As an instructor at RampUp‘s Intro to Ruby class– Startup Institute’s part-time web development course– there are many times when a student would ask me “Why would I need to learn coding in another language besides Ruby? Isn’t it the best? Especially with Ruby on Rails?” Being a Ruby-ist, my initial response would be “HELL, YES! Ruby’s the best!” but before this can come out of my mouth; my conscience stops me. Instead, I give them the handyman analogy:
When I graduated from Startup Institute Chicago, I had two problems that loomed over me in my job search:
- I didn’t know what type of marketer I wanted to be.
- I didn’t have a large portfolio of work.
Startup Institute gave me a great background in the different marketing functions; from email marketing, to content strategy, PPC campaigns and social media. I even had the opportunity to work with two different partner companies and add that work to my resume and portfolio. However when I graduated, I realized that I had enjoyed most functions equally and as a career switcher, after just eight weeks of marketing immersives, I didn’t have a large body of work to show for my abilities.
Then I discovered the beauty that is freelance marketing.
Freelancing, or doing part-time contract work for multiple clients, is the perfect way to not only get experience and build your business portfolio but– more importantly– to give you a taste of the different types of opportunities in your field. Contract work is a fantastic way to figure out what you want to do and what type of company you would like to join (check out oDesk and Elance for help finding freelance work).
However, if you’re someone like me who has always had a structured, full-time gig, freelance marketing has it’s own set of unique challenges. It requires a totally different mindset and skill set. Here are some of the lessons I learned the hard way from my time as a contractor in the Chicago startup scene:
Whether you’re taking UX design courses, learning rails, or are an aspiring innovator trying to ramp up your knowledge of the tech scene, tech podcasts can be an excellent way to enhance your startup education.
Fledgling entrepreneurs sharing their rocky journeys and seasoned heavyweights imparting their advice– there’s plenty of material available offering inside insight and nuggets of information.
Here is a selection of five best tech podcasts in particular that you can listen to along with selected episodes that show the best of their work:
What is a scaleup?
Just when we’ve finally wrapped our heads around the concept of a ‘startup company’ (and all the terminology that goes along with it), there’s a new kid in town that’s causing a stir in the business and entrepreneurship community: the scaleup company.
‘Scaleup’ is a term first made popular by leading entrepreneur and TEDx speaker, Sherry Coutu, and Frank Nouyrigat, co-founder of Startup Weekend. Scaleup companies are predicted to represent the next wave of the ‘Startup Revolution,’ so to be in-the-know you need to know what they are, and how they differ from startups.
You lean over and reluctantly check the time on your phone. 11:07pm. While you wish your Netflix marathon could last forever, the more logical you inside your head is saying it’s probably time for bed. After all, you have that status meeting at 9am tomorrow, and you’re fully expected to feign interest and participate beyond merely being present with eyes held open. You click off the TV, haul yourself up from the nurturing embrace of your couch, and let out a loud sigh dripping with exasperation and despair.
Have you ever felt like this? I have, and it sucks. Yet, far too many of us put up with it for years– complacent, believing that this feeling is normal. “It’s just how life is,” we convince ourselves. Wrong. Nope. No way.
I’m going to talk about some of the key signs suggesting you’re in desperate need of a new career. And I’m not talking just about a job change, where perhaps you’ve grown annoyed by the people you work with or the less-than-fantastic pay and decide to hop over to another company in your industry. No. I’m talking about a complete career overhaul – a new field, a new challenge. A new you. You with me? If you’re asking yourself “should I quit my job,” consider if these indicators describe you right now:
When you ask someone how they got a job at a startup, they’ll most likely say “oh I just knew someone there and next day I got an interview.” That’s probably the most frustrating explanation you could hear when you are on the job hunt. You ask yourself– how does that person have a job and I don’t?
From my experience, networking is key. Unfortunately, networking has such a bad reputation. Many people fear doing it or have no idea what it means. In my opinion, it is just a fancy word to to describe asking people questions and creating long lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Well that sounds exhausting, but professional networking is the most beneficial tactic you can employ to not only advance your career but also help others.
Personally, I’ve applied to more than 200 jobs online, but the jobs I’ve gotten were landed solely through networking. Scary, I know. Here’s the thing though– it wasn’t easy. It took a lot of trial and error to learn how to “master” networking. Need help finding a job? Check out my top tips for career networking:
This one goes out to our students and alumni, whose ambitions and creativity inspire us everyday. No matter how established you are, no matter how successful you’ve been in your career, it’s easy to get discouraged when the work you produce doesn’t match up with your perception of what is should, or could be. We hope that Ira Glass‘ (This American Life) musings on grit and the gap between good taste and good work will inspire you to fight your way through.
What is biotechnology? Biotechnology– or “biotech,” as it is more commonly called in the high-growth space, has started to become a bit of a buzzword, populating conversations all over the world: from the workplace to biotech news. But what exactly is it?
In its simplest form, biotechnology is technology based on biology. But really it’s so much more than that.
The biotechnology industry is dedicated to improving our beautiful planet, and the lives of the people living on it. This is accomplished by harnessing the living systems and organisms found in nature.
Think back to four years ago on that autumn day when you had just moved into your dorm room. You were excited to meet your roommate and had already heard buzz about the big party planned for that night, while your parents kept nagging you about keeping in touch. Seems just like yesterday right? Fast forward and now you’re a college senior. Graduation is quickly approaching and the question, “what’s next?” is being fired at you from all sides.
Searching for a potential job after graduation can be scary. Up until now, you’ve put in hours studying at the library (or procrastinating on Netflix?). You’re a member of multiple organizations on campus, and perhaps you’ve even got a couple of internships under your belt. Yet, you worry it’s not enough. You try to find a job online and let out a sigh of disappointment when you click on the link to the description of your dream-entry-level job, only to see that your credentials don’t match up to the experience required. What in the world is SEO? Or HTML & CSS? It now starts to feel that your class lectures just weren’t enough and your office assistant position is worthless on your resume. So what do you do now? One solution is to join a startup:
Salespeople tend to be doers. Usually, we’d rather get out there, sell, learn from the market, and go from there. We don’t tend to be particularly academic about our trade. I didn’t think to read a book on sales for years; I was too busy doing the thing to learn about how to do the thing better. But when I did, it was the single most transformative event in my sales career, and literally turned my business around (story below).
To spread that wealth, we’ve collected the top sales book recommendations from our favorite sales-folk in Boston, Chicago, and New York. Technically, some of them aren’t even sales books, but they can have massive impacts on how you talk with your customers and close more business (hint: mine’s one of them).
Here are our top nine (plus one bonus) recommendations for the modern high-growth salesperson: