Student? Like tech? Rahm's got Lolla tickets for you

May 01, 2013|By Mick Swasko, @swasko | RedEye

Networking rarely sounds so good.

As part of ThinkChicago – a program from Mayor Emanuel built to showcase Chicago’s growing tech and startup scene – 100 students from across the country have the chance to get their hands on three-day passes to Lollapalooza, and a chance to rub elbows with some of the city’s top tech companies.

“You’ve got this international spotlight in the summer with Lollapalooza, demographically appropriate for people looking for jobs, why not use it?” said John Tolva, the city’s Chief Technology Officer. Students have until May 31 to apply for the event.

At Lolla, Tolva said, those chosen will have access to the fest’s producers in a question-and-answer session, as well as a chance to tour backstage areas off limits to the general public. Originally, the three-day passes to the Aug. 2-4 fest were a way to “sweeten the deal” for applicants, but Tolva said the opportunity to have access to Lolla producers could translate to the career paths some of them may be taking.

“Chicago is really well known for the technology of music,” he said. “We’re kind of playing that up.”

It’s the largest ThinkChicago event to date, Tolva said, expanding from 50 students invited to Chicago Ideas Week in previous years to 100 students attending a day of networking before spending all three days at Lollapalooza. Events prior to the fest include a panel moderated by Emanuel that includes Obama for America 2012 CTO Harper Reed, Siri founder Dag Kittlaus, BrightTag CTO Eric Lunt, Eved co-founder and CEO Talia Mashiach, and GrubHub co-founder and CEO Matt Maloney, “speed interviews” by local tech-companies and a career fair at startup hub 1871.

Tolva said it’s all business before the fest, then attendees are free to see all the shows they want.

“We’re not asking them to skip seeing a band so they can go see a panel,” he said.

Ideal candidates are “enthusiastic about digital technology, computer science, innovation, or entrepreneurship and have demonstrated a commitment to excellence as evidenced by academic honors, leadership ability, extracurricular activities, and/or professional achievement,” and are preferred to be in their junior and senior years of their undergraduate degrees.

Though students from across the country are invited to apply, Tolva said students at local universities are encouraged to apply as well.

“ThinkChicago was started to stamp the flow of talent out of Chicago to the coasts,” Tolva said. “We’re showing off quite frankly. Hopefully it changes the perception of Chicago, that it is a top destination for young people.” 

Those interested can find applications here. 

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