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How to Land a Job at a Startup Out of College

This article has been re-posted from our channel on BostInno. Read the original post here.

In your first year of college people say it over and over again, “The next four years are going to fly by.” You know time will go by fast,but you don’t understand just how fast until you are suddenly in your final semester, trying to figure out what you want to do and where you want to be after graduation.

More recently with the tough economic climate, more students are choosing to continue their education. Some take the summer off to travel and others are lucky enough to find jobs. Being the latter, I was fortunate enough to find a job at a startup that allowed me to utilize my skills and pursue my interests – all while working with a great team.

After officially joining Promoboxx three weeks prior to graduation day, Sonciary Honnoll asked if it felt good to know what I was doing after graduation, and how the job search was going for the rest of my peers.

As I reflected, it was both exciting and humbling to know that I was graduating with a job, but it also seemed that my friends were having pretty good luck too. Most of them were well on their way to being employed.

Times have been tough, but the job market is starting to look more and more optimistic for recent graduates. In fact, a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that businesses expect to hire 10.2% more college graduates this year than last. As I look back on how I secured a position at a cool startup (and how my friends are working towards interviews and offers) I’ve noticed some tactics that can help others seal the deal.

Here are five tips to help you land a job at a startup:

1. Networking: It may sound cliche, but it really is all about who you know. I was connected to Promoboxx through a contact I had stumbled upon. A mutual friend had connected us, suggesting that we get together because we had similar interests. I didn’t think about asking her to help me find a job, but after our conversation she saw a fit for me at Promoboxx and the next day I had an interview set up. Never underestimate the power of talking to new people and being curious. Try to set up informational interviews at prospective companies you’d like to work for, and ask friends/family to introduce you to people with careers that fit your interests. Even if those contacts don’t get you a job, they might know someone who could. At the very least you will take home some words of wisdom from your meetings.

2. Internships: Academics are important, no doubt about that. However, real work experience to bridge classroom theory is just as crucial to your professional growth – making you a more desirable job applicant. You learn things at your internships, that you could never learn in the classroom. You find out how to carry yourself in a professional environment and how your skills correlate with your interests. Importantly, you also discover both what you love and dislike about these experiences. I had several internships at various startups and big corporations. They helped me realize my desire to work in an entrepreneurial environment – one where I could directly impact the growth of a company. There are so many internship opportunities in Boston. Check out programs like Startup Summer, and don’t forget universities love connecting students with various companies. You are bound to find one that fits!

3. Studying Abroad: My junior year I ended up studying in London where I discovered my interests in new media and storytelling through a multimedia journalism class. The following summer I was hungry to explore a different culture and expand my world view. So, I studied globalization and interned in a global marketing department in Beijing, China. My time abroad not only allowed me to develop new skills and interests, but more importantly it taught me the benefits of trying new things, and adapting to new environments. All of these lessons learned abroad were invaluable to my own personal and professional development. Employers want to see that you are comfortable functioning in different environments with diverse groups of people.

4. Portfolio: 99.9% of the jobs you will apply for will expect to see examples of your work. Whether it’s your graphic design portfolio, websites you’ve created, or published writing samples, you’ll want to have something tangible to show your interviewer. Do yourself a favor and have a portfolio with all of your work prepared beforehand! The last thing you want to do is scramble to get a portfolio together last minute. Throughout my time at Simmons I would regularly try and get articles published in my school newspaper, or produce stories on our college radio station. Then, I’d archive them all online. Sure enough, Promoboxx asked me to send over examples of my work. Since I had all of the links ready, I was able to do so happily and stress-free.

5. Passion: Last, but certainly not least – if you are not enthusiastic during your interviews you will never land the job. It doesn’t matter what your credentials are. Upon being hired at Promoboxx, I was told our team loved that I came out to their office warming party. It showed them I could not only work, but socialize and have fun. In a startup environment, a passionate team that works well together means serious success!