Ask an Alum: The Elusive Job Hunt

By Dan MacLeod

[Dan is a Startup Institute Boston Alum]

Prior to completing the Startup Institute Boston program this summer, I was a senior at Tufts University. I majored in Psychology and minored in English, but knew I wanted to go in to marketing (Tufts doesn’t have a marketing major). My passions are alternative energy and green cars (check out Autoblog Green for great info!), so I figured I would work at a marketing firm for a few years to gain experience, and then transition over to the green automotive industry.

Watch Here: For resume advice, I’ve always found Dom Mazzetti to be spot on


Well, funny thing about wanting a job to gain experience: in order to get that job, you need experience too. Here I was, interviewing at marketing firms straight out of school, and I got passed over multiple times in favor of people with years of experience or people already in the company.

Before I start complaining too much, this didn’t come as a surprise to me; Most well-known marketing firms only hire college grads from their intern pools, and the marketing firm where I interned, 451 Marketing, wasn’t hiring. However, I did learn that I like the feel of small offices more than large, and I like fast-paced environments. Enter the Startup Institute Boston.

Startup Institute Boston

The Startup Institute Boston definitely snuck up on me. And I mean really snuck up; I applied on May 15th, the last possible day to submit an application, in the middle of my college Senior Week. I can’t say I was in the best mental shape that day, but somehow Shaun, John, and Aaron decided to give me an interview, which eventually lead to my enrollment.

My class acted as the guinea pigs of SIB. Nothing made that fact clearer than the general mindset in the first week of class, when we were given instructions on how to draw an owl:

Image 2 : Complete instructions to draw an owl


While classes at the Startup Institute were well run and informative, the best part was networking with both the students in the program and the professionals who came in to teach the classes. Never in my life have I created so many strong connections so quickly, and following up with one of the professors from the Technical Marketing Track is actually how I landed a job. Before I get too far ahead of myself, here are the most important things I came out of Startup School with:

  1. A much greater understanding of marketing as a whole, and experience applying those marketing skills
  2. Cofounding a collaborative marketing blog called GrowthNinja (positioning ourselves as the new, edgy thought leaders in the startup world)
  3. A network of amazingly energetic and talented young entrepreneurs (yeah I’m shameless… our class was awesome!)
  4.  A network of professional contacts
  5. A J.O.B.

I never would have landed my first job without connecting with Lora Kratchounova, principal of Scratch Marketing + Media, when she taught a branding and positioning class for the SIB Marketing Track.

The “real” world after Startup Institute

August 1st marked our last official day of the Startup Institute. August 2nd marked the first official day of my job as a Marketing Associate at Scratch Marketing+Media. As the 9th member of the team, my responsibilities started on day one. After a solid 30 second (ok, maybe one minute) orientation session, I dove right in to the work, and have been going full speed ever since. Over the past two weeks I’ve written:

  • 7 blog posts for clients
  • 1 white paper
  •  A combined total of 31 pages and 8000+ words

So yes, it’s been busy. And amazing. Only at such a small company would I enjoy real responsibility within my first official day, and only at a small company can I yell out a question from my office and get a response from anyone in the company.

Scratch shares many similarities with a startup, and I can’t wait to both improve my writing and continue to learn as I pick up other responsibilities. The Startup Institute gave me the opportunity to meet Lora as well as the skills needed to have an immediate impact at the firm. I can’t wait to see what the future holds!