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In career services, we are seeing more and more students who wish to forgo the typical entry-level first job with an established organization, and instead begin their career with a start-up. The opportunity to work in a dynamic, evolving, amorphous environment where one can have a direct impact and a valued voice certainly sounds appealing to many. If you are interested in working for a start-up organization, there are some things you may want to consider:

  • Know your proposition value – know what skills you have to offer, and make sure you can substantiate them. Are you creative? Technical? Do you have great relationship-building and sales skills? Are you a dynamic presenter? Can you think strategically and truly problem-solve? Can you work autonomously and be flexible? These are often the skill sets that shape and drive start-up organizations. Your ability to demonstrate these attributes can be tantamount to your success with a start-up.
  • Get connected – we are fortunate to be centrally located within a growing entrepreneurial landscape. With numerous start-ups located right in our backyard, there is no shortage of experienced entrepreneurs and start-up ventures to network with. Whether it’s a campus-based organization like Launch Chapel Hill (, 1789 Venture Labs (, the Entrepreneurship minor, the CUBE at the Campus Y, The American Underground ( in Durham, or HQ Raleigh (, you are well-positioned to find lots of brains to pick and connections to make.
  • Be flexible and open – Unlike an entry-level job at a Fortune 500 company, your new job at a start-up may not have a formal training program, standard work hours, or an established hierarchical ladder. Instead, your role at start-ups may be evolving, and you may need to wear many hats (especially if staffing and budgets are lean). However, often times the pay-off is the ability to make a direct impact and be part of a creative and emerging organization.

If you have questions and would like to explore your interests in working for a start-up, visit University Career Services and meet with a counselor to begin the conversation.

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