Tiffany J. Franklin, Associate Director
Startup fever seems to be everywhere these days, whether it’s an episode of Shark Tank or watching Silicon Valley on HBO. Entrepreneur centers are popping up all over the country and the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are filled with stories about these types of companies. Have you ever considered working for a Startup?
With the Penn 2017 Startup Fair being held in just a few weeks (Thursday, February 9th in Houston Hall, 11am – 3pm), it’s the perfect time to explore the world of startups.
Neil Blumenthal, cofounder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, defines a startup as “A startup is a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Definitions on Investopedia describe companies in early stages of operations in which founders “attempt to capitalize on developing a product or service for which they believe there is a demand.” Inherent in these descriptions is the element of risk in conjunction with great potential.
For many students, working at a startup serves as an invaluable part of their internship experience. Some become enthralled with that world and choose to remain in that sphere for years (either as employees of startups or entrepreneurs founding their own companies), while others leverage the experience and go on to more established employers. In either case, working for a startup will provide you will a wealth of examples of how you have demonstrated competencies that employers value. For example, since wearing multiple hats is the norm, you will likely work on numerous projects across functional areas. This provides an opportunity to show how you demonstrate initiative, adaptability, problem solving, and teamwork, among other skills.
As with any job search, it’s important to evaluate the values that mean most to you to see if the startup world could be a fit. Career Services has an excellent values exercise that is helpful to review both at the beginning of your job search as you evaluate offers. In addition, it’s important to conduct due diligence on the company just as you would with any potential employer. You want to ask yourself some of the following questions that Ann Fisher outlines in her Fortune article – “7 questions to ask before joining a startup.”
- What’s my tolerance for risk?
- What stage is the start-up in now?
- Has the enterprise shown fast growth so far?
- Who’s in charge?
- Who’s funding the company?
- Will I have a mentor?
- What will my role be?
- Do I have the right personality to shine in a start-up?
There are a wealth of resources available to help you learn more about startups.
- http://www.vpul.upenn.edu/careerservices/careerfields/startups.php (under Resources by Career Field)
- To understand how funding startups work and the various stages, check out the infographic by Anna Vital – http://fundersandfounders.com/how-funding-works-splitting-equity/
- Where to find startup roles (besides the Penn Startup Fair on February 9th), review these job boards
Infographic Source: http://blog.gojobhero.com/10-best-startup-job-boards-infographic
Working for a startup can be a rewarding experience that is invaluable to your career progression. If you would like to learn more, Career Services is holding a workshop/panel called “Job & Internship Search: Startups” on February 2nd from 12-1pm in Huntsman Hall, G50. Hope to see you there and at the Startup Fair on February 9th!