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Second Edition | 2016

HOW TO FIND YOUR


FIRST JOB AFTER
COLLEGE (AND LOVE IT)

Your time is limited, so dont waste it living


someone elses life... Have the courage to follow
your heart and intuition. They somehow
already know what you truly want to become.
Everything else is secondary.
Steve Jobs

Lets Get You to A Job You Love

As a young person beginning your career, the possibilities are endless. Its an exciting time, but it can also be
stressful.

What do I want to do? What am I qualified to do? Where can I be most impactful? What do my family and
friends think I should be doing? How do I begin?

Chances are, you also face pressures to pay-off student loans. According to the Wall Street Journal, the
class of 2015 had the highest-ever levels of student loan debt; the average graduate owing $35,000, putting
student loan debt in the US at 300% what it was in 2003. It doesnt bode well that nearly half of those who
graduated in 2013 and 2014 are underemployed or working in jobs that dont require a college degree
(Accentures 2015 US College Graduate Employment Survey).

So, how do you sift through the pressures and uncertainties to find your way to a job you love? A job with real
career potential?

Finding the right jobnot the good-enough-for-now jobmeans finding a role that builds on your talents,
aligns with your values, and sets you up for long-term success.

The trick to landing a job you love is figuring out what you truly want. Once you get clear on this, it will
become easier to leverage your passions and strengths to a meaningful role.

Passion + Strengths + People = Job Love

The ultimate job love equation means learning how to frame your strengths to fit an opportunity and the
ultimate job love equation means learning how to frame your strengths to fit an opportunity that aligns with
your values or priorities and allows you to work with and learn from like-minded individuals. You need to
be a magnet for the things you want in lifeattracting people and opportunities to you through a powerful
personal brand.

Weve designed this guide to help you do this. Inside, youll find resources to help you explore your limitless
potential, and the tools you need to go after your dreams. Dont settle. This is your life.
Now, lets get you to a job you love.

Table of Contents

6 Myths About Job Hunting After Graduation



FIND THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY

6
8
9
10

12
13
15
16
17
18

Quiz: Designing Your Career



Your Alumni Network and Beyond

Corporate or Startup: Which is a Better Start for Your Career?

Startup Institute Alumni Story: Patrick Adduci

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Tips for Your Rsum and LinkedIn Profile

Position Your Degree for the 21st Century Job Market

Highlighting Your Passions for a Culture Fit

How to Supercharge Your Personal Brand

The Agile Grads Guide to Continued Education

Startup Institute Alumni Story: Varad Karmarkar

26


SEAL THE DEAL

How to Crush it in the Interview

Interviewing the Company thats Interviewing You

What are Hiring Managers Really Looking For?

Getting Back Up When You Get Knocked Down

Startup Institute Alumni Story: Kylie Hosken

27

Everything You Should and Shouldnt Do Before Responding to A Job Offer

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21
22
25

6 Myths About Job Hunting After Graduation

Myth #1: All jobs available are posted on job boards.


According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of job opportunities are found through
networking, not job boards, and many companies never post on job boards at all. So, get off of
Indeed.com and start your search on LinkedIn and Eventbrite, instead. Check page 8 for our top
networking tips.
Myth #2: Its all about your technical skills.
92% of company executives agree that culture skills (or soft skills) are at least important as than
technical skills. This guide will tell you what hiring managers are really looking for, and how you can
showcase your culture skills.
Myth #3: When you interview, the company is in the power seat.
Interviewing is a two-way street. You should be screening the companies you interview with.
Thoughtful questioning demonstrates your interest, curiosity, and ability to think critically, and is
crucial to making a good impression. We outline some questions that youll want to ask on page 21.

Myth #4: A role at a big-name company will beef-up my rsum.
While its true that a well-known name may attract initial notice, these entry-level roles may offer you
limited responsibility. A role at a quickly growing company will often mean more opportunity to make
an impact and insight into many parts of the business. Your diverse experiences and ability to own
projects may be more meaningful to many future employers. Turn to page 9 to consider the pros
and cons of small and large companies.

Myth #5: I cant negotiate my entry-level salary.
With some jobs, this may be true. But most employers do leave room in their offers for negotiation
even for entry-level candidates. Negotiating your offer shows that you are discriminating about
where you work, and demonstrates business acumenespecially for aspiring salespeople. If you
do plan to negotiate, be sure to do your homework. Research what salary other people in this role
make and manage all negotiations over email so that you can craft a tactful response and get a
second opinion before clicking send.
Myth #6: If I dont know what to do after college, I should go to graduate school.
Advanced degrees require major investments of time, money, and energy. Ask yourself: Am I going
to graduate school for a purposeful reason or am I falling into it to get away from other things? If
youre considering a grad program simply because you dont know what else to do, it is likely to be a
waste of resources. If additional schooling might in fact be a stepping stone to your desired career
path, ask yourself if a degree program is necessary or if there are other training options available to
you. Grad school should be used as a means to a well-researched end.

Step 1.
FIND THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY

Take The Quiz: Designing Your Career

In order to find your dream job, you first need to know what you want. For some, the opportunity
to develop professional skills is the key to feeling engaged at work. Others may value a companys
mission, or a culture that jives with their personality. Understanding what inspires you will help you
to set priorities in your job search and design your career path. Take this quiz, then read on for tips
and tricks to find the perfect fit.
Part 1: Rank the statements below, in order, from 1 (top priority) to 9 (last priority). Write your
answers in the gray box on the right.
Rank 1-9 Ignore the As, Bs, and Cs until page 5

Rank 1-9

I want to be an expert in my field.

I want to contribute to the greater good.

I want to have the opportunity to build and develop my skills.

I want to be a part of a team that works hard and plays hard.

I want to genuinely care about my co-workers and feel supported.

I want to work on something that I am passionate about.

I want to help create a new, impressive product.

I want to collaborate with a team and work in groups.

I want to engage in creative problem expression and problem-solving.

Quiz Results: Designing Your Life

Part 2: Now, look at the right hand column on the previous page and add up the total points for
each gray letter (A, B or C).
Example:

10

21

14

Which letter scored the lowest (i.e. had the highest priority)?

A
B
C

PEOPLE PERSON
You derive inspiration from your environment, and you can only love your job if you sincerely
enjoy the people who you work with. Collaborating with a cohesive team, sharing office laughs,
and maybe even cracking open some beers on a Friday at five sounds like a dream.

For you, job love is first and foremost about culture fit. A toxic, or simply unengaging office
environment is likely to make or break your experience, so talk to a number of employees at
the company. Consider asking questions about team dynamics, the companys personality,
and if cowork- ers spend time together outside of the office.

PA S S I O N AT E
Whether youre a fitness fanatic who wants to work on a sports-related product, a differencemaker who wants to save the world, or youre just excited to have a hand in building The Next
Big Thing, youre most energized by a companys mission.

You undoubtedly have plenty of skills that you want to develop as a professional, but if you
arent inspired by the industry or product that you are hustling for, youre never going to enjoy
what you do. Focus your job search on getting your foot in the door in the right industrythe
specifics of your role and company culture are secondary.

AMBITIOUS
Youre a goal-driven person, most inspired by opportunities that help you to grow and develop
your strengths. You enjoy exercising and expanding on your skills, and love being looked to as
a rockstar.

As you think about taking the first steps in your career, the responsibilities, challenges, and
opportunities of a role should be your first consideration. Be clear on the top skills that
you want to develop and emphasize these as you interview. Make sure your supervisor
understands these goals and is willing to give you the space you need to flex those muscles.

Your Alumni Network And Beyond

Your network is the single most powerful tool you can leverage in a job search. Networking is a
learned skill that requires practice, persistence, and dedication. Use this checklist to branch out
beyond your alumni network and get your foot in the door with exciting new communities:
Start with your alumni groups:
As you focus on building a professional network, dont discount the worth of the connections you
already have. Join your universitys alumni group on LinkedIn, and make sure youre on the alumni
email list or Facebook group in your city. Go out and meet fellow alumni (beyond your graduating
class) who are already making it in the real world.

Find the people doing the job you want:
When you meet someone in an interesting role, offer to buy them a coffee in exchange for career
advice. After your meeting, ask if they can connect you with anyone doing similarly interesting work.

Know where to go:
Check Meetup and Eventbrite to find professional networking events and skills meetups near you.
When you meet someone cool, ask them what other events they like, and then go to those, too.
Hackathons like Protohack and Startup Weekend are great for meeting people while trying on
different roles and team dynamics.

Bring a wingman:
Nervous to go to an event where you wont know anyone? Try working the room with a buddy. You
can help one another to identify key connections.

Ask more than you answer:
Its no secret that people love to talk about themselves. Show genuine interest by focusing the
conversation on the other person and their work, rather than on yourself. Have a few go-to questions
ready in your back-pocket, such as What do you like most about what you do? or What projects are you
working on now?

Pitch yourself:
Know your 30-second pitch so that, when it does come time to talk about yourself, you can help
people help you. Share your strengths and passions. If you know what type of role youre looking for,
say so. This way, your connection will have you in mind if a relevant opportunity comes up.

Always follow-up:
Collect business cards so you can follow-up the next day. In your email or LinkedIn invite, reference
something you discussed to reaffirm your interest (and to help them remember who you are). Keep it
brief, and most importantly, always ask how you can help them.

Dont take it personally:
If you dont hear back right away, dont jump to conclusions. Wait a week, and ping them again. A
good rule of thumb is three follow-ups. If you still havent heard from them, dont take offenseits
more than likely that theyre just busy.
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Corporate or Startup: Which Is A Better Start For Your Career?

Where should you start your career as a young professional? When it comes to your career, the
important thing to remember is: there are no right answers.

As you consider the options, the best you can do is to experiment, push your boundaries, and then
reflect to inform your next move. The size and structure of your workplace will play a large role in
determining work culture, the opportunities available to you, and the rate and direction in which you
grow. Ask yourself these questions to determine if a corporate or startup environment will be right
for you:

Do you need structured training to learn?
Corporate work has established procedures and structures. Youre likely to go through a formal
onboarding process, and there are likely to be periodic company trainings available to you.
Generally speaking, startups dont have the resources and training programs that larger companies
do, but the high levels of responsibility and creative freedom at younger companies can offer an
education that is more immersive and self-directed than corporate professional development.
Are you the self-starter type or do you learn better through formal training? If you prefer structure,
a corporate environment would be more likely to support your learning needs, while comfort and
confidence with a trial-and-error approach is critical to success at an early-stage company.

Does a blank slate excite you?
Coming into a company at the ground-floor, youll have a hand in shaping company culture,
operations, and developing the product from scratch. Youre likely to work closely with company
executives and every choice you make will have some degree of impact.
While building company operations can be an exciting creative opportunity, a lot of growing pains
come along with this. As a recent graduate moving into the corporate world, your likely to take on a
more typical entry-level role. Working for a mature company, youll be able to focus more energy on
growing in your individual job function, and less on building the plane mid-flight.

Can you work under ambiguity?
Early-stage companies are constantly in flux. Whether youre scaling quickly or pivoting in search of
greater success, startup employees need to expect the unexpected. Its up to you to manage the
chaos and work through problems with limited time, information, and resources. Larger companies,
on the other hand, tend to have more stable infrastructure and procedures in place.

What are your career goals?
Larger companies often have siloed departments and established career paths. You always have
the opportunity to move around and change direction, but your specific role at any point will be very
focused.
Alternatively, employees at startups often have to juggle a number of diverse responsibilities while
working closely with teammates of all disciplines. If youre interested in getting your hands dirty and
exploring all aspects of the business, youll thrive in the a growing company.

Patrick Adduci
S O F T W A R E E N G I N E E R AT M AV R C K

What did you study in college?


I started out in Lehighs business school, studying finance and economics. After my sophomore year, I
decided that I wanted a stronger technical background, so I switched out of the business school into math
and economicsa degree that would leave my options open to a variety of fields.

What were your priorities at the time you were graduating?
At the beginning of my senior year, I was still deciding what field to target. After considering different options,
I decided software engineering would be the best choice for me. Im very analytical, the job market is stellar,
and Im optimistic that it will lead to a lot of opportunities.

Begin by assessing the things that you are most


certain about (e.g. I am analytical and want to work on hard problems), make
an educated guess about a direction to take (I think software engineering
leverages these traits), and actively seek external feedback.


Why Startup Institute?

I took several programming classes, but didnt major in computer science or intend to work in the field until
my senior year. I felt that I would benefit from having more time to work on projects and pick up practical
skills. I thought a masters degree was my only option, until I discovered bootcamps.

After some research, I applied to Startup Institute because the program is focused on networking
opportunities, helping students to discover their best fits and find jobs in tech companies. Enrolling in
a coding bootcamp that starts scratch didnt make sense for me, since I already had a fair amount of
programming experience at that point.
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What are you doing now?


I work as a software engineer for Mavrck. We offer a platform that allows brands to identify their most
influential customers on social media and activate them to create and distribute branded content. Weve
grown from seven full-time employees when I started to 26, in a little over a year. Right now, I work primarily
on back-end development using Node.js, as well as configuring and maintaining the production environment
on Amazon Web Services.

What skills were most important to getting your job?
I spent a great deal of time trying to understand the whys of application development and software
engineering, rather than learning how to use fifty different tools/ frameworks to pad my LinkedIn profile. This
enabled me to perform better in the conversational part of the technical interview, because I was able to
speak more intelligently about the topics that the engineers interviewing me cared about.

How did you learn these skills?
It was a mix of self-direction and formal training. I learned how to program in a few different languages,
the basics of databases, and some software engineering in college. During Startup Institute, I was focused
on learning more practical skills (such as Git and security), filling in any glaring knowledge gaps, and taking
advantage of the experienced instructors to help clarify my understanding of different topics.

What advice would you give fresh college grads who are unsure of their next steps?
The hardest part about getting your first job after graduating college is uncertainty. Spending time pursuing
an end that is not guaranteed can be nerve-wracking. I think the best approach is to apply lean principles
(popularized in a book by Eric Ries) to your own learning and career decisions. Begin by assessing the things
that you are most certain about (e.g. I am analytical and want to work on hard problems), make an educated
guess about a direction to take (I think software engineering leverages these traits), and actively seek external
feedback. Use this feedback to refine the direction you take. Repeat this process over and over again and it
wont be long before youll find yourself in a position you love.

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Step 2.
SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Tips for Your Rsum and LinkedIn Profile

To land your dream job, your rsum and LinkedIn profile will need to be in top shape. Tailor each
with keywords relevant to the roles youre interested in, and in the case of your rsum, revisit and
customize for each job and company you pursue. Use the summary section of your LinkedIn profile
to share your passions, strengths, and goals in a clear and compelling way.

First Last
Aspiring Innovator
your@email.com
123-456-7890
linkedin.com/yourname
@yourhandle
E D U C AT I O N
University of XXXXXX

WORK EXPERIENCE
August 2011June 2015

Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; Art History Minor;


GPA: 3.7; Magna Cum Laude.
Pro Tip: Only include your GPA if its over 3.0

Put your best foot forward. On your rsum, lead with


education or work experience- whichever is most robust
and relevant. As a recent graduate, your education will most
likely come first. On LinkedIn, you can reorder the sections if
necessary.
Share your golden-moments. Did you write a senior thesis?
Contribute to a major research project? Win an award? Study
abroad? This is your time to own your successes!
Make a timeline. Whether education or work experiencealways list your most recent experience first, then follow
chronologically.

SKILLS + INTERESTS
Share the extras! Talented linguist? Captain of the team?
Enthusiastic volunteer? Highlight your passions to show youre
a great fit.
Keep it to one page. Use a normal, legible font size, and
mind your margins! You can get away with less than one inch,
but dont push it beyond .7 inches.

Pro Tip: Dont use too many fonts. Instead, show emphasis with bold/italics

Sales intern at XXXXXX

May 2013September 2015

Front-load for impact. Your interviewer wont read every


word on your rsum. Lead with your most impressive
accomplishments to show that youre focused on results.
Let the numbers do the talking. Include quantified stats as
much as possible-- these will increase the credibility of your
claims.
Show attention to detail. Spelling, grammar, verb tense, and
consistency in formatting and punctuation are key! Be sure to
find least one proofreader.
Now is not the time to be humble! Take your resume to the
next level with powerful action words like these:
Achieved; Advised; Communicated; Coordinated; Critiqued;
Determined; Discovered; Established; Evaluated; Guided;
Implemented; Improved; Obtained; Organized; Oversaw;
Negotiated; Planned; Solved; Trained; Wrote

Pro Tip: Dont use words of self-praise, like go-getter or team player

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Position Your Degree for the 21st Century Job Market

Amidst a climate of fierce job competition, there has been a lot of talk about career-ready
degreesones with a clear career path which will position you to enter the job market with relative
ease. Still, there is plenty of value in a liberal arts education, too. The skills obtained in some of the
most common majors are relevant to many opportunities in the 21st century job market. Not sure
how? Check out our cheat sheet, below.

Social Sciences & Economics
Critical thinking and analytical skills; the ability to notice patterns and extract principles
Interpreting data summaries and performing statistical analysis
Research skills; including the ability to design, conduct, and interpret research

How they transfer: The ability to understand and interpret human behavior is critical in marketing,
and will help you to identify messages that will resonate with potential customers. UX/UI designers
and web designers work alongside the marketing team to create digital experiences that are
optimized to turn leads into customers. Both design and marketing roles are data-driven, so your
abilities to conduct research, interpret data, and perform statistical analysis are invaluable.

English & Journalism
Excellent writing skills and ability to appeal to diverse audiences
Critical thinking and analytical abilities
Delivering results with strong attention to detail under tight deadlines

How they transfer: These degrees position you as a communicator. With strong language skills,
good writers are able to wordsmith messaging so that it is powerful and authentic. In an age when
content is king, you are a perfect fit for a content marketing position. Youd also make an excellent
salespersonable to connect effectively and attentively with diverse customers as you work under
strict deadlines to exceed your sales goals.

Mathematics & Computer Science
Ability to follow complex reasoning and construct logical arguments
Mathematics skills (algebra, analysis, geometry, statistics, and applied mathematics)
The ability to learn from failure and move on quickly

How they transfer: You are poised to become a rockstar developer. The skills learned in these
majors are highly sought after by many innovative companies. If youre a math or computer science
major, youd be wise to roll-up your sleeves, put on your noise-canceling headphones and get to
work learning front or back-end programming languages. With a strong background in strategy
and numbers, youd also excel in designing revenue models and would be a strong candidate for a
business development role.

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Position Your Degree for the 21st Century Job Market


Life Sciences
Experimenting via trial-and-error and bouncing back after failed hypotheses
Inquisitive with an innate curiosity and figure-it-out mentality
Managing data and using it to draw significant conclusions

How they transfer: Your inquisitive nature and trust in the scientific method could make you a strong
digital marketer or data scientist. Explore roles in big data or performance marketing to put your
talents for analytics and experimentation to work. This ability to manage complex information,
identify problems, and patience to hack until youve found a solution will also make you wellequipped for a role in web development.

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Highlighting Your Passions for A Cultural Fit

Our research shows that 92% of business executives believe that culture skills are as important or
more important than technical know-how. This is good news for a young professional who may be
lacking in industry experience. Here are the six characteristics that entrepreneurial leaders value
most, and how you can position your passions to show youre a great culture fit:

3
2

ABILITY TO
THRIVE AMIDST
AMBIGUITY

DESIRE
TO LEARN

PASSION

SCRAPPINESS
AND GRIT

5
EXCELLENCE AT
COLLABORATION

6
WILLINGNESS TO
PUT THE COMPANY
BEFORE ONESELF

The Athlete
You understand that teamwork can make the dream work. Showcase your strong collaborative skills,
and willingness to put the success of the team or company over your own personal glory. Your
competitive edge demonstrates persistence and determination, which will help a company to grow.
The Artist
Artists live and breathe their passions, infusing their work with energy and emotion. Still, theyre
rarely satisfied with their work-- always striving for self-improvement. If youve learned to play the violin or have refined your painting techniques over years of practice, your growth as an artist demonstrates dedication to learning and a grit to improve.
The Traveler
If you studied abroad or are committed to exploring new places and spaces, leverage your ability to
thrive amidst ambiguity as a willingness to take risks and confidence in navigating the unknown. Your
interest in people and cultures highlights your innate curiosity and means that you can probably
navigate complex social dynamics, too.
The Activist
Whether youre an environmentalist or a social activist, youre a mover and shaker who knows how
to inspire action in others. Youre an extremely passionate person who puts your cause and integrity
above all else. Any company that aligns with your values would be lucky to have you as a leader and
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evangelist.

How to Supercharge Your Personal Brand

Your digital brand can give employers a sense of who you are beyond the flat paper resume
helping them to imagine the talents, passion, and energy that youd bring to the team. An online
presence also enables them to find you, rather than you always having to go after them. According
to CareerBuilders social media recruitment survey:
52% of employers research candidates online
60% say theyre looking for information that supports the candidates qualifications
56% say they look to see if the candidate has a professional online persona
48% found something on the Internet that caused them not to make a job offer
32% found information on the Internet that caused them to make a job offer
If a potential employer Googles you, what will they find? Sure, you dont want them to stumble upon
solo cup-littered photos from your dorm room, but zero cyber-footprint wont speak highly of you
in the hyper-connected digital age, either. Its important to take stock of your personal brand, and
develop a powerful and cohesive story.
How to Build Your Digital Brand

Think through why youre using a branding outlet and define your objectives. Have a clear purpose
in mind when choosing a tool and focus on quality over quantity.
Consider these tools as you build your personal brand:

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The Agile Grads Guide to Continued Education

You may need to build your skills and experience in order to land your dream job. Once upon a time,
graduate school would have been your only option, but many continued education programs now exist.
Think about these factors as you evaluate the possibilities:

Hard skills: Will you learn technical skills that will enable you to hit the ground running at a new job?

Culture skills: A study by Peter Salovey, leading psychologist and President of Yale, revealed that people
rated highest by their peers in emotional intelligence receive the largest raises and are promoted most
frequently. Will this opportunity help you to reinforce the soft skills you need to be successful?

Network: According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through networking. Will
this program connect you with a powerful network that you can leverage for years to come?

Real-world experience: Will this opportunity immerse you in an authentic, real-world experience, or will
learning be mostly theoretical?

Mentorship: Will you learn from practitioners working in the industry?
Job placement support: Will program staff provide in helping you to find employment? Will support
only last for the duration of your enrollment, or will you continue to get job placement support postgraduation?

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Varad Karmarkar
C O N T E N T S P E C I A L I S T AT C A R E C O N T E N T

What did you study in college?


I bounced around a lot in college. I studied chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, and
biology before settling on economics and political science. I enjoyed learning a lot, but I wasnt sure how
those classes would translate into a career.

What were your priorities at the time you were graduating?
My only priority was to find a job. I had a job through a temp agency briefly, but it wasnt a good fit. They
wanted a worker-bee whod keep his head down and not ask any questions. That wasnt what I wanted or
needed.
What are you doing now?
I work for a growing startup called CareContent. We increase health literacy by managing the content
marketing for hospitals. I currently create content and, as we continue to build our website, my
responsibilities will start to include Google Analytics to see how our traffic is coming in. Im also taking
the part-time Intro to Ruby course at Startup Institute, with an eye on transitioning into a developer role
down the road.

What skills were most important to getting your job?
The most important thing was the willingness and ability to talk to anyone. I met our founder at Startup
Institutes Talent Expo and struck up a conversation. She told me about the job opening and from there I
leaned on my writing experience and my love of health and medicine.

How did you learn these skills?
I got better at writing in a political theory course I took my junior year, and I refined those skills as I wrote
essays in my poli-sci courses senior year. Studying for the MCAT and interning at Baxter Healthcare
helped me gain a real appreciation for health and medicine.

I gained a lot of confidence in my own abilities by being around like-minded people at Startup Institute
and through the activities and workshops we did while there. That helped a lot.

What advice would you give fresh college grads who are unsure of their next steps?
Disregard anything youve heard about what youre supposed to be doing at age 22 or 23 (or any age).
Do some brief introspection and make sure that the next step youve laid out for yourself is what you
really want to do. Otherwise, you are wasting everyones time.

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Step 3.
SEAL THE DEAL

How to Crush It In The Interview

Youve landed a job interviewgood work! Now what? Scheduling the interview is only the first step.
Heres how to make a great impression:

Do your homework.
Familiarize yourself with the job description. How does your experience and skill set fit the
requirements of the position? Be sure to have examples ready.
Look the company up online. Figure out who their leadership, customers, and competitors. Web
sources such as blog posts, LinkedIn and media releases can provide valuable insight too.

Try out the companys product, especially if you are interested in any sort of product design,
development, or management role.

Practice doesnt make perfect, but it gets you closer.
Rehearse your answers to some common interview questions. Write them down to frame your
ideas, and then practice saying them aloud. If there are any questions youre especially worried
about (often these involve questions around weakness and failure), dont ignore them and hope they
dont come up. Take time now to consider good responses and examples to back up what youre
saying.
Use the STAR method to organize your ideas, and practice explaining the circumstance, your role
in it, and the result. Pro-tip: the result should include what you learned and how it will inform your
work in the future.

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How to Crush It In The Interview

Consider the details.


Prepare all necessary materials youll need at the interview ahead of time. This might include copies
of your rsum for each known interviewer (plus some extrasjust in case), a reference list, and
work samples that highlight your skills.

Finally, think about what you are going to wear and how you are going to get to the interview. The
day of the interview is stressful enough without having to worry about these details. A good rule of
thumb is to dress a notch above how the rest of the office is dressing.

Youve done all you can. Now, relax!
Interview day has arrived: breathe. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your interview. Lastly, be
yourself and stay positive.

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Interviewing the Company Thats Interviewing You

As the interviewee, its easy to get intimidated. Your inclination is often to sell yourself. You run
through an expertly organized list of accomplishments, why youre interested in the role and how
you plan to grow your career. Though an interview is typically seen as means of getting more
information out of the candidate, interviewees should really be taking time to do some due diligence
of their own.
Always remember that an interview is a more structured conversation and that youre learning just
as much about the interviewer as they are about you. Here are the top areas to probe so that you
can get the most out of your interview:

Learn about the position in question:
Its important to take the temperature of the position to make sure that the role youre potentially
stepping into is not a revolving door and is one which you can leverage to build your skill set.
Questions to ask might include:

What is the reason for the vacancy at this time?

What do you need this person to do in the role?

How will this position contribute to the teams success?

What is the growth trajectory for this position?

Understanding the hiring manager:
Its also important to know the person youll be reporting to on a regular basis.
Some questions might include:

What do you feel is the best way to manage your team for maximum output?

How will you define success for this position?

What main skill sets or traits do you look for when hiring for your team?
Assessing the culture of the company:
Everyone knows that an awesome company culture can turn a good position into a great one. But,
avoid clich questions like, why do you like working here? and what is it like to work here?
Instead, ask these:

Why did you decide to come here?

What is it about your position that you enjoy most?

What are a few common traits across all employees?

Questions to ask at the end of the interview:
Your number one priority leaving the interview should be to obtain as much feedback and clarity as
possible.
Questions to consider may be:

How does my skill set match up against what youre looking for?

Do you have any concerns with my background at this stage?

What are the next steps and what is your timetable on hiring for this role?
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What Are Hiring Managers Really Looking For?

By the time you make it to the interview, you can usually be pretty sure that your skills and
experiences fit the bill for what the company needs. Still, even the most technically qualified
candidates wont walk away with an offer every time.

We fielded surveys with over 200 business executives to learn what qualities they value most. 92%
of our respondents felt that soft skills were just as important as technical skills, and over 25% of this
large majority felt that they were more important. Here are their top six:

Desire to learn.


Jay Bhattacharya, Zipmark
Were constantly looking for people who want to become industry experts and have the discipline
and drive to manage their own learning. We want to see that youre willing to push yourself beyond
your comfort zone, and will use your colleagues as resources for your own development.

Excellence at collaboration.


Tom Cullen, LaunchPad Lab
We look for people who thrive on collaboration... Everyone is expected to be creative and contribute
to all facets of building businesses (ours and our clients).

Ability to thrive amidst ambiguity.



Josh Waller, Krossover
We need people who are able to roll with the punches and do what needs to get done, even if it
is not in their job description. The best way to impact a team is to show that you can conquer a
challenge, rather than just saying you can.


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What Are Hiring Managers Really Looking For?

Passion.



Alaina Restivo, Swipely
Above all else, you have passion for our people and genuinely want to play an important role in their
success. You look for ways to drive excellence among our teams and individuals... [You have] an
enthusiasm that is contagious and an innate ability to get people excited when collaborating across
departments.

Scrappiness & grit.



Katie De Voto, ContextMedia
Joining a high-growth company is no easy task. You have the excitement of truly seeing the impact
you make on the trajectory of the organization; but you must have grit and be ready to work.

Willingness to put the company before oneself.



Sara Hopson, Maxwell Health
We hire people who are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve our mission. While that sounds
pretty rosy in theory, it can be tough. Sometimes, it means a developer being okay with scrapping
an entire new feature or project that theyve sunk time and attention into because we determine it
doesnt contribute to the vision weve set for ourselves. At the end of the day, no one at Maxwell can
be out for themselves.

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I always did something I was a little not ready


to do. I think thats how you grow. When theres
that moment of Wow, Im not really sure I can
do this, and you push through those moments,
thats when you have a breakthrough.
Marissa Meyer

Getting Back Up When You Get Knocked Down: How to Deal with Job Rejection

Job rejection is tough and, in the midst of it all, staying positive is even tougher. But rejection
happens to everyone. You need to find ways to gather yourself, move forward, and try again.
Getting rejected from a job can come down to a whole host of things: business politics, budget, or
an arbitrary gut feeling. Rather than taking it personally, turn rejection into a learning opportunity.
Follow up with the interviewer:
Thank them for the experience, and ask for feedback. This shows that you can accept criticism and
are focused on self-improvement. Should another role become available, maybe its your name they
will think of for filling it. A no today doesnt mean its a no in the future.
Work that network:

If the company and position firmly align with your career goals, then network with the interviewer
and anyone you were introduced to during the interview process (LinkedIn is a great place to start).
You never know, there may be another great fit they can connect you with.

Always have a backup plan:

Even if the job you applied for is your dream job and you cant imagine working anywhere else, its
important to have multiple applications in process so you have other options should that gig not
work out. These options will give you something to fall back on, and keep you focused on your job
hunt.
Remind yourself of what youre good at:

Job rejections dont define you. Think about times youve both met and exceeded expectations in the
past. Use these examples in your next interview to show your potential for strength and success.
These can be anything from leading a successful group project in college, to remaining resilient in a
tough job market. The grit that moves you forward makes you a winner.

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Kylie Hosken
C O M M U N I T Y S P E C I A L I S T AT N U T S H E L L

What did you study in college?


I was a triple major: economics because I enjoyed the variety within itboth analytical and
mathematical, but also involving a lot of theory. International studies, because I grew up overseas
and wanted something with an international focus; it also tied in well with economics. Finally, I chose
Spanish because I wanted to be fluent in another language.
What were your priorities at the time you were graduating?
I felt excited and sad at the same time when I graduated. I still had no idea what I wanted to do
when I grew up, as they say, but felt like there were a lot of possibilities out there. I knew what I
didnt want, so I was focused on exploring opportunities for jobs that fit what I wanted. Finding a
job was a priority, but I did not want to rush into the first job I found out of fear. I wanted to find
something I was excited about.

Why Startup Institute?
I knew I didnt want a typical entry-level job where Id get put into this box saying can only do
meaningless tasks with little responsibility. I knew I was capable of taking on way more than I would
find in that kind of position. At the same time, I didnt know what I would do in continued education.
I thought I would like a tech environment for the responsibility, challenge, variety, and risk. I chose
Startup Institute to explore that further and add to my skills.

What skills were most important to getting your job?
I would say my experience at Startup Institute was key; maybe not for the specific skills I learned,
but the fact that it showed that I was passionate about innovation and understood what would
be involved in working at a tech company. I would also say that my people skills were key and my
willingness to learn and do whatever needed to get done.
What advice would you give fresh college grads who are unsure of their next steps?
Dont rush into whatever comes along for lack of a better option or because youre scared nothing
better will. Take the time to explore your options, and figure out what youd like to do. Then invest in
making that happen.
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Everything You Should and Shouldnt Do Before Responding to A Job Offer

How do you respond to a job offer? How do you decide if its right? Heres a list of dos and donts to help you
think-through your offer and navigate negotiations before accepting a job offer.

W H AT T O D O B E F O R E R E S P O N D I N G T O A J O B O F F E R :
Get the details:

Oftentimes, people are so excited by the prospect of a new job that they forget about the other important
aspects outside of base salary. Yes, you absolutely need to know what the salary is, but theres a lot more
to the job than what you get paid. How often do you get paid? How much, if any, of your health insurance
is covered by your future employer? What health plan do you have? Is there a 401K and does the employer
contribute? Whats the vacation or sick time policy? Do you have any lingering questions to ask before
accepting, perhaps about the job expectations or your future manager? Now is the time to get this
information so you know exactly what youre walking into.

Get it in writing:
There is nothing wrong with accepting a job over the phone. That being said, nothing is done until you see
your offer and details in writing. You need to see your written offer (which includes compensation) in addition
to the information listed above. Remember: accepting a job offer is all about making the right decision for
your future. Sifting through the details in writing allows you to really think about everything you are and arent
getting with the new position.
Give yourself some time:
Its likely that the company is going to give you some sort of deadline to make a decision. This could be
anywhere from 24 hours to a week. Once you receive your offer, convey your appreciation and excitement,
and then take the time to think about it. Look everything over, talk to people you trust, do whatever you need
to do to make sure you feel comfortable giving a yes or no when that deadline is up.

W H AT Y O U S H O U L D N T D O W H E N C O N S I D E R I N G A J O B O F F E R :
Go silent:
Its important to take time to figure out what you really want. That being said, be respectful and dont go dark!
The company has extended a job to you and is looking forward to having you on their team. How you handle
the offer is the first impression the hiring manager and company will have of you before you get in the door.
Make sure youre communicative during the process, even if you are taking time to make a decision.
Be shortsighted:
Its important to negotiate the big thingsthe things that matter. Dont nit-pick every detail of the job offer.
Figure out what actually matters to you. Prioritize what you need from a company and what is something you
could really do without. Is salary the most important? Is vacation time a deal breaker? There are a lot of perks
and benefits at every company so its crucial to know what matters to you most and what you need to go back
to the negotiating table to further discuss.
In the end, taking or passing on a job offer is a very personal decision. Different things matter to different
peoplesalary, benefits, perks, career progression and more can influence your decision. What it all really
comes down to is finding the best possible fit for you. Be smart and consider all of your options before
responding to your job offer.
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What Is Startup Institute?

Were building an inspired workforce, knowing the world is a better place when people do what they love.
About us: Our eight-week program will give you the skills, mindset, and network to find a job you
love, doing work that matters.
Well help you leverage your passions and build the technical skills, culture skills, and network that
will launch you into the innovation industry in the areas of web development, web design, technical
marketing, or sales and account management.

Web
Development

Web
Design

Technical
Marketing

Sales & Account


Management

UX and UI design,
user research, rapid
ideation, and frontend development

Key languages,
frameworks,
and deployment
techniques

Performance and
content, data analytics,
and customer
segmentation

Pipelines, lead
generation, and
customer relationship
management

Uniquely positioned at the center of tech ecosystems in Boston, New York, and Chicago, weve
designed our program to open new doors for you. In addition to expert training in the most indemand skills, we offer personalized career mentorship and connections to the people and
companies that will advance your career.

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Get In Touch

Want to talk? Were here to answer your questions and help you determine if our program is right
for you.

Katie Bickford

VP of Admissions
katie.bickford@startupinstitute.com

Alessia Mondlane

Admissions and Tuition Advisor
alessia@startupinstitute.com

Connect With Us

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Global HQ
50 Milk Street, 14th Floor
Boston, MA 02109
USA

startupinstitute.com
info@startupinstitute.com
888-425-5557