Edition: July 9th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS
- Excerpts from article by Miles Jennings, published on Entrepreneur.com
When we are young, time is like rich soil, in which we plant for the future. Aspiring entrepreneurs should be especially conscious of their first career choices, as it can be the experience they need to prepare for their own ventures.
As the academic year closes out, youngsters across the country are evaluating job offers and looking around for the best opportunities to start their careers.
First jobs should be stepping stones – a way to capture knowledge quickly and move on, versus a position that offers immediate gratification in the form of compensation, benefits or a title. This is especially important for future entrepreneurs.
If you are a young person planning to be an entrepreneur, here are some tips and considerations for evaluating your first job
1. Big Tech Opportunity
- The traditional tech giants offer opportunities to work on well-funded experiments – applications with millions of users and network with brilliant individuals.
- However, working at one of the ‘Big Five’ – Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon & Microsoft – is no longer a risk or particularly entrepreneurial. Instead, it represents a conservative career choice.
- Joining the already largest companies in the country will no longer likely lead to wealth from stock options, but experience and brand power opportunities are hard to overstate.
2. Big Consulting Job
- Large consulting firms offer young professionals the opportunity to tackle complex problems for large employers, usually reserved for much later career management.
- Having your first job at these types of firms means you might be working on a complex supply chain issue or a branding concept for a national retailer very soon after you step out into the world of work.
- This type of experience is hard to come by, and building a successful portfolio of these projects is an excellent professional stepping stone.
3. Joining the ‘Hot Startup’
- We are often told to not do “what everyone else is doing”.
- But when it comes to startups, the crowd has a certain wisdom.
- It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to what are currently considered ‘hot startups’.
- Read up on top startup listicles like those on LinkedIn or AngelList.
- Don’t fret too much about the kind of job you can land at these hot companies. Jobs at rapidly growing companies evolve quickly, and titles mean little. Jump in, gain experience and make an impact.
- Please pay special attention to the quality of their funding sources, as this is an essential indicator of their stability and future financing availability.
4. Direct ‘Make or Break’ Path
- Those of you who wish to take the entrepreneurship road straightaway should understand that it’s a career gamble.
- However, if you’re determined, do what aspiring tech entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley do – get actual physical exposure to a concentrated network of talent.
- Young entrepreneurs make this ‘proximity bet’ for good reason and sometimes, it leads to success.
- Brush up your pitch deck (including your company mission, business plan and growth vision) and go for it!
- But be aware, this direct ‘make or break’ path has the highest risk.
5. Investment & Banking Role
- If you have the opportunity to join a large investment bank, hedge fund, or venture capital firm, expect to grind.
- These are best first jobs for entrepreneurs because they do not necessarily lead to a career in finance.
- People who understand finance understand business, and so a financial career offers incredible options.
- People come out of finance and become startup founders – not only because finance is good for wealth accumulation but because finance is integral to all industries.
- If you work in finance, you can translate these skills into whatever industry or practice area you choose to pursue.
6. Sales & Customer Service Position
- Understanding people’s needs and understanding how to address them truly is the foundational learning of most successful entrepreneurs.
- Sales positions involve pitching a product, which is helpful, but more importantly, they give you exposure to lots of external people.
- Especially when you are young and coming out of school, sales roles are great at quickly taking you out of your comfort zone and forcing you to provide value to real people.
- Customer service positions are also excellent stepping stones that teach you problem-solving, principles of product-market fit, and how to deal with people positively.
- This is someone who sets up and runs a business on his/her own.
- You can use your skills and time to offer services immediately, no matter your level of experience.
- The path of solopreneurship doesn’t presuppose having a plan for a big business, but instead focuses on the immediate generation of income based on your own efforts.
- This can be a path you take for a few months as a side hustle to make ends meet, or a lifetime of self-created business.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)