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Want a career in a startup? We chat with Startup Institute London

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by Startacus Admin

Katarina Jones Startup InstituteA few weeks ago we chatted with David Jackson a young professional who had taken the leap and made a career change when he transitioned into a role at a London-based startup.

But this career transition hadn't occurred by chance; we learned that David had gone through an extensive training program at Startup Institute London.

Startup Institute, with 3 hubs in the US and 2 European bases, in Berlin and London, offers an eight-week programme to give people the skills, mindset & network in preparation for a career at a startup.

So when we got the opportunity to have a chat with Katarina Jones, Associate Director at Startup Institute London (herself a seasoned self-starter), we leapt at the chance. And of course, in true Startacus style, we thought we’d share that chat and Katarina's insight with you.

characteristics of a self starterWe got straight in there, asking Katarina in her experience, what type of person makes a good startup business employee - or is making such a criterium possible?

Katarina started by clarifying that the ideal type of person depends on the culture of the startup company itself— each is different after all. However, she also explained that there are a few traits which are synonymous with the type of person that can expect to do well in a startup environment.

"Having passion, a go-above-and-beyond attitude, being a self-starter - these are typical characteristics. People have to be curious by nature, have a real thirst for knowledge and want to push the boundaries with what an organisation is doing".

Good traits of any self-starter, we hope you agree?

And what of Katarina herself; how did she become so embedded in the startup scene and employment sector?

Katarina had initially completed a Masters in Environmental Studies, which had led to her falling into working for a small startup environmental consultancy. In a way, this is an atypical route into working in a startup,chat with Katarina Jones Startup Institutehowever it's no mistake that Katarina, who loved the “early-stage part of working for a startup" clearly demonstrated the typical traits she outlined above. In fact, these made her an integral person, not only within the startup itself, but more widely the startup scene full-stop. Network builders and good communicators are great for startups - but more on that in a minute.

Next for Katarina came an active involvement in Startup Weekend, and then most recently her latest startup career leap working for the Startup Institute. It's a natural career fit, combining her "love for the early-stage part of starting a business and her passion for helping people to develop and grow.”

We asked what type of skills and experience do startups find it hardest to recruit for?

Alongside highlighting technical marketing, web development and web design as areas where there are skill shortages, not just in the UK but more globally, Katarina picked up on a core theme of the Startup Institute itself.

career in a startup"One thing I think will be really critical going forward in the future of education is the coupling of industry with education."

It's a good point - too long has education and industry worked separately in providing key skills, meaning that graduates have a great education, but no experience in practicing this education and its learnings in the real world. Likewise workplaces need to be prepared to offer placements to give graduates and career professionals that real-life experience.

Startups offer a unique environment and experience too, meaning that places like the Startup Institute bridge that gap between good all-around potential employees and great startup employees, by helping to create and nurture both the right skill sets and mindsets for prospective startup employees.

Leading on from this, we asked how jobseekers in the US are when compared to their UK counterparts, with regards to the required skill sets and mindsets for working in a startup environment?

Katarina started by looking back at the UK startup scene, highlighting the last 3-5 years as when the startup scene has really blossomed in the UK. Then comparing this to the StatesStartup Institute

she identifies;

"America has some more mature startup scenes where employment in a startup is definitely seen as a viable career option. This is starting to be the case in the UK."

And as the Startup Institute alumni community grows (those that have gone through the Startup Institute programme), she predicts the lasting impact that they have as a group on the wider world will be startup careerimmense; thereby reiterating our earlier point that network builders and good communicators are great for startups. The key benefit of the programme is not only the network of contacts you make from the programme and the startups and the career prospects it initially introduces you to, but also the long term network that ends up being built between the alumni themselves.

Startup Institute are quite strict in ensuring that they only accept the right type of candidates into the program itself. In fact, only 1 in 4 are accepted at the application stage. However, Katarina is proud to highlight that they have a success rate of 9 out of 10 alumni finding a job with a startup within 3 months of completing the program.

Fantastic results all round.

On this, Katarina made one final point - "Yes the results are great, but we expect candidates on the programme to put in some real hard work. Just like anything worthwhile, you get out of the programme what you putinto it."

Words of wisdom indeed. After all, as we’re sure you’d agree, fellow self-starters - if they ain't putting in the hard work, they ain't really self-starters in the first place, are they eh?

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Published on: 7th January 2015

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