How to Crush it at Startup Institute

Eight weeks ago, I was a wreck. New York City had chewed me up and spit me out. I quit my job, had no direction, and felt totally lost. A few days from now, I will tell a room full of head hunters at Microsoft HQ about how the most notorious bank robber in the history of our country inspires me as a digital marketer. What is even more wild is that, in just a few short months, you could be doing something similar. Hopefully, like me, you will be employed, relaxed, and giddy to tell your story at Talent Expo. 

I am a young professional from Columbus, Ohio who never imagined working in tech. Next week, I will begin my career in market development at one of the hottest startups in Manhattan, simply because I squeezed every drop of juice out of this program. Below are five tips to help you do the same.

Remember why you are here.

Startup Institute is designed to be a program for professional advancement. “PROFESSIONAL” implies a relatively high level of commitment and respect for yourself and the people around you. In other words, treat this program the way you would treat your next job. Come to Startup Institute every day, on time, with an attitude to learn and improve. Woody Allen said, “80 percent of life is showing up.”

"ADVANCEMENT” means “to develop and grow.” Startup Institute will NOT pull a metaphorical rabbit out of a hat for you. If you are under the impression that job offers are just going to pour in by simply enrolling in the program, you are going to be disappointed. But, if you have some experience, and want to make the effort to get to the next level, this community and curriculum will put you in the driver’s seat to create your own opportunities.

Invest in your cohort!

The people around you may seem…odd or unusual. You may be a hot-shot marketer who has never talked to a developer or you may be a creative designer who has never considered eating with a former real estate agent. However, these people have become some of my dearest friends, and I have known them for less than eight weeks. Do not make the mistake of limiting yourself to only those in your skills track. I cannot promise you much, but I guarantee that at some point over your time in the program you will become overwhelmed and need a support system. The Tent is here for you. Also, remember that the instructors are part of your cohort as well. Their job is to help you, and they are beyond qualified professionals who have achieved success in their own right. Check your ego at the door and listen to their advice. 

Cast a wide net.

You probably have a vision of what you want your next job title to be or perhaps even the name of a few companies to which you would like to apply. That is admirable. However, be careful not to bottleneck your opportunities—many may surprise you. The most insightful “networking” coffee chat I had was with an alumnus who had been in the web development track but recently took a job in sales. He could not be happier. So, while you may think you know exactly what and where you want to be, I simply implore you to consider all the options. Who knows… you might just snag your dream job by accident.

Trust the process and your secret sauce.

Startup Institute has an amazing way of dragging participants out of their comfort zones. We often refer to the experience here as “drinking from a fire hose.” However, if you have a little faith and trust the process there is a method to the madness. Remember, you were CHOSEN for this program because Startup Institute saw something special in you. This period will be one of immense growth—both personally and professionally. Find your secret sauce and let it guide you.

Keep climbing.

At some level, we all know what we need to do to get where we want. We just are not all willing to do it. Searching for jobs is scary. Networking is scary. You probably feel more vulnerable now than at any other point in your life. Climb. Put your head down and climb. This city moves fast. Your mountain may seem steep and treacherous, but your peak of opportunity might just be a few feet away.

I am excited for you. Today, you start your climb. While I may not know you or your mountain, we are already connected in a way that you will soon understand. If you can remember why you are here, invest in your cohort, cast a wide net, trust the process, and keep climbing... your opportunity will find you.