Making Working at a Startup a Viable Option - 1

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Making Working at a Startup a Viable Option - 1
It's hard for me to pick a favorite startup event. I like a lot of them. But for the record, if just to shed the image that I'm one of those rah-rah, everything-is-awesome guys, there are plenty of events I hate. With a passion.

Some events that purport to be startup-related are so devoid of value that they actually hurt the cause of making startups and the startup community stronger, because they masquerade as helpful to startups when they really just want startups there so they can be sold at.

I've never understood this. I used to say entrepreneurs are broke, because that rolls off the tongue easier. The fact is that entrepreneurs usually know exactly what they need and are usually looking for the most cost-effective way to procure those things.

Entrepreneurs very rarely window shop.

So when twelve of them line up under one roof to proactively advertise their company, culture, and the opportunity that exists in joining their team, the value of that event shoots through said roof.

That's why Tech Jobs Under the Big Top is one of my favorite startup events. And that's also why, if you've ever pictured yourself working for a startup, whether you're gainfully employed or not, you should be there on Thursday.

Making Working at a Startup a Viable Option - 2
This will be the fourth iteration of Tech Jobs, the brainchild of Ringmaster Chris Heivly (half of Triangle Startup Factory). I participated in the original with Automated Insights, and it immediately became obvious why this event was different, valuable, and worthwhile.

The startups quickly got wind of the vibe of the event, which turned the idea of a job fair on its head. Instead of the candidates pitching themselves to us for some entry-level position, we put together presentations that would highlight why we were the no-question only place for top-level talent to call home.

Being entrepreneurs, we got competitive about it. And the result was a showcase of the most exciting career opportunities in the Triangle, not only in terms of the opportunity that is inherent in joining a startup (risk be damned), but in the sense that you, potential team member, will come to work every day loving what you do and go home every night glad you put in the eight (or twelve or sixteen) hours that day.

But I'll also tell you this. Since that first Big Top, I've attended each additional version to cover it (I hate that term -- "cover" -- if I was a journalist, I'd have a better photo). And one thing I noticed was too many potential team members with a general lackadaisical approach to it. Standing on the sidelines, arms folded, no resume available, maybe asking a half-hearted question and then sauntering off for another hot dog.

I get this. I totally do. But understand, this isn't your traditional job fair. These aren't (or shouldn't be anyway) HR people bummed that they're giving up an evening for an after-hours requirement of their job. These are entrepreneurs. They know what they want and they will be very efficient. For the right person, this event could be application, introduction, screen, and first interview.

Over a hot dog and a beer. This isn't too far removed from the normal startup hiring process.

I'm also aware that not everyone who attends this event is unemployed, and I love that. A lot of them, maybe even half, are folks who are working. I understand that it's difficult to envision the possibility of leaving that (seemingly) secure job doing (sort of) meaningful work for a company that (apparently) cares about you and your career path.

But let me assure you, these aren't napkin ideas and people who might know people who might be able to get a meeting with that first potential customer.

This is Bandwidth, Channel Advisor, SciQuest, Bronto, Digitalsmiths, Netsertive, AtlanticBT, Knowledge Tree, Transloc, Two Toasters, Contactology, and Windsor Circle. All fully funded. All customer entrenched. (Not linking them all, see our handy feature below with a list and links).

And that's why this is one of my favorite events. Solid companies, real jobs, the right focus, an awesome environment, great track record.

I'll see you there. Just don't let me catch you with your arms folded nursing a pale ale. Come prepared. You might just walk out of there with the best job you've ever had.