There is no typical route into the entrepreneurial scene but there are things you can do to get noticed. Here's why you should work in the sector and our four top tips to help you on your way...
Why should you work in the entrepreneurial sector?
- A sense of adventure and mission: Entrepreneurial businesses are normally trying to change something in order to make things 'better' so there is often a real sense of excitement and adventure as the company, and the team you're part of, works towards that goal. There will often be a sense of achieving something worthwhile above and beyond just getting a pay cheque as you're striving every day to improve things. As Steve Jobs said to the first CEO of Apple he hired from Pepsi, "You can spend your life selling sugary water, or you can come and change the world with me." Read 5 pieces of career advice from self-made billionaires.
- Responsibility: Unlike many larger more corporate businesses, career progression in a start-up normally depends on results, not how long you've been in the organisation. If you deliver, you should be rewarded with quicker career progression and a rapid salary increase.
- Skills: If you aspire to start your own business one day, then being in a company that's scaling can give some great skills and make the chances of your own business succeeding a lot higher as you've seen how it is done already.
- Diverse and interesting work: Often in small businesses you'll get full cross-functional exposure as you'll see everything from sales to operations, marketing to tech, allowing you to see what areas of business you enjoy most. This can be great if you're not yet sure what you want to specialise in.
How to get started...
1. Stay tuned
Like most graduate recruiters, there is no structured application process for working in this sector. Whilst established businesses hire most of their graduates from penultimate year summer internships, start-ups very rarely do this.
Start-ups also recruit on a rolling basis for their entry level jobs, rather than a yearly 'graduate intake'. You'll need to consistently check the relevant company's job pages and/or LinkedIn pages to see if they're hiring.
Start-ups also tend to post details about open positions on twitter and facebook, and so be sure to follow/like them to help you stay in touch. It's also excellent practice to do this anyway - as it means you'll be able to keep track of what they're up to should you secure an eventual interview.
2. Gain some work experience
Any experience. Fresh graduates are a risk to start-ups. As talented as you are/were at university you may lack the skills needed to succeed in this new, often high-pressured environment.
Gaining relevant experience in small businesses will not only improve your CV but you'll also understand how you can add value to a small business. Are you a sales ninja or a coding whizz? You might be pleasantly surprised.
Get some experience and find out what you're really good at and how that's relevant to a start-up. By doing work experience, you'll also gain a greater understanding of what life is really like in a start-up and how well you cope/survive/flourish in that environment. Find out why SMEs are worth applying to.
3. Compile your 'dream list' of start-ups that you would like to work for
Monitor start-up portals such as Ignite to keep an eye on which start-ups are growing quickly and who is raising money. If firms are raising money they are normally doing this as they want to hire more people.
Monitor these companies' jobs pages and if you see something that comes up, apply! Alternatively, do not be afraid of sending in a speculative application and following it up with a call/email. Discover the leading graduate employers in Entrepreneurship & Start-up.
Or, if you want to start your own, here's 10 practical steps to starting your own business.
4. Network, network, network
Referrals are the most successful way that companies fill their job vacancies (good people know good people), so go to events and network with people who may know a company that's looking to hire. Lots of these events are free and while it can seem daunting at first, once you've done a few, you'll become even more confident.
All start-up businesses need great talent to grow, so let people know you're in the market for a role and they may put a good word in for you. Learn our top tips on how to get into a start-up.
Browse graduate jobs and view Bright Network's list of entrepreneurship and start up graduate jobs and take the next step towards your career.