Thursday, April 30, 2015

Free Form Factory: An Interview with a Startup

You may have heard about start ups, but what are they, and how does one form? There are a lot of resources on entrepreneurship at RIT through Saunders, the Simone Center or maybe you have learned about it through your coursework and classmates. But sometimes, it's hard to teach such an ambiguous and dynamic topic. We reached out to an RIT Alum, Jordan Darling, who created a company called "Free Form Factory, Inc." to hopefully bring a little insight on what a start-up is and what it takes.

Describe your company and what you do

Free Form Factory Inc. is an advanced manufacturing company, currently focused on high performance personal watercraft. Free Form Factory is dedicated to create freedom on the water. Our first hull, FFF 1.0, is the world's first polymer construction high performance jet ski hull. Free Form Factory has developed proprietary manufacturing techniques and worked with one of the leading polymer manufactures to find a new material to manufacture jet ski hulls, known as Hulklite. Free Form Factory has released its first hull and will be shipping world wide in July 2015. This summer we will be expanding into additional products in the action sports market. Please check out our website and social media pages for more information. @freeformfactory 

Was starting a business something you have always wanted to do? Why?

​Yes, from a young age I have always had the entrepreneurship bug. ​I worked for various companies while at school, to fulfill my co-op requirements. Although it paid well, it wasn't for me.​ I preferred building my own company and doing what I love, while making​ money.​

What kind of benefits do you think developing a start-up has over working for a pre-existing company?

​By developing your own company, ​you control how the company runs and how it is structured. You hire your employees, you pick the location, you drive the company to success. But on the flip side is, you are the one making all of the decisions and not all of them will be correct. Things will break, products will fail, its not the end of the world, it just matters how you react and how quickly you can make the fix and learn from your mistakes. If nothing is going wrong, or nothing is breaking, you're not working hard enough. So expect it and always plan for failures.

What was the biggest struggle you've had to overcome with developing your company?

​The biggest struggle that I had to overcome was balancing my time between starting/running my company and finishing my final semesters at RIT.​
 It came to a point where my some of my school work was sacrificed in order for my business to grow.

What is the most rewarding experience you've had?

​The most rewarding experience so far was when I got to ride our new hull (our first product) for the first time. It was a huge relief and accomplishment at the same time. As a company we put so much time and effort into designing and building our first hull and it took nearly 6 months before it touched the water.​

Is working for a start-up company an option for students? Do you have advice for those students looking to work for a start-up for co-op or full-time after graduation?

​Yes, Free Form Factory is looking for interns and or co-ops for Summer and Fall 2015​
 semesters (NOTE: Posted in Job Zone) I would highly recommend working for a start up company for one of the required co-op terms. One, it will allow you to see how working for a small company is over a large corporation. Two, you will most likely have more duties and responsibilities than you would working for a larger company. Three, you will be involved in a company at its earlier stages and depending on your performance and how well you work with others, you will have a better chance of getting a full time offer. All of those aside, I would still recommend co-oping for a larger company because that may be a better fit, but you won't know until you try.

What advice would you give any RIT student who wants to begin a start-up company?

​Go for it, while you're still young. You have nothing to lose.​

​For more information about Free Form Factory please visit our website at

Thursday, February 26, 2015

How to Work a Career Fair: Student Panel

Every Career Fair we try to gather some students who are pros at the Career Fair. They answer your questions, and so here are some highlight quotes from the last one, February 25th, 2015! (Italics are questions asked by the attendees of the event)

"Recruiters have said to me that only 1 of 10 interviewees send a thank you. The "Thank You" moves you to the top of the pile."

"[For a follow up] I send an email that night thanking them for their time. Remind them of what you talked about."

"LinkedIn can be used for an exhaustive list of your skills, projects and past experience. Put a link in your resume."

"Definitely put your LinkedIn address on your resume BUT only if it's good and updated OR have a business card with the address on it."

Should I talk to the recruiter while they seem to be "reading" the resume?
"YES! Give them a few seconds to scan, then talk."

"Talk to your professors [the week before the Career Fair] about your classes next week. Try to make plans now to make up work, etc."

"Volunteer work is good for a resume: 'Eagle Scout', 'hobbies or interests', 'personal projects', 'as a Mechanical Engineer, an interest in rocketry', etc."

What to put on your resume if you don't have past experience?
"Academic projects, clubs, courses. Get involved on campus."

"The recruiter will look at your resume for 10 seconds so make your best stuff easy to find."

"A 1 page resume is a must. Tailor your resume to each company and take off stuff that a company wouldn't care about."

"References probably won't be asked for in an interview. They might be asked for on a paper application. Be sure you have the info."

"It's okay to take a minute and think about [a question from a recruiter], or even ask for clarification."

What questions have stumped you?
"'What kind of field are you interested in?' Many RIT majors are so broad it's hard to say."

What kind of questions can you ask employers?
"The recruiter might be an alumni, you can ask them about their RIT experience."
"Research the company and their projects, and ask about them. Ask why they love working there."
"Ask the recruiter what they're doing in their job, projects they can talk about, etc."

"If you are on a Visa, research companies to see if they will hire you."

"Get there early and run to your "A" company to beat the line. But be prepared to wait lines."

"Be ready to show how you can fit into their company and what skills you have that they can use."

What do you wish you knew?
"Recruiters are often the same year after year so visit companies again and again. Build relationships."
"Don't be intimidated. Go talk to the company even if your friends say they aren't interested."

"Not having a good conversation with a company happens. Go on to the next company with a positive attitude."

"Offers don't come every time. Don't get discouraged. This is a networking opportunity. You get better every fair."

"Think about what it is about you that sets you apart from all the others."

"Get the recruiters business card IF it was a good conversation. Follow up after the fair!"

What do you bring?
Folder packed with resumes or portfolio to carry them in. Get the resume out BEFORE you get to the employer."

What do you wear?
"No distracting jewelry, no overwhelming perfume or cologne."
"Think about the company culture, ladies a button down shirt and nice dress pants, not heels for the club."

60 Second Commercial?
"Just introduce yourself in 2-3 sentences. It's not really 60 seconds!"
"Tell the companies why you are talking to them, you major, what you are involved with on campus."

"Go to company events that are held before the fair!"

"Use the map [or Career Fair Plus App] to prepare your strategy" *Note this year you must print out the map yourself."

"Research the companies beforehand, have a plan of attack, tailor your resume to each company."

Thank you to the student panel volunteers and everyone you came to the event! Remember, check out our Twitter account for live coverage of events, or more specifically #RITCF for anything Career Fair related!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Technical Portfolios

What is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is a collection of projects that highlights your abilities, achievements, and intellect. It allows you to share samples of your work with potential employers using a website or document (.pdf or powerpoint). 
  • The portfolio is designed to do one thing—to support you as you market yourself.
  • A well-prepared portfolio provides "evidence" to the reviewer of your accomplishments, skills, and abilities

How do portfolios differ from resumes?
Portfolios can expand on your resume:
  • They allow you to provide concrete examples of your work.
  • They can directly demonstrate your intellect, technical skills and visual competence.
  • They can also improve your visibility.

Do I need a Portfolio?
A portfolio is useful if you want to demonstrate your technical and design skills beyond the description on your resume.  A portfolio can also set you apart from other candidates since not many applicants use one.  Interviewers and hiring managers remember pictures over text so a portfolio can help you be remembered.  Whether you have a hard copy or an on-line portfolio, you can use it during the Career Fair.  Bring the hard copy or bring a tablet and show the on-line version.

Guidelines for Content:
Pics and documents that demonstrate abilities and experiences which are directly related to hiring needs or job field of prospective employer, and gives a sense of your competencies. In your descriptions, walk your reader through the process from design to completion.  
  • Engineering design projects
  • Future or planned projects – show the design, budget, parts list, calculations
  • Writing samples and a modified resume (see information on copyright and privacy)
  • Labs
  • Club projects

Portfolio Website & Examples:
Students who have used this site say that it’s as easy as Facebook and only took 60-90 minutes to put together their portfolio.  The hardest part is collecting the pictures of your projects.  You can look on the site and see many examples of engineering portfolios – Search for People, then under “Specialties” on the left, click on Engineering.  If you want to see a couple of portfolios by RIT students, look at James Hertzel or Timothy Halsch.

Linkedin as a Portfolio:

The idea is to give users the opportunity to display their work rather than just talk about it. Go to your LinkedIn profile, and next to any module or position on your personal profile you'll see a small square image with a plus sign on it. Click this to either upload a file or add a link to your work.   (See more here)
See this recent RIT grad’s Linkedin page for ideas: Jose Cuevas

Linkedin vs. Coroflot
Should you use Coroflot or Linkedin to display your work (or both)?  Coroflot is picture heavy and text light so if you have a lot of work to display and don’t want to spent time writing and editing content then Coroflot is for you.  Linkedin is text heavy so if you don’t have a lot of pictures to display then you may find that Linkedin works for you.  If you use Linkedin, be sure to spend time writing a strong Professional Heading (the title under your name) and Summary.

Portfolio Link on Resume
You should put a link to your portfolio and/or your Linkedin page on your resume.  It can be placed in your header with your address, email and phone.  Put it in as an active hyperlink so that anyone viewing your resume digitally can click and go.  Be sure that you spell out the whole address though so that anyone who has a paper copy of your resume can type in the portfolio address and see it.