This post comes to us from Scott Smigler, Chair of the SEMPO Boston Working Group, and CEO of e-commerce marketing firm Exclusive Concepts, Inc.

Last summer, Andrea Wasik and I met with Googlers Seth van der Swaagh and Katherine Allan to propose a crazy idea. We pitched a series of one-day “Search Summits” at local Universities throughout the country that would encourage its best and brightest students to consider pursuing careers in search.

Our logic was simple.

On one hand, the Search industry is composed of technology companies and agencies of all sizes that are starved for talent. On the other hand, the unemployment rate amongst millennials (Americans aged 18 to 29) is over 13%.

We suggested that by bringing these two groups together for a day of learning and networking, we could help grow the search marketing ecosystem while empowering young people to discover meaningful career paths.

We later summarized the grander mission as follows:

Grow and strengthen the “search” ecosystem by advocating “search” to the best and brightest college students throughout the country.

Seth and Katherine didn’t need much convincing, and began helping us to flesh out what would become our first Search Summit at Boston University (watch the video).

Seth helped marshal resources from Google (including both dollars and many volunteers including Whitney Moskowitz who project-managed the event), and we proceeded to sign on Microsoft and Yahoo! as joint sponsors of the event.

We then recruited speakers for sessions that included:
– Search industry overview (both Google’s and Bing’s perspective)
– Career panel discussions from recent grads
– SEO – “Designing and Delivering Great Content”
– SEM – “Effective Marketing Strategies”
– Social Media

In one breakout session, students were given an overview of search marketing strategies, and then asked to create an impromptu presentation for their imaginary CEO. I was amazed how quickly they picked up what seemed to me to be esoteric jargon and relatively complex concepts!

We also signed on 6 local agencies (Digitas, AMP Agency, Gupta Media, RKG, iProspect, and my company Exclusive Concepts), which participated in a networking lunch that connected students with 45 open internships.

130 students in total registered to attend the event, which surpassed my expectations. That was thanks, in large part, to the incredible support we received from the Boston University School of Management, its Dean (Kenneth W. Freeman), and Tony Tristani.

I believe the event went incredibly well, and that it could easily be scaled to cater to students and businesses throughout the country, but don’t take my word for it. Here’s what the students told us in the post-event survey:

– Attendee likeliness to recommend the event to peers: 8.56 (avg from 1-10 scale)
92.3% of attendees “more likely to pursue a career in search marketing”
76.9% of attendees pursuing an internship with a company they met at the summit
100% at least somewhat likely to join SEMPO

SEMPO Working Group leaders from other cities who would like to organize a similar event can feel free to email me with questions, or for the planning materials we used. My e-mail address is

Once again, I would like to thank Google for its incredible support. They provided a lion-share of the resources that made this event possible, in addition to the SEMPO Boston Working Group members Michael Flint (Metropolis Creative), Seth van der Swaagh (Google), Andrea Wasik (Skyword, Inc.), and Pavel Khaykin (AMP Agency).

Again, you may watch a recap of the event below:

Scott Smigler
Chair of SEMPO Boston Working Group
President of Exclusive Concepts, Inc.

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