Liberal arts educated computer science college grad to associate software engineer at $45.2M VC funded startup Gemvara in 8 weeks

By David Zabner In May, I graduated from Cornell College; a double major in Biochemistry and Computer Science. While I received a quality liberal arts education, I wasn’t equipped with many skills that would make a strong job candidate. After talking to friends and mentors, I realized that neither academia nor corporate america would fit me. Wanting an exciting and challenging work environment, I began to learn about startup culture, and quickly realized that the fast-paced and autonomous world of startups would fit me like a glove. I applied to startups in Chicago, Boston and San Francisco, but rarely got so much as a response to my resume.

As I searched for startups in Boston, Startup Institute kept popping-up at the top of my google search results, and I decided to look into it. Nothing suggested a pyramid scheme, so I applied, got in, packed my bags and moved from Iowa to Boston. To be honest, that time was more stress inducing than the picture I just painted. Startup Institute asked me to build a website as part of my interview. Having no web development experience, I rose to the challenge and figured it out. I decided to apply days before the deadline and was accepted one week before the program started—figuring out a place to live in a city I’d never visited was another challenge.

I made it work. Startup Institute has taught me a ton about web development and startup culture. The most useful aspect is the mentoring and network, which I took full advantage of. I got my job from Gemvara, who I met at one of the partner fairs. I got really excited when they told me about their business model and even more when they talked about the rendering they do to create virtual jewelry. I saw, a really innovative concept changing a 4,000 year old business model. I also saw that they still have a lot more that they can do and I am super excited to be on a team that is renovating an 80 billion dollar industry.

Watch David talk about his Startup Institute experience:


Apply by our deadline of October 6th to join us in Boston, New York, or Chicago. The program runs from 10/21 to 12/18.