As the time arrives for graduating college seniors to secure jobs, some are shying away from the thought of joining a large corporate structure. Instead they are looking for jobs at startups as a way to make money, assume a position with responsibility and play an integral role in a company’s growth and success.
Though initially their annual salary may be lower, if college grads can secure an equity stake in a growing business, they could have a shot at becoming a millionaire. Entrepreneurship is about living a few years of your life like most people won’t so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.
For my friend George Jacobs, such an approach landed him a position at Leo, a company developing a group-photo chat app that connects people through short-lived photos. Jacobs, a junior at the University of Southern California, is now playing a big role even as this app is still being developed, perhaps more so than he would if he worked at an established large corporation. Jacobs has joined a team that includes two established developers, a designer and a marketing staffer that is trying to deliver results after having received $1.5 million in venture-capital funding.
Many college seniors are seeking to join a budding startup like Jacobs but have difficulty finding the right business. While most startups aren't aiming to bestow equity, it's possible to find a position that comes with rewards beyond money. Here are three tips for landing that startup role:
1. Get involved. Entrepreneurial communities are everywhere. Use websites like Meetup to find a community that fits your interests. Getting involved is all about taking initiative. When I first moved to San Diego, I had to push myself to attend meetings regardless of whether I knew anyone beforehand.
2. Tap connections. Entrepreneurs are more inclined to work with people with whom they are comfortable. If you aren’t getting your name out there through various meetup events, you're missing out. Connect with others to find like-minded entrepreneurs looking for your skill set.
3. Add value. Prove that you can be an asset to a startup. Bring a skill that's necessary for the company's growth. This add-value approach is relevant for developers looking to secure an equity stake. And entrepreneurs often overlook the fact that startups need a face for their company. If you’re a salesperson, use this as a selling point: Remind new business owners that sales is the core of any company.
Some investors will focus on a startup’s team more than the company's actual product. Get involved, get connected and understand what you bring to the table.