Entering Startup World!

Filed in From the Staff by on December 11, 2017




Like all job search processes, getting an internship/full-time job at a startup can be a painstaking process at times. Often times students don’t know where to start since startup positions are not heavily advertised compared to larger corporations. Luckily for WPI, a great book was added to the library reserve for students to check out called ‘Entering StartUpLand’. Entering StartUpLand takes you through the process of identifying different roles at a company, where you might fit in and also some great tips to help you land a job in the next big impact start up you are passionate about!

According to Jeffrey Busgang, the author of Entering StartUpLand, the job search process for startups consist of two major steps; choosing the best fit companies and positioning yourself well. In order to find the best fit companies you need to look at four major categories

1.  Picking a domain

To start off with your job search, first you need to ask yourself a series of questions to figure out what industry you are most passionate about. Busgang recommends taking simple measures like making note of articles you skip and those you actively read, the favorite apps on your phone and favorite products. These will help you narrow down industries you are passionate about and would be able to actively contribute in.

2.  Choosing a city

Most people automatically think of Silicon Valley when they think about joining a startup. However it is important to consider the type of startup industry you are passionate about. If you would like to work in fashion design and artwork, you might be better suited in a city like New York. A good way to narrow down a potential city is by looking at startup accelerators and the types of companies in them to get a sense of the startup industry type by city. To get started you can look at MassChallenge and Techstar branches and browse through their cohorts list.

3. Picking the right stage

Startups are divided into different categories including early stage all the way to fully developed companies. Try to picture yourself and see which stage of the company you would have most impact on. If you like working in an environment where you are performing multiple roles and would like to made decisions on the first products of the company, you should consider early stage startups.

4. Picking a winner

It is hard to say where a company would be after 5 years, however there are certain indicators that you can look out for to determine the success of a start up venture. Evaluate the founding members and see if they are able to inspire you and others around you with their vision. Look at the potential market of the company, see if there is potential for growth and also the advantages that the startup has over its competitors. These can be great interview questions that you can ask the founding once you meet them.

Once you are able to shortlist potential companies based on the four criteria above, you can start contacting these companies for job opportunities. Look at job postings at startup accelerator websites like MassChallenge however since startups are usually low in HR manpower, it is important to get your resume above the pile. Try to look for connections within the company via LinkedIn, attend open house events, seminars and expos organized by the startups. Prepare for your first interaction with the company by making a list of ways that you can contribute from your technical and non-technical skills that you gain at WPI. Startups are looking to hire people who like to take initiatives so just discussing ideas on how you can improve their product will make you highly valuable to them. Remember getting a job at a startup is a like a 2 way value exchange where both the applicant and the company benefit highly from your placement.

If you need more information or just some inspiration regarding your job search process take a look at the book in the library reserve. Feel free to shoot any questions in the comments below or at cdcpeeradvisors18@wpi.edu.


Have a great winter break!


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About the Author ()

I am a Mechanical Engineering Senior with a minor in ECE. On campus, I serve as a Resident Advisor and Peer Advisor for the CDC. In the past, I have also acted as the President for the Model UN club and the Squash Club! I have a passion for travelling, exploring new cultures and trying new food!

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