How To Get a Job at a Startup

StartupMany people that dream of eventually owning their own business consider getting a job with a startup business. Working for a start up can offer “pre-entrepreneurs” a lot of value. Employees of startups are able to see just how hard it is to run your own business on the day-to-day. At a start up, employees are normally a lot closer to all of the action and important decision making as the team is typically much smaller than those of a corporate office. I’ve had a few people ask me about how to get a job with a start up. This question is particularly popular among those that lack advanced technical skills.

1.     Get to know the industry. Spend some time every day researching what is going on in your desired industry. Pay special attention to news that may relate to the start up that you are looking at. If you don’t have a particular start up in mind yet, begin by researching the tech industry. Many startups are right on the edge and trying new concepts and new things. Knowing as much as you can about the current tech market can only help you in the hunt for the perfect t start up job.

2.     Form a voice and start a blog. Find a topic that interests you that you think you could produce a lot of content about and begin writing a blog. If you are doing #1, this step should be fairly easy. Write about your opinions on some of the top articles and controversies going on in the tech or startup world. The sooner you begin a project like this, the better. Working at a startup requires a startup attitude; a drive to get things done, to get things done cheaply and to have that self motivation. If you stick to writing on your blog at least a couple of times a week, it could boast well for you in an interview.

3.     Be familiar with the startup culture. If you know which company you want to be a part of, then begin researching their company and reading up on the culture that they are trying to create. Many startups take their culture very seriously as this is one of the unique things that they can offer that many larger businesses cant. If you aren’t sure which company you are looking at, just begin researching the cultures of startups around the world and figure out which kind of culture you want to be a part of. This will give you some great information about yourself and what kind of business you might fit best in.

4.     Try for an internship. If you currently lack experience in the startup world then getting an internship might be the best thing for you and your resume. Internships offer invaluable insight into the world of a startup. You will learn how teams work together, what it might be like to work for a startup and the culture of that particular company. The experience will help you tremendously not to mention you may end up getting a paid gig once your internship is complete.

5.     Be a networking guru. You’ve probably heard it said before that it’s not what you know, but who you know. While there are definitely skills that you will have to bring to the table to become a part of a startup, meeting the right people can help get you in the door. Start going to local networking events and begin introducing yourself to entrepreneurs. If you don’t live near a major city that holds events such as these, begin attending webinars and live-streamings online. Not only will you learn from these events, you will be exposed to possibly hundreds of business owners.

For those of you out there who already have or do work for a startup, is there anything I left out?

6 replies
  1. Peter Chee
    Peter Chee says:

    Good suggestions. I really think that the angle of internship is a great one. Many times if you can just get your foot in the door by doing an internship it will lead to a full time job if you kick butt and show them the value that you create by being there. Just goes down to making yourself indispensable even as an intern.

    Another idea is to attend a That will introduce you to the community of people that live and breath startup life.

    Networking is also critical. So much of life is about who you know. It’s far better to create and build relationships now before you really need them. Most people don’t do that, they just network when they need something, that’s too late!

    • Alyssa Magnotti
      Alyssa Magnotti says:

      Great idea for Startup Weekend, Peter. Networking too. Both of these are awesome ways to start trying to connect with people that could be of great help when you are looking to work with a start up for the future.

  2. Charles Sipe
    Charles Sipe says:

    Great points. Another idea that might help is to find people at startups that you are interested in and follow them on Twitter. Then listen to what they talk about and start a conversation with them about topics they are passionate about. Offering to work for free can also help you get your foot in the door. I know a guy who got his job by offering to work for free and eventually became the #2 person at the startup!

    • Alyssa Magnotti
      Alyssa Magnotti says:

      Great feedback! Twitter is definitely one that I should have put in there! It is such a great way to open doors with people that might have otherwise have been hard to get to. And, yes, working for free is great – that’s mostly what I meant by internships. ;]


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