When Jeff Taylor got his bachelor’s degree from University of Massachusetts in 2001, one of the speakers at his graduation was an inspirational entrepreneur, the head of one of the most successful Internet companies going. The speaker was, well, Jeff Taylor.
Taylor, the founder of job-hunting site Monster.com, had first come to UMass 23 years earlier, fresh out of Needham High School. For the next 5½ years he worked diligently, selling advertising for the college paper, leading campus tours, running his own DJ service, and producing a summer entertainment guide, among other endeavors.
“I absolutely loved the college environment,’’ he said, “but I didn’t go to enough classes.’’
In 1984, still several credits shy of a degree, Taylor left UMass.
He worked as a full-time DJ, then as a recruiter and an advertising rep before founding Monster in 1994. UMass was 10 years behind Taylor by then, but he says the lessons he learned there helped him develop leadership skills, entrepreneurial vision, and the confidence to take risks. So when Taylor decided to finish his undergraduate degree, he returned to where he started, UMass, this time as part of the University Without Walls program, which allowed him to complete his studies while continuing to run Monster.
Since graduating, Taylor has left Monster, started three new companies, and taken a job as a senior executive with hedge fund Bridgewater Associates in Connecticut. He credits the university for his continued record of accomplishments.
“My university experience,’’ he said, “was incredible as a training ground for me to go on to find the successes I have had.’’