Skip the Career Fair, do this instead

alejandro-escamilla-2

Yes, we’ve all been there. Tuesday morning at a Career Fair. You wait in line for 30 minutes to talk to a recruiter named Chad who will tell you thanks for coming but apply online. Thanks for nothing Chad!

In my particular case, the idea of going to a career fair was not fun. I only went once and that was enough. None of the companies had anything to do with what I liked and I had no interest in talking to Chad again.

Getting the right job and following the right process is really hard. It takes a long time. It takes a lot of networking, it takes social skills. It takes a lot of caffeinated meetings. Heck! that’s the reason this blog is called coffee or beers. That’s how I start all my new network relationships.

That being said, most students and individuals don’t do these things regularly or consciously. So these are what I would recommend anyone do instead of attending career fairs.

Use good Resources

My university had a great resource to connect students to corporate jobs. If that is what you are looking for then I recommend you take advantage of those services. At NC State it was called e-Pack.

For those of us a little more “startupy” there are three resources I find super helpful:

  1. AngelList – AngelList has to be the most underutilized resource out there. It has a massive collection of high growth startups. Most students I talked to in my senior year had no idea it existed. I was able to get highly competitive offers through there, so you should check it out.
  2. First Round Talent – One major thing that students and professionals ignore is that venture funds publish startup jobs through their sites. It is tough to get a job through here but it is worth trying. First Round has a survey they use to match and evaluate candidates. To my knowledge, Unshackled (for my fellow immigrants) has one, Backstage has one too, and Sequoia has a really extensive one. So check those out.
  3. John Gannon – for those who want to break into venture, John’s site and newsletter are the ultimate resources. The site collects job postings, readings, guides, literally everything you need, so check that one out here.
  4. BuiltinNYC – I love New York. Like a lot. So if you a looking for a job in the Big Apple this is an underutilized resource too.
  5. Bonuses: Hacker News, Crunchboard.

Listen to good Advice

There are a lot of people out there who give advice. A lot of it gets summarized to “find your passion”. I don’t remember the last time I met a 20 something year old who was 100% sure what his/her passion was. So how do you find your passion?!

Thus I think optimizing for learning and picking an industry that you like should be a starting point. I believe that it is more about building a passion than finding it. You find something you like and then you build a passion around it with years of dedication.

I’m grateful to Anand Sanwal CEO of CB Insights who sent me this email when I asked him about an important decision I had to make:

 

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 12.28.07 PM

 

Moral of the story

Expand your network and surround yourself with smart people who challenge you. Not as easy as it sounds, especially when you don’t know the people in a company personally. That is why it is important to network and do your homework. If you find common connections ask for intros and coffee meetings. Talk to everyone you meet and build a relationship with them.

For non-tech individuals is even harder in the startup world. So in most occasions, you must develop a specific skill set that adds value directly to the startup. From the conversations I’ve had over the years. The current most valuable skill sets are growth and product.

Growth is important because it is about building traction and getting the company from the stage it is right now to the next. For the basics, I recommend reading Traction by Gabriel Weinberg.

In my experience, product is tricky because if you don’t have a background building product it is really hard to get in. So you have two options: start building a product as a project and document the process. I would suggest blogging about it or building a youtube channel for it.

You can also start working at a high-growth startup or corporation where you can slowly evolve from a junior role in the marketing department (design or engineering even easier) and progressively move horizontally to the product management team. I recommend reading Hooked by Nir Eyal to get started. You will find that many disciplines are part of product so look for all the resources you can about product management. First Round’s product blog is an awesome place to start too.

For both techies and non-techies, grit and hustle is a must. Although I would add curiosity to that equation. Asking questions and admitting that I don’t know things has always brought good things to me on top of reading…a lot!

If you made this all the way down here you deserve the best and I love you. So here are the must-watch snaps about this topic, courtesy of Mark Suster. You will love these three, I promise 🙂

Getting a job at a startup

What career advice for those starting a career

Getting a great job or internship


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