Making lines

Most college students struggle with the job and internship search. The process is mostly inefficient, stressful, and often lacks transparency.

Neither party knows enough about the other and is expected to make a massive commitment in a relatively short period of time.

When applying, college students may have an idea about a company’s brand perception or products but rarely do they know the team and internal company dynamics.

On the other hand, companies know very little about the student. For the most part, companies rely on interview performance and résume signals to make a decision.

To add even more complexity to this, more often than not roles are ill-defined and the skills necessary to fulfill them are often unknown.

The inverse of undergraduate recruiting experience is found in early-stage investing. Venture capitalists and angel investors often cite that they’re investing in lines, not dots.

“For this reason I tell entrepreneurs the following: Meet your potential investors early. Tell them you’re not raising money yet but that you will be in the next 6 months or so. Tell them you really like them so you want them to have an early view (which is what all investor’s want). When you’re with them lower the bar by telling them, “we haven’t shipped product yet, we have lots of decisions still to make, but we’d like to show you our prototype” or obviously if you’re more advanced show what you have and what your roadmap looks like.

Mark Suster, Invest in Lines, Not Dots

For a startup to succeed, product velocity matters most. Investors need to see founders build momentum over time.

How can we adapt the concept of making lines to career planning?

Be intentional about the job search process.

Make things and interact with companies that align with your interests and skills. Spend time becoming familiar with a product and the team you’d join. The key is to stay relevant over an extended period of time.

This works especially well with startups but is often difficult to do with big companies. Though, I’ve found a few hacks:

  • A friend of mine got a job at a major tech. co. by creating a Youtube tutorial series showcasing his understanding of a new programming language.
  • Another one of my friends did a case competition for a major consulting firm, landed an internship where he performed well, and then got a job offer a year later at that company.
  • I’ve had multiple friends land jobs by meeting people at industry conferences. Often students can get free tickets to industry conferences. Find one in your area of interest.

When building something whether that’s a career or a startup it’s important to think about the dots needed to make a line.

What are your dots? 

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