How I Got a Job at a Startup (without Being Technical)

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If you’re not technical, landing a gig at a growing startup can seem impossible. But you don’t have to be a programmer or data scientist to land your dream job (though it certainly helps). As long as your do research, play up your strengths, and talk to the right people, joining a startup is within reach.

Take me for example: I’m a recent college graduate with a degree in Communications. I took a web development class during my time in college, but unless you’re looking for someone to build an extremely basic website, I’m probably not your ideal candidate. However, I was able to land a job at Galvanize about a month ago as part of the marketing team – despite not being able to code anything besides basic html and the occasional emoji.

You may not realize that even the most tech-heavy startups aren’t only comprised of developers. Think of all the positions in support, community management, PR, marketing, business development, operations, and other departments. A cursory look at Uber’s dauntingly large list of job openings reveals hundreds of openings in non-technical positions.

When I discovered Galvanize through a friend (on Snapchat, of all places), I instantly became intrigued. And the more I looked into what they were doing, the more I wanted to be part of such a fast-growing company. I love where I am.

If you want to join a startup, here are a few tips on how to land that dream job:

Know the Company’s Culture

Before you consider applying for a position with a startup, you need to understand the culture of their community. Dive in head first and do lots of research. Learn about the company’s mission, their products, the work environment, who works there, the hours you’ll be working, and how your skills and knowledge can contribute to the growth of their business.

All startups have a founding story, and knowing how a company got started and what it has grown into today will allow you to position yourself as a great fit for the organization. Here’s a simple checklist of things you should know:

  • Who the founders are
  • How much money the company has raised, and when
  • Who’s invested in the company
  • Details of the company’s last major announcement

Again, these are just the basics. Showing them how much you already know about their culture and company trajectory will make you a much better candidate.

Build Connections and Be Yourself

Don’t be afraid to reach out to people who can help – send an email, shake a hand, take a name or a business card. In a world where it’s not only what you know, but who you know, you have to be ready to build personal connections. Reach out to your network and see who can introduce you to the right contacts at the company.

Once you send in your application, be professional, but be yourself. Think of it as the beginning of a relationship with your potential manager and employer: people want to see who the person is behind the resume. If you have any interesting or unique accomplishments,  bring them during the interview process. Did you work on an anti-bullying campaign? Do you hold a world record in hula-hooping? Did you used to be a traveling musician? This information not only shows that you’re interesting, but also demonstrates drive and ambition – both qualities that are extremely important for a startup employee.

Throw in Some Elbow Grease

If you want to work in a startup, commit to putting in significant time and effort before you land your dream job. When you eventually get hired, you’ll likely be working long hours on many different projects.

Remember to stay organized during the job hunt and after, and be willing to adapt to any situation or opportunity that comes your way. You definitely aren’t going to know everything, and that’s OK. Just make sure you’re always learning – turn your weaknesses into positive outcomes by being creative and resourceful.

Don’t let being non-technical stop you from pursuing your goals of working at a startup. If you can show that you’re more than just a resume, find the right people in your network, and show off your unique personality, I guarantee you’ll be able to find an amazing company that you can grow with.