something different before you commit to a long corporate career.”
Several other representatives at the event mentioned that working in a startup had its own set of perks when compared to established companies. Paul Verron, Producer at The HK Fixer, made a point about startups having an edge. “A startup is a smaller organization, so as an intern, you will have much more empowerment and be exposed to more situational challenges than in a big company, where you are diluted amongst many other employees, and responsibilities are stratified,” he said.
Mayuri Wadhwani, a second-year History major, said, “You get to learn more with startups because they’re in their starting process and you get to be more involved with what they actually do.”
Emmanuel Ofembe, an HKU alumnus from the class of 2013 who has worked in 4 startups, said that he sought “a bigger experience and more self-expression” which he did not think he could get in bigger companies. Currently working for the startup, Easy Mobile Logistics HK Ltd, he responded with a confident yes when asked if he has achieved this goal.
The fair was an opportunity for students to explore their options and to find out more about what startups had to offer. Leung said that the fair was more or less helpful to him. Dokania compared the Startup Fair to the Careers Fair, finding the latter to be “much more professional.”