Startup Institute

Startup Institute is a career accelerator, offering transformative educational experiences for career changers and recent grads that combines hard skills with cultural acumen to drastically increase the impact of startup employees.
Learn about the full-time program →

RampUp is Startup Institute's part-time, community-driven learning experience that combines online resources, in-person meetings, and instructors to help students build technical skills from the ground up. Currently available classes include: Intro to Ruby, Intro to Web Design, and Intro to Technical Marketing. Learn about RampUp →

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Transitioning careers is never easy. It is inherently risky. Changing trajectories and moving into an unfamiliar, if exciting new world is, by nature, drenched with uncertainty.

But then again, your work does take up a bloody lot of your life. A calculated risk in the interest of a job you’ll love might just be a risk worth taking.

If the monotony of your corporate job has been getting you down, a fast-paced and dynamic startup role might be the choice for you. 

Not sure you can make the switch? Here are some common concerns, and reasons why transitioning  from the corporate world to a tech startup is easier than you think: 

  1. Credibility:

Modern industries are always changing. It’s easy to feel at odds when you’re competing for jobs against people with lots more experience in the field. Tech, specifically, is continuously, and quickly evolving; giving-way to new products, consumer trends, and problems that call on different skill-sets than some more traditional fields.

The worst mistake you can make is underestimating the value of your own experiences. A sales background is invaluable to any business, but many early-stage companies don’t understand the science or art. Consider your own style and strengths to target the startups most in need of your talents. 

Sector-specific knowledge can play to your advantage, too. For example, if you understand how traditional finance works, you can help a startup incite disruption in London’s booming Fintech sector.

Don’t let a lack of technical chops deter you; you’d be surprised at how adaptable your background is, and how far your passion and grit can take you. Capitalize on your strengths, and follow your bliss to engage in a meaningful side project. Your extra efforts will spotlight you as an enthusiastic do-er.

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With the multitude of online learning options, including a whopping 99 venture-backed education startups, you can find a class on almost any topic these days. From fashion design to the inner workings of Einstein to early New England poetry, the skill levels and content density you’re looking for are certainly out there. This too is true for some of today’s most sought-after skills: web development, web design, and technical marketing. The difference being, these 21st century skills are often sought after by working professionals — people who hope to use their freshly minted skills immediately in their current position or the job they’re aspiring to. They need not know how to do something, but have experience actually doing that something. That however, as you might have guessed, is more complicated that an 8 week pre-recorded class. Why? Sometimes you just get stuck.

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Startup Institute Chicago Spring cohort

Startup Institute really is an ever growing family of individuals who are looking to challenge themselves and push themselves beyond their limits. Current students, alumni, and staff end up sharing a special bond. And like a family we all support each other (and we also bicker sometimes. It’s a family).

Three cohorts go through the Startup Institute experience a year. I went through the Spring cohort in Chicago. Now that summer has arrived another Startup Institute cohort’s time is coming to an end (or is it just the beginning?), which means it’s time to show off these talented individuals at the Startup Institute TalentExpo.

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Being a good startup employee requires a wide variety of skills and qualities. How do you know if you’re the right fit? Even before you dive into startup culture, you may find that your behavior in everyday life is pointing towards a startup role. If you’ve found yourself in these 7 situations, what are you waiting for? You’ll thrive at a startup!

1. You can put yourself in someone else’s shoes

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During the last Super Bowl, your girlfriend asked you to explain football to her. Oh man, that’s a tough one. But you didn’t throw some advanced lingo at her or get frustrated and tell her not to worry about it. You broke it down, explained it from a beginner’s point of view, and satisfied her curiosity without missing the first touchdown. Now that’s a skill. Plus, you just scored someone else to go to the game with.

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Cultivating a strong network is critical when it comes to building a successful, fulfilling career. Things move quickly in the digital age, today’s most coveted skillset may be obsolete tomorrow. Even if you manage to stay relevant by continuing to develop your skills and adapting your career plans as you progress, you will fail if you lack a network. As co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman states in his book, The Startup of You, “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing the game solo, you’ll always lose out to a team.”

For many, alumni networks can be the most valuable and underutilized networks we have. Your shared experience of attending the same the educational institution is powerful thread that ties you to thousands of professional contacts. At Startup Institute, we are building a powerful network of innovators, technologists, and startup enthusiasts— a network of individuals committed to helping one another navigate through (the sometimes turbulent waters of) their career. Making it easy for our alumni to connect and build relationships with one another is extremely important which is why we offer them EverTrue.

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