Making Your Start-Up Job Search More Effective

In this blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.

Looking for a job (or an internship) at a start-up? Many more MBAs are seeking these positions—in fact, 9% of the Harvard Business School Class of 2018 joined a start-up, and more than 40% of the Wharton MBA Class of 2019 is interested in entrepreneurship. But finding these positions will likely require more than waiting for a job posting to appear on your school’s job board. Achieving success in this type of job search—which can result in amazing job opportunities—does require resilience, scrappiness, patience, humility, and passion.

Tips for Positioning Yourself:

  • Understand your target audience and their needs. Be thoughtful about your approach and demonstrate that you can adjust to the start-up culture.
  • Be passionate and knowledgeable about the company—not because it is the new “it” company, but because you believe in its mission, business model, and leadership.
  • Show how you can add value to the organization, but do not over-promote your MBA; it is about what you know and the impact you can make, not your degree.
  • Be willing to do anything; it is usually all hands on deck.

Start-ups are all different, but they typically seek candidates with a high risk tolerance, a match with the firm’s culture, and relevant functional, execution, and soft skills. For more specific suggestions, check out this recent article from The Muse and make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date with your desired positioning.

Tips for the Job Search:

  • Find alums or “warm contacts” for informational conversations. When you reach out to request a phone call, focus on common ground or your passion for the company’s sector and product—do not ask for a job.
  • Have a point of view. Be a user of the company’s products and understand their value in the marketplace.
  • Networking conversations can shift to feel like interviews, so be prepared.
  • Expect that “homework” can be part of the interview process—perhaps data analysis or pitching a new idea or suggesting a new way to position the company in the market.
  • Read relevant trade publications, industry resources, or websites—such as TechCrunch, VentureBeat, CB Insights, Crunchbase, Startup Digest, VentureLoop, Startup Grind, and Built In (various cities)—to gain insights on industries, potential target companies, and upcoming events.

Have you been admitted to business school? If so, do you want to get a head start on defining your career goals? Do you need help preparing for job interviews or learning how to effectively network with your target employers? Or maybe you want to be a top performer in your current role but are unsure how to maximize your potential. Let an mbaMission Career Coach help via a free 30-minute consultation

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2020–2021 MBA Essay Analysis

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