Seth Weingarten was destined to attend the iSchool. His parents met at Syracuse in the 80s, and growing up, he took several family trips from his hometown in New Jersey to the New York campus. Weingarten thought the campus was beautiful but didn’t necessarily envision himself at the university. That was until he toured the iSchool. Suddenly, Weingarten knew he’d found the college for him.
“I’ve had orange in my bloodstream for longer than I’ve been around,” jokes Weingarten. “But, it wasn’t until I toured the iSchool that I knew for a fact, 100% that I was going to the iSchool. It was a combination of the atmosphere and the building itself. The building feels like a startup company’s office space. It feels like a place where people can come to congregate and experience life. I remember stepping out of the building and looking at my dad and saying, ‘Yeah, this is my home. This is where I want to go.’”
Weingarten decided to pursue a degree in Information Management with a concentration in Web Design. His interest in web design led him to an internship with SIDEARM, a web development company for collegiate athletics. Weingarten worked as a Digital Curation Specialist intern for fifteen months before his 2020 graduation.
When the internship ended, Weingarten began looking for a full-time job. Like many new grads, Weingarten experienced the ups and downs of job searching. He spent a few months sending out resumes and cover letters only to receive rejections or silence. But Weingarten stayed persistent thanks to the support from the iSchool.
“The iSchool is fantastic about teaching you about networking, how to sell yourself to employers and recruiters, and really identify who you are and why you should be getting this position,” says Weingarten. “I was so thankful to have [the iSchool community], even after my graduation, especially Jeff Fouts and Chris Perrello. They could give a little more tough love and say, ‘Look, this is why you’re not getting emails back. This is why you’re not getting calls for the next parts of the interview.’ And that helped me open my eyes. I’m really big on honing in on your allies and making sure that you know who is in your corner. In the beginning, [searching for a job] was not fun, and it was not easy, but I got through it, and it’s because there were people in my corner that helped me.”
The tough love and help led Weingarten to a full-time position with SIDEARM as a Support Specialist for Streaming Services. In addition to web design and web management, SIDEARM also offers streaming services so fans can watch live collegiate events. As a Support Specialist at SIDEARM, Weingarten helps clients and fans troubleshoot streaming issues.
Like many students first entering the tech world, Weingarten dreamed of working among the tech giants like Google and Amazon. But after spending more than a year as an intern with SIDEARM, Weingarten was glad to begin his career at a startup.
“The reason I got into web design was that I’m a big proponent of instant gratification,” explains Weingarten. “So with startups, it was, you’re either going to accomplish this for maybe the first time within the company, and that’s going to feel fantastic. Or you might not do it right, and you just learned a valuable lesson, but it’s not detrimental. You can make a mistake. You can move on to the next project.”
The culture of SIDEARM, and startups in general, also appealed to Weingarten. “You want to actually be there instead of sitting down at nine o’clock in your cubicle, getting your project done, and going home,” says Weingarten. “There’s also more of a family mentality. It’s about knowing the difference between professional and personal, but still keeping a personal connection with the people around you. Because instead of it being you and a sea of employees in gray and black cubicles, it was me and two other guys. It was the creators of the company saying, ‘Look, we’re just trying to do this thing. We know that you’re going to be able to help. You tell us what you’re able to do.’ And that was more than enough for me.”
Weingarten feels new to the startup life, but his track record shows a lot of entrepreneurial intuition. While in college, Weingarten entered the MLB Challenge three years in a row, an overnight technology event where iSchool students develop and pitch ideas to the MLB. Weingarten’s most proud pitch was to use a $10 million budget to revamp the stadiums with tiles that produced energy when people walked. His team found the tiles would produce enough energy in one game to run the electronics of the stadium for the entire year. Weingarten didn’t win that year, but he appreciated the experience of doing something innovative in technology.
Weingarten was also part of the founding class for the professional fraternity Kappa Theta Pi in 2017. “We kind of saw this hole in the iSchool community. It’s really a very small group of people, so you get an idea of who everybody is, but the second you step outside the iSchool, it was just, ‘Okay, see you tomorrow in class.’ And me and my friends, we really wanted to keep our iSchool love and mentality alive, but also have more of a personal connection with each other.”
Weingarten and his friends began looking into different national technology fraternities and found one started at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in 2012. The group of friends connected with the fraternity and asked about starting a new chapter at Syracuse. From there, Weingarten was named Vice President and later President of the fraternity. Weingarten says it was the first time he held a leadership position. Still, it was an excellent opportunity to hone in on the startup mentality that eventually led him to success at SIDEARM.
“There’s a little hangout area on the second floor called the ICE box,” says Weingarten. “ICE stands for innovation, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. I used those three words every day when I was doing anything technology-related or iSchool-related. As long as I kept those three words in my mind and made sure I was checking off those three boxes, I knew that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and I was doing what was right.”