Dear Class of 2012,
As a fellow senior graduating in a few weeks, I’m tired, too, of all the articles, stories, and stats about the dire future for our class: Half of us will be unemployed. Many of us will be working as waiters and bartenders. We’ll spend years as slaves to our college loans.
Certainly there must be some glimmer of optimism in the horizon, and I think I know what it is: find a start-up to work for.
1. Opportunities at a start-up are endless. As a waiter, a bartender, or a retail sales associate, your opportunities are limited. When I used work at a movie theater as a concessioner and barista, the only real opportunity for advancement is to become a shift manager or a supervisor. And once you achieve that next step, what then? Become the CEO of this giant movie chain? Ha! At a start-up, your opportunities are boundless. I came to GlobalMojo with no experience in technology- that’s me on the right, on my first day! I did boring database stuff as a summer intern. Then I took care of our Facebook and Twitter and blog. Then I began to work with our celebrity partners. Now I’m in charge of all things related to our community and marketing!
The beginning felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, really. Manually inputting data into our databases was like inputting fresh popcorn into a customer’s tray. But the difference became clear quickly: there’s a glass ceiling when you’re scooping popcorn. You can only go so far. At a start-up, there is no ceiling.
2. You’re an important part of the team. At a start-up, your position and all that you do matters. I have a close friend that worked at a giant software company in the Silicon Valley (you would all recognize the company) over the summer doing research. She confided in me, “Michelle, I wish I worked at a start-up. I do all this research and hand it off to my supervisor – I don’t even know what they do with my research or what difference it makes.”
If I were to leave GlobalMojo right now (ha!), it would certainly matter. Who would take care of customer service and our social media outlets? Who would draft editorial calendars for our celebrity partners? Who would do press outreach?
3. You’re doing something good. You’re generating funds for nonprofits. You’re making a tool that helps us all be more productive. You’re bringing electricity to homes in Sri Lanka. I don’t think I can say this about all start-ups, but all the start-ups I’ve encountered in Boston and San Francisco are on a mission to make the world a better place: Grantoo, Give To Get Jobs, Roozt, Skillshare, Catchafire, and duh- us at GlobalMojo! With opportunities like this, why would you want to spend your skills and education – that took you four years to master – on products that harm people and/or the environment?
A few days ago Wall Street Journal released an essay about the 10 things your commencement speaker won’t tell you. #3 was don’t make the world worse. “Everyone will tell you that you can change the world. They are right, but remember that ‘changing the world’ also can include things like skirting financial regulations and selling unhealthy foods to increasingly obese children. I am not asking you to cure cancer. I am just asking you not to spread it.”
4. There’s more and more start-ups. And the growth is not slowing down. There are more start-ups than ever. With new venture incubators like MassChallenge in Boston, Hub Ventures and NewME Accelerator in San Francisco, and the growing popularity of start-up events like Startup Weekend, SF Beta, and Boston Beta, major cities are pumping out new companies constantly.
5. They’re hiring. Let me say that again – they’re HIRING! And fortunately for us that don’t understand funny looking acronyms like C++ and PHP OO/MVC, start-ups aren’t only looking for tech talent. You can be a Customer Happiness Agent at Indiegogo or do content production for Blissmo. Here at GlobalMojo, Anthony and Bobby just completed marketing and business internships with us and had positive experiences to share. As of April 18, 2012, there are 15,000 start-up jobs in California, and the overall number of start-up jobs nationwide is growing.
So, where do you begin? Believe it or not, I found my first position at GlobalMojo on Craigslist. However the best way I have found to cut through the clutter of resumes is to reach out to the hiring manager at a company directly.
Good luck, and congrats on graduating!