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Keeping talent local: How a J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship business got a York College graduate to stay

November 10, 2016
Dan Mashuda
Dan Mashuda, a 2016 York College graduate, stands with his girlfriend, Brittany Reichelt, also a York College student.

After recently earning his degree in Computer Science from York College of Pennsylvania, Dan Mashuda’s job offers came in from many of the technological hot spots in the country.

But the decision of where the 2016 graduate took his talents might come as a surprise.

“Dan literally could have gone anywhere, and he chose to stay here in York with Dataforma,” says Jeff Vermeulen, executive director of the J.D. Brown Center for Entrepreneurship. “We hear a lot about the ‘brain drain’ problem in Pennsylvania for a reason — we too often lose our best and brightest young people to opportunities in other parts of the country upon graduation.”

Mashuda could have been another one of those statistics, but he stayed close to home with a company he was familiar with at a location he knows well.

“I have my family here,” he says. “I really enjoy Dataforma and love the people I work with. Everyone knows each other, and it’s just a good atmosphere to work in.”

Unique opportunity for locals

Mashuda, who is now in his first month on the job as a software engineer for Dataforma Inc., is already the perfect example of what makes the school’s J.D. Brown Center special.

A 2012 Dallastown Area High School grad, Mashuda stayed local and studied at York College. While there, he both interned and worked part time at Dataforma, which is located inside the J.D. Brown Center.

The 10,000-square-foot business incubator in the York College Kings Mill Depot building also plays a significant role in the education and in cases such as Mashuda, placement. The concept also provides a unique opportunity for area entrepreneurs.

“Dataforma was our first incubator client company and remains an important part of our program,” Vermeulen says. “Dataforma, and our other incubator client companies, are housed in our incubator for a period of up to five years until they essentially ‘hatch.’”

A gradual process

Mashuda showed enough skill during his internship that a full-time position was waiting for him upon receiving his degree this spring. Knowing the company, and much of the work involved, was beneficial to both parties.

“Dan has all the qualities leading technology businesses salivate over — smart, ethical, hardworking and capable,” says Mark Zeleznock, CEO of Dataforma. “There is serious tech talent to be found here in York County thanks in large part to York College. We couldn’t be happier.”

In his latest position, Mashuda focuses on similar work he did as a student intern, just more of it.

“It’s a gradual process that, as I work more and get more experience, I will gain more autonomy,” he said. “It’s meant to make me comfortable working with the software we have here.”

It’s not just Mashuda’s work with Dataforma that stands out. As an eagle scout, he’s contributed to the community and worked with his peers on several projects. His well-rounded experience not only made him a good candidate to work with Dataforma, but to assist in another J.D. Brown Center start-up, Moena, founded by York College student Kyle Musco.

Pushed to do better

In many ways, Mashuda has come full-circle working in a building he formerly studied in. Whether part of his theoretical, his book learning, or working on the “skeleton project” interacting with the Dataforma database, he was ready.

From there, he went on to work with the mobile team, as a part of a year-long project working on an Android app.

The only difference now is instead of being an intern looking to the Dataforma staff for guidance, he provides it to current students that are interns for the summer. He has also found it to be beneficial for himself.

“We are constantly defining our process here,” Mashuda says. “Software development is something you have to keep on top of. You want to stay on top of the versions of your languages, your libraries and the security part of it. It’s a job that’s always being redefined – and I’m excited to see how that pushes me to do better.”