New York takes its engineering talent crunch to the NYSE floor

We’ve talked about the rise of New York as a tech hot spot, but the challenge of attracting good engineering and technical talent remains one of the region’s biggest hurdles. Now Next Jump, a New York–based rewards and offers provider, is teaming with the New York Stock Exchange to host a major engineering-only recruiting event on the floor of the NYSE.

Next Jump and NYSE are hosting the SA 500, or Silicon Alley 500, a bid to bring 500 top engineering students from Washington, D.C., to Boston to meet 50 of the best East Coast technology companies. The event, scheduled for Oct. 15, will attract students from MIT, Cornell, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Carnegie Mellon, Brown and Georgia Tech. Applications are being accepted for both companies and students here.

Now, there’s no guarantee that SA 500 will meet its goals for students and companies. But it’s a major effort to strengthen the New York and East Coast tech ecosystem and help companies to grow and thrive without losing talent to Silicon Valley. It also shows that New York is rising to the challenge of being a major tech destination.

“There are great tech opportunities on the East Coast, but the infrastructure for bringing tomorrow’s talents together with today’s entrepreneurs needs strengthening,” said Charlie Kim, the CEO of Next Jump. “By taking it to the next level with events like SA 500, we are bolstering the engineering community as a whole.”

Kim said the event is unique for its venue, a place few ever get to see, as well as its focus on engineers only, together with tech companies. He said Next Jump has taken the lead on this because it has made significant inroads in on-campus recruiting, and earlier this year it piloted a recruiting event in conjunction with the New York Economic Development Corporation in Boston that attracted 18 tech firms and nearly 200 students.

The SA 500 is just one of many endeavors intent on elevating New York as a tech hub. Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced plans for Applied Sciences NYC, a bid to build or expand a state-of-the-art engineering and applied sciences campus in New York City, a project for which Kim is a key advisor. Kayweb Angels, a new angel investment group, launched in April to solve New York’s engineering talent crisis by offering development resources to startups in exchange for equity. Hackcruiter, a New York–based startup, is helping startups find good engineers in New York and San Francisco.

As Chris Dixon, Hunch CEO and the co-founder of Founder Collective, pointed out in a blog this week, the problem isn’t so much about supply. It’s that New York has a problem marketing itself as a destination for engineering talent.

The problem is that NYC startups are basically unknown to students at MIT, CMU, Penn, and even (shockingly) to engineering students at NYU and Columbia (big props to HackNY for trying to fix this). East Coast CS students also view startups as a much riskier path than they actually are. I say this having been at dozens of events with East Coast students over the last year or so talking about startups. I’m constantly amazed that most of the students simply don’t realize startups are a viable option.

One event won’t change things for New York, but it may help in the overall marketing message for the city as it tries to convince engineers that it has plenty to offer.