by Justine Humenansky (GSB ’14)
Eddie Cullen (FCRH ’09), Bronx native, Fordham alumnus and founder of a startup called Bridge, believes that there is no better time for entrepreneurship.
Bridge is one of the first six ventures to find a home at the Fordham Foundry, an incubator that Fordham opened last year in partnership with New York City’s office of small-business services. Bridge’s mission is to connect college students with jobs they’ll want to keep — and in which they’ll succeed.
Bridge evolved naturally as a result of Mr. Cullen’s background. After graduating from Fordham with a degree in economics and a double minor in philosophy and Latin, Mr. Cullen joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, teaching high school economics and religious studies and living on just $85 a month. He then headed to Australia to play professional rugby for a year, and when he came home, he began working as a corporate recruiter.
Mr. Cullen enjoyed recruiting, but he quickly identified several inefficiencies in the process. He felt that the process of evaluating candidates — short interviews and skimming résumés — was insufficient. As a result, people were getting placed into jobs to which they were not well suited.
Recognizing this problem, Mr. Cullen sought out information from Fordham Career Services. He was startled by the statistic that 48.8 percent of students surveyed said they were not confident that they would get a job after graduation. Inspired, he sat down to write, and, 12 hours later, he had a nine-page business plan. He quit his recruiting job and, not long after, found business partners: Daniel McGrory (GSB ’13) and Matthew Novitzky.
What Mr. Cullen, Mr. McGrory and Mr. Novitzky developed is a program designed to help students discover a career path where they will thrive. Bridge holds hands-on career-development events that are grounded in the Jesuit paradigm of experience, reflection and action. Students at these events are given real-world problems to solve in teams, offering them the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities — especially in initiative and collaboration — instead of merely recounting past experiences to recruiters.
Bridge’s founders are ready to test this system out. They will hold a pilot event here at Fordham on November 20, with similar events following at Fordham Prep and Xavier High School.
Applications are open now for the November 20 event, which will feature a portfolio-management simulation in the Hughes Hall trading room. Spots are available for 30 students. By simulating a workplace setting and market events, the contest will measure strengths that are not well represented by traditional recruiting’s reliance on GPA, such as stress management, problem-solving and teamwork. Prizes will be awarded to the top performers.
Through Bridge, Mr. Cullen hopes to emphasize the importance of collaboration and workplace community, and tap into the current generation’s ability to think divergently. People who think divergently tend to have personality traits such as nonconformity, curiosity, willingness to take risks, and persistence. If this ability could be tapped and honed, Mr. Cullen believes it could create a whole generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs.