Considering a Career with a Startup?
Learn from the best, have impact, make a difference, be part of something special, and advance your career
We’ve guided over 175 students into fast-growing companies. Please read four students’ success stories. They are working with amazing startup teams on exciting projects and technologies.
Why work in startups?
Working in a startup comes with its pros and cons. On one side, you are more likely to work harder and maybe for lesser pay and deal with many uncertainties but the work you do is more rewarding, engaging and meaningful, with a potential of a high return once the company is established and steadily growing. On the other side, you can explore your career options and try different hats before you find your professional niche. Being a member of a smaller team empowers you to take risks, be resilient in the face of failure, make decisions that are impactful in the long run, and get out of your comfort zone. Your work will be more challenging, in a sense that your successes and failures will be immediately recognized. Finally, working towards a common goal or building a solution from scratch that will improve lives of many people, is definitely uplifting and will fill you up with a positive energy.
Fast-growing companies to target
We put together this map to guide you to the emerging growth companies in Massachusetts that are right now hiring interns and full-time employees. It includes over 400 venture-backed tech companies that have received over $11 billion dollars in investment between 5/1/2017 and 5/7/2018. Click on the upper left of the map and explore industries of interest to you.
Jobs for all majors
These companies aren’t just looking for scientists and engineers. For every scientist and engineer, who researches and develops the startup company’s product, there are several others with liberal arts and business backgrounds performing many other nontechnical tasks, too. Here are the key in-demand skills: Social Sciences, Economics & Marketing Majors (Great for analytical marketing jobs)
- Critical thinking and analytical skills; the ability to notice patterns and extract principles
- Interpreting data summaries and performing statistical analysis
- Research skills; including the ability to design, conduct, and interpret research
Business & Communication Majors (Great for content marketing and sales jobs)
- Excellent writing skills and ability to appeal to diverse audiences
- Critical thinking and analytical abilities
- Delivering results with strong attention to detail under tight deadlines
Finance & Accounting Majors (Great for operational jobs)
- Research and analytical skills to make predictions about the future
- Cross-functional communication skills
- Getting the details right – the metrics and platform on which the company can grow
Mathematics, Computer Science & Engineering Majors (Great for programming, web/mobile development and mechanical design jobs)
- Ability to follow complex reasoning and construct logical arguments
- Mathematics skills (algebra, analysis, geometry, statistics, and applied mathematics)
- The ability to learn from failure and move on quickly
Biology & Biochemistry Majors (Great for laboratory-based research and development jobs and business development jobs)
- Experimenting via trial & error and bouncing back after failed hypotheses
- Inquisitive with an innate curiosity and figure-it-out mentality
- Managing data and using it to draw significant conclusions
Psychology and Graphic Design Majors (Great for user experience design jobs)
- Understanding of the human brain and research background make you an ideal candidate to design and run user tests
- Understanding visual design: How does the product look and feel? How do we build quality interfaces quickly and flexibly?
How to get prepared
How do you put yourself in a stronger position to land a role? VDC board member, founder of ThinkB1G, Mike Gaiss, has shared ideas on how to go about this:
Some options to consider are expanding your body of work through side projects to further show passion for your field, finding a VDC startup that you can contribute to and gain further experience, building out your portfolio so that it illustrates and demonstrates what you’ve done and can do. The bottom line: further enhance “your story” and attractiveness to startups.
How to get in the door
Most people trying to land a job at an emerging venture-backed growth company would start by combing job boards and websites looking for that perfect role and then would submit their resume. By taking this approach, you’ll completely miss out on finding the best startup jobs. Savvier job seekers go one step further and network—they find a way to make contact with an interesting company and put themselves at the head of the line of applicants. You see, most startup jobs are never posted. You want to get in the door for a job that doesn’t technically exist yet. In short, there’s a hidden startup job market just waiting for you to tap into it. Here are some steps to follow to find—and land—an exciting position:
- Check out local resources and programs for students such as TechGen and Hack.Diversity, offering various career and internship opportunities for students and connecting students to Boston’s innovation economy.
- If a startup has recently raised money, it doesn’t really matter what jobs are posted on its website (or not)—the company is definitely hiring, and probably across all functional areas. And the sooner you can get in front of that company, the better. To see which startups have raised money, use the map, above, and check out Xconomy for recent financings.
- To fill their open positions, startups use their connections. They rely heavily on the people they know for referrals, including the people they meet at a conference, people their employees know, etc. Be persistent in trying to contact these hard-to-reach people.
- Once you make contact, show that you’re passionate about the company to get their attention, and share how you could chip in across all of the different areas of the business, beyond your core area of expertise.
Now you’re ready to take the leap and kick off your startup job search. It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.
Student scholarship and career opportunities
Looking for an internship or job with a venture-backed company? Cool. Research assistants, software engineers and business development reps (marketing and sales) are in demand. Send us your contact info and we’ll invite you to a workshop to explain how to connect with these companies.
Need a scholarship? Passionate about building a career in the startup ecosystem of Massachusetts, and potentially starting your own company someday?