How to Snag a Gig at a Tech Startup, Even if You Aren’t a Techie

Tech startups, for years they’ve been taking over cities across the globe, from San Francisco to London and back again, and for many job seekers, they’re the holy grail. WIth young would-be tech-tycoons who boast flexible hours, game rooms, free snacks, and permission to bring pets to work, it’s no surprise the underemployed among us have silicon valley dreams.

Berlin Startup Tour

But how do you break bread with IT crowd when you’ve got nothing more than a BA in English, and you think Python denotes nothing more than a dangerous reptile? Here are a few career paths you may not have considered.

1. Public relations (aka community management)

It may seem like they’re glued to their smartphones, but that doesn’t mean the brains behind the world’s startups are actually taking the time to retweet the reference Kanye West made to their app, or to respond graciously to you for signing up for the beta of their alternative social media service.

These tasks fall under the purview  of the community manager. Perfect for someone with a degree in communications, community management requires excellent grammar and even better people skills (two things tech geniuses tend to lack). Think of this as growing the brand, and as it matures, developing a community around the product. An essential role that can make or break success.


2. User Evangelist

In smaller, truly fledgling companies, this role can also be occupied by the Community Manager, but in fleshed out companies, or companies with big goals, this position can also be referred to as Community Advocate, or Support for User Operations, and each one of these titles describes the job perfectly.

As a support representative, you’ll be at the vanguard, dealing directly with customers. You’ll present and explain the product, address any problems that may arise, and respond directly to users, acting as the funnel for any and all feedback, and determining the best course of action in each instance.

3. Marketing

Drawing in new users, amping up enthusiasm, rallying around whatever product you’re offering and making it seem like the best new thing, that’s the job of the marketing department.

Small budgets make this a great way to cut your teeth and prove your worth as a marketing master. Think guerilla campaigns, social media frenzies, and flash mobs.


4. Product Management

Absolutely essential to any successful product, the manager has the the vision of the production functioning holistically, she can replicate the experience the end user should have using flow charts and framing, and she works with the engineer and design teams to implement the important changes negotiated by the User Evangelist, enabling the marketing team by keeping them abreast of the latest features and roll-outs, and keeping a fresh face to the customers.

Some companies want engineers for this position, but others are more interested in the kind of skills acquired in business school, so each application will differ based on the startup’s needs.

Don’t forget that the sooner you get your foot in the door, the better off you’ll be. This is one industry that will judge your track record even more seriously than your educational background, and it’s one of the only industries where you can get in at the ground floor and start making great money almost immediately.