Job Fairs? Networking Events? Those are so Yesterday for Today’s Entrepreneur.
I vividly remember first meeting Brandon Schwartz ’17 during Orientation Weekend 2013. It was during a scavenger hunt, where a group of 1st years were required to identify and find various locations on campus based upon a couple of clues. Out of a group of about 15-20 first year students, Brandon was the only one who approached me, looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and introduced himself upon entering the Undergraduate Center for Career Development. His friendly, approachable, professional manner left an impression on me. Not more than two weeks later, he approached me at E&Y’s ice cream social and thanked me for my part in welcoming him to campus. You can’t help remember someone like that!
It’s not a surprise that Brandon has already evolved as a leader during his first two years at Babson – RA for the Living Entrepreneurship and Social Change Communities, Sustainability Intern, and Admissions Assistant, to name a few. He is actively engaged with my office, and I am always inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial enthusiasm he brings to his own career development. This past winter break, he took it upon himself to fly out to San Francisco and immerse himself in its innovative tech and start up communities. I asked him to share his story with us. Read on and be inspired!
Guest blog written by Brandon Schwartz, ’17:
Entering the start-up and technology world is definitely different from traditional career paths, and requires much more than the conventional ways of getting jobs through typical career expos and networking. So far, for me, it has been a difficult and rewarding experience. Many doors have opened for me and I’ve had the privilege of meeting some amazing people, from the CEO of Secret to Babson alumni at Google. Below I list five essential things students must do to successfully brand themselves with start-ups and technology companies, from San Francisco to Sydney, or Boston to Bangkok:
#1: Network, network, network! If you’re not on LinkedIn, you best create an account right now. Whether it be connecting with alumni currently working at start-ups, sending inMails to 2nd degree connections, or attending college-sponsored networking events (such as Babson Connect in New York or Miami), getting to know people trumps the knowledge and skill sets you have. Building your network is only the beginning of this entire process. At the end of the day, it’s who you know, then what you know.
#2: Visit the right websites to find internship opportunities. I took a few approaches to finding internships to apply to. First, I created an AngelList account. AngelList allows you to search for start-ups all over the country and for internship positions by location, company, role, and so on. This gives students the opportunity to make their search as specific (or broad) as possible. What I personally like about AngelList is that it does not only list what positions are available; you can write personal messages that are sent directly to the company, whether it be the CEO or Head of HR/Recruiting, showing that you express interest in a company. Adding the personalized messages gives you the opportunity to tell companies why you are interested and how you will be a significant contributor to their team. The Muse is also another wonderful resource to find internships. From the Bay Area to Miami, or Seattle to Boston, countless positions are posted for companies, so look around for what seems interesting. Another favorite site of mine is this list of San Francisco start-ups. Although this is just a list of start-ups, San Francisco and the Silicon Valley is considered the start-up capital of the world, and just clicking on each start-up allows you to view the jobs each company has under their ‘careers’ page.
#3: Don’t brag about yourself; tell them what you can contribute to the company’s team.
Most internship applications will have a place for you to attach a CV, resume, cover letter, or somewhere for you to present to the company your experience, education, accomplishments, and the like. If you just talk about what you have done, you’re reiterating your past; no one will hire you solely based on your past. You need to tell recruiters what you can contribute to them because they want to know what skillsets you can bring, in addition to what requirements they post. You have to give the recruiters and those at the company you’re visiting/talking to why you are the candidate they should hire; giving the employees at the company what you bring to the table that is unique.
#4: Visit the Center for Career Development and Consider an Intern Coach.
A visit to the CCD office is definitely beneficial to create a game-plan of what you can do to. The professionals at the CCD office will be able to work with you to strategize over the short and long-term what is necessary to successfully complete applications and other things. I was also fortunate enough to connect with someone who is a student intern coach. The advantage of having a student similar in age to you who had successfully worked for a technology company or startup—from Shyp to Palantir to even RelayRides—is that they can talk to you about their experience with applying for internships and interviewing. They can give you a fresh idea of what it is like to apply to, interview for, and work at start-ups and technology companies all across the board.
#5: If you get to the round of interviewing, PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE!
I cannot stress this enough. Interviewing is where you can truly sell yourself, and this will usually be the “hit-or-miss” moment. I will give a few tips on interviewing:
–Don’t arrive late, but not too early, either. Arriving late shows you are not punctual, but coming too early pressures your interviewer to finish with what they are currently working on.
–Do your research on the company/start-up you are going to visit. Sites such as CrunchBase are wonderful for you to look at a company’s history, see by whom and when they were funded, C-level employees that work there, etc. Knowing what they do and what their products/services are is a given, so be sure to visit their website well in advance before going to an interview. Do you need to be fluent with what they do? Obviously not, but you have to go over their website before you step out the door for their interview at least once, not when you are sitting down near the reception desk for the first time.
–Look up top interview questions for X company, and make sure you have a few questions of your own to ask them! Those who interview candidates at companies such as Google, Uber, Airbnb, and smaller companies love to ask ‘curveball’ questions that will throw off potential employees. Check out what these companies ask and think of ways to approach them appropriately. You always want to make sure you have a couple of questions to ask the recruiter, but be sure to check on a search engine that the questions you plan on asking are not foolish ones. (Maybe Google “Questions not to ask in an interview” or “Questions to ask start-ups” for a start!)
–Turn to a search engine! Don’t know specifics that weren’t stated above? Feel free to use the internet to your advantage.