“Fish don’t climb trees.” Robert Jackson (SFS ’14) told me he learned that the summer after graduation while he was working at a large public relations firm in DC. Now he is an account manager at Event Farm, a profitable start-up on the cusp of Series A funding. Though he learned a lot over the summer, Jackson felt stifled: “I realized I couldn’t thrive unless I’m me.”
Jackson’s time at Georgetown made it clear to him what his skill sets were and where he fit in: “I do my best when I network and talk to people and let my curiosity take me somewhere.” Though he was a Culture and Politics major in the SFS, Jackson’s curiosity took him to a talk put on by GEMA, the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance, during his junior year. One speaker stood out to Jackson – Georgetown Alum and the founder and CEO of Event Farm, Ryan Costello.
“I felt that he had passion, the same passion that got me to Georgetown.” Jackson put his own passion to good use and “harassed” Costello with an email every two weeks for two months until finally getting a response. This approach led to an internship the spring of his junior year, despite the fact that Event Farm did not have a formal internship program.
Though Jackson has “grown to love the start-up environment,” the factors that originally drew him to Event Farm were Costello and his enthusiasm. Shortly after he attended the talk by GEMA, Jackson left the PR firm he was working at to join Event Farm, where one of his first assignments was to run the start-up’s entire project at Disrupt San Francisco, a Tech Crunch event for start-ups. The three-day event saw Jackson as the coordinator for three events in three different venues. What he discovered there was that he had made the right choice moving to Event Farm, and that he loved the gritty lifestyle and zeal of people working at start-ups.
Now Jackson is an account manager at Event Farm, managing clients’ expectations and bridging the gap between large corporate clients and the people creating software for the company. He sees Costello, who started Event Farm in his late 20’s, as a model, and hopes to “pick up a skillset now to turn whatever I dream into a reality in the future.”
Time and time again in our interview Jackson stressed the “passion” he felt about his work. To him too many grads seek to impress their friends and talk about their jobs and “try to force something because it’s what is expected of them.” With a degree from the SFS and a proficiency in Arabic, Jackson could be working in the state department or he could have stayed in his role doing public relations. Instead, he is working with the 20-person team at Event Farm. “I don’t think event software is [going to] save the world,” said Jackson, “but I think people with passion can and that can come from a start-up mindset.”