Harbus blog posts: 3 Hacks to get into hottest Silicon valley startups
Disclaimer: This post represents my personal views informed by my own search and these worked for me. I’m happy to discuss what worked for some other people and welcome comments on my thoughts.
a. Start working for them before you get the job
This demonstrates that you can be very valuable from day 1, are proactive about value creation, and need minimal management. Startups love applicants that demonstrate their potential by delivering value to the startup before they get an offer. It also shows commitment to value creation before value capture – which one can argue is at the core of the startup ethos.
b. Become a power user of the product
It’s difficult to make your case for the job if you haven’t already used the product (more applicable to consumer startups). Having used the company’s product or service materially affects one’s ability to create value on the job as it helps you empathize with users and more deeply understand their needs. Moreover, I would argue that being a power user of the product is even more useful, as power users of the products often drive product development by constantly stretching the capabilities of the existing product to match their needs. All things being equal, it’s a great edge.
c. Don’t limit yourself to “jobs” page listings/Career Hub
There are a couple reasons why the “jobs” page is useless for MBA students looking for startup jobs. One reason is the page is seldom constantly kept up to date, especially at a high growth startup – the one that you ought to be working for. Most of the recruiting at that stage is by referrals only. Only the jobs that can’t be filled by referrals go on the jobs page. As you can imagine, not the best jobs. Moreover, MBAs are rarely a huge requirement for startups (enterprise sales is an exception), and hence you would need to create a role for yourself.
Best of luck,
Pratik Agarwal is a second-year MBA student who recently worked with the mobile growth team at Airbnb. Before HBS, he started two technology companies in New Delhi, focused on online advertising and online education respectively. He’s also a partner at RoughDraft Ventures, where he invests pre-seed money in student startups.