Austin’s SXSW festival provides networking opportunities

The South by Southwest festival in Austin has morphed into the model for employment networking, according to several students and professors who plan to attend.

The festival, commonly known as SXSW and originally founded as an outlet for musicians who were not on either coast, has gradually drawn more people in with the interactive and film portions of the festival, according to

Senior strategic communication major Jacob Barrett said he hoped to get an edge on students who were still in school by meeting people while working behind the scenes at SXSW.

Barrett said he will volunteer to facilitate speakers by making sure they were comfortable and in the right place at the right time. He said he got the gig by responding to a tweet from his friend Matt Williams, who graduated from TCU last year and now works for Hewlett-Packard.

“The next big thing is always announced at South by Southwest,” Barrett said. “Twitter was announced there.”

Barrett said he will attend the interactive festival this weekend but had plans to attend the music festival a week later.

According to, the music festival started in 1987 and the interactive and film portions were not implemented until 1994 as a response to growing film and high-tech companies in Austin.

Senior anthropology major Travis Hildenbrand said he and his band, Collective Dreams, were going to Austin to play at house parties. He said a number of bands get picked up by producers or managers who attend the parties.

Artists who attend SXSW use a more artistic form of networking, Hildenbrand, who is his band’s drummer, said. He said he was taking advantage of the opportunity to showcase his soul through music and that SXSW gave creative minds the unique chance to share and collaborate together.

Chip Stewart, a TCU media law professor, will hold a panel discussion on intellectual properties in social media at the interactive portion.

Stewart said he attended the music festival when he was a law student at the University of Texas and that he appreciated the growth and use of the interactive and film portions.

“It’s a great place to see what people are doing in the industry — what tools are out there, what are the big ideas people are thinking about,” Stewart said.

Barrett said students who attend school in Texas should take advantage of the numerous networking events that were held nearby. He advised his peers to go to SXSW at least once during their time at TCU.