As part of my first foray into startup culture at Georgetown, I hit up the “Careers in Startups” panel hosted by StartupHoyas. Professor Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, moderated a group of six entrepreneurs which included five Georgetown alumni.
- Matt Sturm, Illustria Designs
- A quality design agency that runs with a Netflix-like subscription model.
- Jordan Dansky, MSB’13, Quarter for Your Crisis
- A movement that seeks to address the quarter-life crisis in Millennials through intentional living and community building.
- Jesse Cushman, MBA’14, StreetShares
- A marketplace that connects small businesses and investors.
- Ben Meirowitz, MBA’15, Morningstar
- An investment research group with an emphasis on innovation.
- Dominique Taylor, MSB’00, EverFi
- A digital tool that brings industry leaders and programs to teach necessary life skills and integrate them in school curriculums.
- Maxim Wheatley, COL’13, LifeFuels
- A nutrition and hydration management company that created a nutrient dispensing and monitoring water bottle.
Here’s what you missed:
With any startup, there’s a real threat of going under. Meirowitz described it as “scary as hell – there’s no way around it, but it’s also scary not to do it.” He noted that some people are energized by risk, while others fall flat. Dansky echoed his sentiments and felt she had no other option but to take the risk.
Wheatley recommended joining a more established startup that has finished its series A or B funding.
However, it’s not all long days and small paychecks. Startups often succeed, and when they do, “you will be compensated for your risk” and “share in the upside,” according to Cushman. As the same time, if the startup fails, remember that you have a great degree and plenty of valuable experience to fall back on.
Tips for Securing the Right Gig
Over and over again, the panelists cited networking as the number one tool to landing a startup internship or job. Though it might be uncomfortable, Meirowitz reminded the crowd that it’s how everyone entered the startup scene. Don’t be afraid to cold call, email, or send a message through LinkedIn.
Wheatley suggested looking through [CrunchBase.com] and [AngelList.com], crowdfunding platforms for startups, to vet potential companies. Look out for how much money has been raised, the type of investors, and the background of the founders. Somewhat counterintuitively, Cushman explained that a perfect management team is more important than having a game-changing idea.
StartupHoyas.com is a great resource for new opportunities. Different internships are posted by local startups throughout the year. Don’t be deterred by low wages or free work – StartupHoyas offers monetary subsidies for student internships during the summer to help with living expenses.
In interviews, make sure to emphasize your versatility and adaptability. Startups offer a lot of responsibility and you need to balance all your work.
Also, with preregistration around the corner, consider taking a computer science course. Both Taylor and Meirowitz wish they were at least familiar with coding and development.
I’ll leave you with this: startup culture is exciting, but also synonymous with hard work. Taylor felt the work was difficult and left her “pushed and challenged daily,” but that it allowed her “to grow personally and professionally.” In fact, everyone on the panel spoke about discovering their passions and finding meaning in their work.
Good luck with the internship hunt!