If your dream is to get hired by a tech company, particularly a start-up filled with young people with fresh ideas, there are a few things you can do to put yourself ahead of the pack while interviewing. Some of the tips are specific to the tech industry and others are simply good all-around job-search guidelines.
Get Your Education
For every story of a successful tech entrepreneur who dropped out of high school or college and made millions, there are 100s of other stories of successful businessmen and women who completed their education and went on to get advanced degrees. Until you make a million dollars at age 22, assume you will be in the later category and stay in school, learning as much as you can. Do some research on people in the industry who you admire and find out what they studied. Don’t shy away from difficult classes. You never know when having a deep understanding of fluid dynamic scale level analytics may differentiate you from candidates without that background.
While you’re in school, start networking. Chances are no one is going to hire you your first semester in college, but that should not stop you from attending networking events. You never know where a great connection is going to come from, so never dismiss anyone, including support staff. It’s just possible that a casual conversation in line at a coffee shop could lead to a business card that could change your life. Keep a notebook of everyone you meet and anything about the conversation that you remember. The act of writing information down will help you store it in your long-term memory so that if you re-meet that person a year later, you’ll be able to say, “nice to see you again” and mean it.
When you finally do get an interview, act like a professional. Everyone in the office may be wearing flip-flops and have their dog with them, but until you get the job (and unless you’re told specifically not to) wear a suit and leave Fido at home. Be on time. Your interviewer has the luxury of keeping you waiting if he or she chooses, but you don’t have the luxury of making him or her wait. Bring several paper copies of your resume just in case one of those techies likes the feel of real paper. Proofread any work samples. And most importantly, do your homework. Learn all about the company and the people that you could be working for. Know their product or service and be prepared for questions about how you would change or improve it. In other words, prepare your sales pitch about what more you could add to what they are already doing without you.
Monitor Social Media
From the time you are heading to college, you need to get very intense about monitoring your social media presence. If you posted anything controversial (or let’s be honest, stupid) in your younger years, close out the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. account immediately and start fresh. Unfollow or silence anyone who posts content to your site that might reflect unfavorably on you. That doesn’t mean you should abandon your deep-seated beliefs, but never assume that yours will align with your future employer. Your social media accounts will get checked. Very smart people have lost jobs for posting things that were silly or innocent at the time only to have the political and social climate flip on what’s acceptable. In this age of everything-is-remembered-forever, very few people are forgiven for perceived political incorrectness even if it was a decade ago.
The best team member is one who has great ideas but is willing to share the credit with others because they understand that it often takes many people working on something to see the idea to full fruition. Express your flexibility and your adaptability to lead or follow depending on what’s needed from you for that particular project.
If you are passionate about working in the tech industry, then you will, no doubt, be a great addition to a start-up or established company. Start planning for a job early by making smart choices.