For many young people, the luster has worn off corporate careers. Want the data to prove it? When one recent survey polled 1,000 Americans, not a single soul said he or she wanted to be a corporate executive. What career took the place of C-suite jobs as most desired? You guessed it--65 percent of respondents said they wanted to be entrepreneurs.
With interest in founding businesses so high, lots and lots of recent grads are certainly hoping to get their foot in the door of the startup world by working at a hot young company. But interest and a firm grasp of realities on the ground are two different things. Recently, Verge asked more than a dozen founders for their best tips for recent grads looking to get their first startup gig. Here are a few of the best:
1. Forget job boards
The likes of Monster.com may have millions of opportunities, but just about none of them will be for that hot position at a fast-growing company. Don't waste your time scrolling through listings. Travis Steffen of Cyber Superpowers suggests a much more targeted and labor-intensive approach: "If I were a recent grad, I'd think about the organization I'd kill to be a part of. I'd then make it my life's mission to get a meeting with an executive at that company to let them know that I'm the perfect person to work for them--even if a position doesn't exist--and I'd work for free until a position opened up."
2. Don't expect to get rich quick
If your main goal is short-term maximization of your compensation, a startup job really, really isn't the way to go. So prepare yourself to earn a lot less than that classmate who went to work on Wall Street. "Be ready to take a pay cut compared to your friends headed off into the corporate grind. Startups are usually tight on cash and offer other incentives like flexible hours, profit-sharing, or remote working abilities. Be ready to get thrifty during your first year out of college," says Kim Kaupe, co-founder of ZinePak.
3. Be a happy generalist
With most startups short of hands, a deep dive into a single area of expertise is probably not in the cards for young employees, says Santiago Halty, founder and CEO of Senda Athletics. His advice: Embrace diversification. "In a startup, you do not have the luxury of specializing in one specific task. For example, if you are doing sales, you may end up doing sales, marketing, outreach, and social media. Embrace this diversification as it provides a wealth of opportunities for experience that would not be possible in a well-established company," he advises
4. Embrace your inner job hopper
A hiring manager at a stodgy corporation may be put off by short stints at many different organizations, but in startup land, switching between projects relatively often is more embraced and often essential. Don't be afraid to experiment until you find the right company. "Startup cultures can range from corporate to frat house, so don't be afraid to look into another startup if the culture isn't a fit. Teams at startups tend to spend a lot of time together so it's important that the organization structure is a fit," says Caitlin McCabe of Real Bullets Branding.
5. Demonstrate your entrepreneurial chops
The right time to demonstrate your interest in startup life isn't when you're interviewing for your first startup job, according to Brewster Stanislaw of Inside Social: "It's quite easy these days to expose yourself to entrepreneurship as a student. With resources like Startup Weekend, Hackathons, and online courses, you can fully immerse yourself in startup culture, thinking, and product development before working at one. As a hiring manager, I look for recent grads who've demonstrated interest and understanding by immersing themselves in entrepreneurship."
What words of wisdom would you offer a young person looking to get a job at a startup?