Start-Ups Share their Wisdom with Computer Science Students

 

As part of CS Tech Day on September 16, 2016, the Department of Computer Science (CS) and Career Center of Stony Brook University hosted a panel discussion, Students and Start-ups, which highlighted the accomplishments of several start-up companies.

The start-up panelists were Arvind Agarwal of , Phil Rugile of and , Yevgen Borodin of , and Eugene Sayan of . The panel discussion was moderated by two of the CS student groups. Moderators were Yael Romero from and Reid Horton from .

​Following an overview by Anne-Marie Scheidt, Director of Economic Development, of tech entrepreneur opportunities, including the , Romero and Horton queried panelists for advice on blending in to the culture of a start-up company and for steps on how to go about commercializing a business idea.  ​

Agarwal, who is also a Stony Brook computer science alum, emphasized that student internships are key to finding your niche at a company. Internships give students an extra component in their degree program and experience in their possible career. When applying for an internship or a job, Rugile strongly advised students when writing a cover letter to include all of their relevant and important qualities, such as having good communication skills. Many of these companies look to hire people who are collaborative, talented, and energetic.

“First impressions matter,” stressed Agrwal. Agrwal went on to say that it is very important to take time to research companies before applying. The entire panel could not agree more on this point.

​If students are looking to start their career in a start-up company, Borodin, who is also an alum of Stony Brook’s CS department, shared that new computer scientists do much better starting off at start-up companies because they will learn a lot. Borodin said, “You are a big fish in a small pond.”

The downside of working for a start-up company, Borodin was honest to say that job security is unpredictable. With this in mind, this should not scare or deter students. Their passion should drive and motivate them to a career or job that is fulfilling for them. “Don’t do it for money. Do it because it makes you happy,” Sayan said. ​

The panelists also shared important lessons about failure and the challenges they have faced.

“If you are not failing, you are not trying. You’re not growing, if you are not trying,” said Sayan. He explained that failure is good and to “enjoy the pain.” When failure takes place, Sayan encouraged students to learn to pivot and adjust.

Rugile shared that companies fail when they grow too quickly and have no structure to keep up with its growth. As a company grows, the founder has to adopt new responsibilities. This is a challenge according to Borodin. He told the students that he is a computer programmer, but as the founder, right now his responsibility for his company is chief sales manager. Another big challenge Borodin shared was learning to delegate.

Christine Cesaria, director of communications and grants for computer science, was pleased of the event. "We are appreciative of Buncee, Charmtech, LaunchPad, and Softheon's participation in the panel. It was inspirational to hear how each person faced their fears and followed a path to success."