4 Strategies to Immerse Yourself into the Boston Startup Scene

burst bubble(Note: This post originally was written for the BostInnovation blog and re-posted here as part of my blogging portfolio.)

From the outside looking in, you may think getting a job at a startup is like getting a job at any other company – Starbucks, Staples, Macy’s, etc. I hate to burst that belief, but it’s a bit tougher than just filling out an application, having a formal interview, and hoping to get chosen among the multitude of applicants.

Getting into the start up scene is about who you know and how much you are willing to give to make a company succeed. Being in Boston adds another unique layer to this; we are a very tight-knit community. Although Boston is a relatively big city and it may seem like a large pool of companies and candidates, we all talk. Why? Because we all are on social media or go to events regularly!

Coming from a small town in Connecticut myself, I had to learn the hard way that getting involved in the startup scene in Boston was no easy task. However, it was the best journey I’ve ever been on. Being here a year and a half now, I want to share with you how you can go about getting a job in an awesome start up in Boston without wasting time.

1. Network – work the scene

networkign bostonDue to our tight-knit community, we all tend to navigate towards the same type of events. I find myself saying “Long time no see!” in a sarcastic manner to many people who attend the same events as I do. We all know the right events to go to, whether a casual beer and networking event or a knowledge-based event. Start attending events, talking to various people about the events they attend, look for patterns, and deepen your network.

This will allow you to become recognized in the area and allow you to learn from this group and get the ‘in’ on potential job openings.

2. Get involved on social media

Let’s face it – Boston is full of nerds. It is also full of social media enthusiasts – and we’re a bit proud of it.  I highly suggest you create Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even YouTube accounts and start interacting with influencers in Boston.

You can find these influencers by noticing how many followers they have, how much they engage with others and by catching them in person at events. By following conversations and talking with other people in Boston, you will build up recognition of your skills and interests.

3. Create your own personal brand

personal brandingJust like any consumer brand, it is important to distinguish yourself in the market. Making yourself both memorable and visible is crucial today. Chances are, if you are being interviewed for a job, the employer is Googling you to view your personal brand and digital footprint.

I highly recommend starting a personal website or blog that demonstrates what you are interested in, your past experience, and anything else career-related you want others to see.

For me, I blogged about digital marketing, posted videos on how to brand yourself online, and posted my video resume. On top of that, build out social sites like Twitter and LinkedIn demonstrating the same information on your site to create consistency.

People will come to expect certain content from you and will know where to get it. This is crucial when you are on the job hunt. Being visible and helpful online can go a long way.

4. Be yourself

It is important to first and foremost act like the same person whether online or in person. Your personal brand online should reflect who you really are. If you are a fun, bubbly person, write in a conversational, easy-going tone. That way, no matter which way a person is communicating with you, they know it is truly you.

At the end of the day, it is who and what you know that can get you into the Boston startup scene. Networking properly and demonstrating your expertise both online and offline are critical to getting seen and remembered by potential employers.

Most of us at BostInnovation have done these above four things to get jobs at really awesome companies and involved with this blog. Ask any of us, it was more than worth it!

What to Expect When Working for a Start-up Company

When you think of a start-up company, what words come to mind? Small team? Long hours? Hard work? High risk?

It was about a year ago that I came in contact with the CEO of the start-up I now work for, Backupify. I had just graduated college and was on the job hunt but had not really considered working for a start-up yet. College taught me to work for a stable, corporate job where I’d just be a number and have accept that.

I favored otherwise.

I knew a corporation job wasn’t for me (I had had a previous internship at one) but was still unsure exactly what company type I wanted to work for, I just knew I wanted it to be something different and exciting.

Upon having talks with Rob May, our CEO, and other employees, I saw a great fit between the company and I before I was even hired. Nine months later, I’m still here. We’ve gone through a Series A funding, have had tons of press releases and affiliated news coverage as well as grown our user base 400%.

It’s been quite the journey in such a short amount of time but it has been better than I could have expected.

Considering working for a start-up in the near future? Here’s what to expect:

1. Yes, you will work long hours. This isn’t the typical 9-5 job you would get elsewhere. It’s a ‘get here when you need to and leave once you’re done with your stuff’ kind of job. That may sound vague, but basically go in as early (or as late) as you desire – as long as that’s acceptable – and stay until your pressing projects are done (even if that means 7 or 8 p.m.). Usually since you’re in a small team, your projects are important and impactful for the company’s future so your work will usually be rewarding and exciting to work on.

2. Your team will be small – at least to start. The nature of a startup insues that you will be working in a tight-knit, small team. I find this to be a great opportunity for many reasons. First, you get to know everyone and their experiences and talents very well. Second, you get to learn what projects they are working on and ways you can help each other accomplish things. This is a great team building skill. Second, if you’re in the small, core team of a start-up like I was, you can see the company through it’s exciting growth but still feel very connected to the core of the business.

3. You may change direction – and fast. Start-ups are all about learning. Since you may be in an industry sector that is new, you need to learn who your target market is, what marketing channels resonate with them, what features are needed to satisfy them – and then you may alter who your target market is – and then all of this changes. Change, at least for me, is exciting. It is everyone’s responsibility to view the company in a strategic manner and give input if you think you’re moving off course or targeting the wrong people. This direction needs to be caught and remedied in time so you can get on the right track without wasting time or money.

4. Be ready to be your own boss. Especially if your company is really small, you’ll find that many times, there just aren’t enough resources to manage everyone. At times, you will need to set your own direction. This involves defining the important projects you will finish every quarter, attending the right events to get the word out, creating new projects and goals as time goes on, as well as evaluating your own work to determine what does and doesn’t work. This can be a great experience for you if you are organized, driven and confident in your work. It is a time where you can prove to yourself and your colleagues that you are capable of working independently when needed – and succeeding.

5. You’re going to have fun. With hard work and long hours comes some cool rewards. Whether it’s a monthly happy hour with the team, breaking out beers on a Friday afternoon, or traveling with the company to conferences, those are perks you may not get at a larger company. The friendships you’ll develop with your co-workers through working closely with them for so long can make work so much better and personable. At Backupify, we make a point to have about one happy hour a month and bring out some beverages of choice on Fridays to keep the team happy and rewarded for the week and month’s hard work.

6. Expect to take on many roles. Having a small team means there is still a ton to do but only a few people to do it. Your job title may be Customer Sales Specialist, which sounds very refined, but you may find yourself doing jobs including social media management, customer support, account management, and even office management if needed. This is a great opportunity to expend your skill set and/or volunteer for projects for which you’d love to contribute. I find myself involved in new projects every week but this keeps it exciting and helps diversify my skill sets.

There are at least another ten items I can think of to add to this list but the point of this post is that start-ups can be a lot of work but they also can be the most exciting companies you’ll work at and you’ll probably learn more than you would anywhere else.

I embrace the start-up life everyday. If you work at a startup, what are some of the best things you enjoy and worst things you’ve experienced? If you don’t work for one, do you think it’s for you?