What Students Really Need to Learn to Get a Startup Job

8 years, 9 months ago - February 18, 2013
Peter Bell, who recently joined hackNY as an evangelist and hacker, is sick of the myths that are propagated about how best to prepare for a startup-focused software development career. Often he hears computer science or engineering students say that great GPAs or a top name college are the ticket to a great startup job.

In fact, based on Bell’s experience as a CTO and entrepreneur, what really helps is a history of hackathons, side projects, and experience of the engineering practices required to work well in a fast-moving startup team.

“Unfortunately most colleges don’t provide all of the skills required for a graduate to become a successful software engineer,” said Bell, who is a co-founder of CTO School and was previously SVP Engineering at General Assembly and CTO at SKiNNiO. “Without a well-stocked Github account, experience in working with teams, and comfort with practices like unit testing and test driven development – processes that allow small startup teams to continually improve their software without lengthy QA cycles – they will find it hard to get a great job at a startup”.

Here’s what won’t work:

  • resume that focuses on credentials and training
  • A purely theoretical knowledge of algorithms
  • Recommendations from senior people in other fields, even if they are famous
  • Internships at large companies
  • Evidence of academic projects that were never used by anyone in the real world

“Startups respect working code,” said Bell. “The more of it the better. The more people involved in creating it the better. The more people using it the better.” Bell recommends that students attend hackathons to get experience of working collaboratively under tight deadlines with teams of other developers. They should balance that by learning how to write maintainable code using unit tests and test driven development so that they can work in a startup where the functionality of the system is often reworked every few weeks as they try to search for what prominent venture capitalist Mark Andreessen calls “Product-Market Fit“.

To get a job, you don’t work on your resume; you work on yourself. Here’s what startups are after:

  • People who are on a mission, not just looking for a job
  • People who are interested in the work, not validation and approval
  • People who can show skills, not just claim them
  • People who are aggressive but understand how to listen and admit they are wrong
  • People who can learn new skills rapidly
  • People who want to learn and to teach
  • People who like to work collaboratively in teams, not on their own

Yes, startups respect swagger, but only if it is backed up. As Muhammad Ali said, “It’s not bragging if you can back it up.” “Show startups you can back it up,” said Bell.

hackNY was founded by NYU professor Evan Korth, Columbia professor Chris Wiggins, and Hilary Mason, chief scientist at Bitly. It aims to federate the next generation of hackers for the New York innovation community. Funded by a grant from New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Bell has been conducting a college tour both to connect students to the startup community in New York and to give them a CTO’s perspective on the skills they’ll need to get the best startup jobs on graduating.


Text by Forbes

We also recommend

Tags Cloud
2010accidentsadvertisingAfrAsiaafricaagroAir Franceair mauritiusAirlinesairportairway coffeeAlvaro SobrinhoamazonAmeenah Gurib-FakimAMLandroidApollo Bramwellappleappointmentsappsarrestasiaauditaudit reportaustraliaaviationawardsBABagatelleBAIBangladeshbankbanksbarclaysbeachbeachesBeau Bassin-Rose HillbetamaxBOIboko haramBollywoodBOMbombingbpmlBPOBramer BankbrazilbrexitbudgetBusinessCanadacanecareercareer tipscasinoCCIDCCMCEBcementChagosCHCchinaCIELcigarettesconferenceConfinementCongoconstructioncontestCoronaviruscorruptionCourtCourtscouvre-feuCOVID-19CPBCPEcreativitycrisiscruise shipsCSOCT PowerCultureCurepipecustomerscustomsCWAcyclonedamDawood RawatDBMdeficitdenguedevelopmentdoctorsDomaine les PaillesDPPdrug traffickingdrugsDTAADuty FreeearthquakeebolaecoécoleseconomyEducationEgyptelectionselectoral reformelectricityEmiratesEmtelenergyENLentrepreneurshipEUEuropeeventsexamexamsexpoexportfacebookfairfarmersfeeFIFA World CupfinancefinancesFirefishfishingFlacqFlic-en-FlacFloodsfoodFootballforecastforeign workersFrancefraudfruitsFSCfuelfunnyGAARgamblinggamesgazaGermanygooglegovernmentGRAgreengreen energyhackershajjhawkershealthhealthcareHeritage Cityhistoryholidayshorse racingHospitalhotelhotel businesshotelshow toHRHRDCHSBCHSCIBLICACICTICTAID cardillegal fishingIMFimportindiaIndian OceanIndonesiainflationinfrastructureinnovationsinsuranceinternetInterviewinterview tipsinvestmentinvestmentsiosiPadiphoneiraniraqIRSISISisraelITItalyjapanJin FeijobjobsjournalismKenyalandlawlawslayoffsleadershipLepeploanslocal governmentLockdownlotteryLRTLufthansaMadagascarmalaysiamalaysia airlinesmanagementmanagement tipsmanufacturingmarketmarketingmarketsMauBankMauritiansmauritiusMBCMCBMCCImeccaMedical CouncilmedicamentsmedicineMedPointmeetingMEFMESMetro ExpressMEXAMicrosoftMIDMIEmigrationminimum salaryminimum wagemlMMMmoneymoney launderingmotivationmoviesMozambiqueMPAMPCMPCBMRAMSCMSMMTMTCMTPAMusicMV BenitaNandanee SoornackNarendra ModinatureNavin RamgoolamNavind KistnahNCBNDUnetworkingNew Mauritius HotelsNHDCNigeriaNobel Prizenorth koreaNTCNWCCofficialsoffshoreoilOlympic GamesOmnicaneorangeOUMPakistanpalestineparliamentPaul BérengerPhilippinesPhoenix Beveragespicture of the daypiracyplagePMPMOpmsdPNQpolicepoliticsportPort LouisPort-LouisPravind JugnauthPRBpricepricesproblemprostitutionprotestspsacPSCpsychologyPTRpublic servicequatre-bornesrainsRakesh Gooljauryratingsreal estatereformsrepo rateRESrestaurantsresultresultsReunionriceroadsRoches-Noires caseRodriguesRogersRose-HillRoshi BhadainRussiaSAJsalariessalarysalessamsungsaudi arabiasbmSCscamscandalscholarshipsSchoolschoolssciencesecuritySeychellessharksshootingshoppingshopping mallSICsicomsingaporeSITskillssmart citysmartphonesSMeSMEDASobrinho casesocial mediasocial networks & messengerssolar energysouthsouth africasouth koreasportSportsstartupsstatisticsstatsSTCstrategystreet vendorsstrikestudysuccesssugarSun Tan caseSunkai casesyriaTAtabletsTanzaniataxtax heaventaxesteaTECtechnologytelecomterrorismtextilethailandthefttime managementtipstourismtradingtrainingstransporttrendstunaTurfTurkeyTVtyphoonukukraineunemploymentunionsuniversityuomUSUTMvacanciesVacoas Popular Multipurpose Cooperative SocietyVacoas-Phoenixvarma casevegetablesVideo of the DayvisaVishnu LutchmeenaraidooWaterWaterparkWeatherWhitedot Casewi-fiWMAWorld BankXavier-Luc DuvalYEPzimbabwe