blog article

Webinar Series: Startup Institute

By Liz Eggleston
Last Updated May 8, 2014

In our webinar with Startup Institute, CEO Aaron O'Hearn walked us through the curriculum and different tracks, Kailey talked about tips to get a job at a startup, and a recent graduate, Jerome, shared his own story! As promised, you can watch and share the whole webinar on demand by following this link.

Switching your career path? Startup Institute's summer application is open until Sunday, June 1st. Apply now for one of four tracks: Sales & Account Management, Product & Design, Web Development, and Technical Marketing. Learn from current startup employees and deep dive into the soft and hard skills proven to drive results within startups. In 8 weeks you'll be prepared to jump on board a startup team. If you have questions for Startup Institute, send them to 

And be sure to visit Course Report for school information, interviews, and helpful articles about applying to the bootcamp of your dreams. Sign up for our email list to be the first to know about our next webinar!


Full transcript below!

Tonight we are joined by Aaron O’Hearn and Kailey Raymond from Startup Institute. Aaron is the CEO of Startup Institute and he’s going to share their approach to learning and he’s going to give an overview of the program. Then Kailey is going to take us through the best ways to land a job at a startup, which we all know can be really hard work. Also, we will have Jerome who graduated from Startup Institute and he’s going to talk us through his experience and how he actually got a job at a startup.

I want to remind everyone that we are going to be doing a couple of Q&A sessions throughout the webinar; one with be with Aaron and another with Kailey. Please use the questions tab on the side of your control panel to send in any questions that you have and when it’s time for Q&A, we’re going to try something new this time. I’m going to call on people to ask their questions and give you the opportunity to actually ask them.

So with that, I’m going to pass it on to Aaron and we can hear all about Startup Institute.

Aaron: Right on. Thank you, Liz; I appreciate the introduction and the time to help educate folks on what we’re trying to do. I’ll try to keep this short and certainly open it up to any questions that folks have. I think that Kailey’s component will have a lot a lot of tactical and certainly valuable advice in terms of how it can help speak to – just evidence of what we’re really trying to do.

I just want to explain what Startup Institute is, ultimately what we believe ion, share a couple of different facts that would be particularly interesting and then open it up for questions.

Ultimately, Startup Institute is a career accelerator. I think if you were really to boil that down and really try to understand what we do; the best way to think about it is that we are here to help people find jobs they love. Everything that we do, all the work we put in, our entire team’s mission for being is to help you be fulfilled in your career. Our belief is that startups represent an incredible opportunity for people to really be fulfilled with purpose within their jobs.

So when we’re looking at this we’re saying okay, how do people become fulfilled within their jobs? Well ultimately, they do something they’re passionate about and act with that purpose.  For us, early stage companies and other growth companies represent the best opportunity to do that.

I think a short genesis of where we came from might be helpful to explain how we got here. Myself and a few others including our cofounders were part of Tech Stars here in Boston and also nationally. Over and over again, we kept hearing from companies who were raising money, growing faster than their investment and their capital could support. They were saying, ‘Look; we have money, we have great resources, customers are coming to us. The one thing that’s missing is talent. How the hell do I find amazing people who are able to be self-directed, who understand what it’s like to work in this environment, to really push through ambiguity and just constantly make progress?”

So over and over again, we’ve heard from companies, “We really need a specific mindset and approach. We need people to be acculturated and ready to adapt in this environment.” And at the same time with these companies talking about their needs to us, my job especially was to be lout in the community and out in Boston just talking to people about how Tech Stars can be a better platform and how it can do a better job connecting people within the community.

So over and over and over again, a common question popped up which was: how do I find a job at a startup? I’m technical but I’m not sure what I want or I have QA experience but not development experience. Or especially on the non-technical side which bios, “Hey, I hear every day that startups just need engineers. I’m not technical; I have a marketing background, I have an arts background. How do I break in, how do I find a job? Can you help me?”

So we put some of these pieces together; what we did was put together a program. The curriculum was based entirely on the hiring needs for all of these high-growth companies. We set up an application process and an admissions process which has evolved to help understand what people’s motivations were, understand their level of approachability, understand their intentions and expectations and really help bring them through this program and help them find an incredibly awesome job at a great startup.

We started here in Boston - We’re on different locations on the webinar - but we started here in Boston; we have programs that also run in New York City and Chicago. We’ll have a program off the ground in Berlin as of next Monday. Something that might be unique components here with us is that there are actually 4 tracks that are part of the program. Web development is a huge, huge component as is product design and product development. We also have technical marketing which is a huge area for a lot of high-growth companies, and sales and account management which contrary to many people’s belief is an incredibly critical place for companies to invest in to grow.

We developed a program called Ramp Up which also helps people without technical skills really get up a ramp; in a skill ramp for 3 to 4 months to the point where they’re ready to join our fulltime web development program and propel themselves into that job.

I think we’re proud – I know we’re proud at some of the results we’ve been able to push, and I’m certainly happy to talk about and happy to introduce Jerome later on.  But over 90% of our grads are going on to work at startups after the program. We are just totally psyched about that. That is why we are here. Early on, we said hey, we can really help companies grow and we can help change the way companies do professional development and bring in people but that’s really shifted into us being able to say, hey, you know what? We’re really here to help people find jobs they love. We’re really here to help folks be fulfilled in their career. We know that within startups, people can really work with purpose and that’s ultimately what we want to push people into doing.

That’s basically my spiel. I apologize if it’s a little bit awkward talking into a screen where I view myself. It’s sort of strange but… I’m happy to kick into Q&A mode if there are questions, or Kailey or Liz, if I missed anything I’m happy to jump back to that.


Liz: We’ve got a question from Adam in the audience.

Adam: Hi, I was wondering – two questions. Cold you say a little bit more about how the tracks work, like how they interact or how the overlap. The second question; when you think about successful applicants in the past, what makes someone stand out to even get in, in the first place?

Aaron: Number one, what’s up with these 4 tracks? How do they work together, what’s my experience like when I’m in the program? Two, what makes a stellar participant and applicant in Startup Institute?

Number one, when we designed the program, a lot of this was designed by us literally going out and hiring managers to founders to CEOs, people at different levels at different stage companies and saying, “Hey, when you’re hiring an engineer, what’re you looking for? When you’re hiring a marketer, what’re you looking for?” We worked with probably 30, 35 companies and the responses varied. On the one hand, you had an overwhelming amount of responses that were really focused on harder technical skills like, okay; I want people to understand Rails. I need people to pair program, I need people to understand Github really well…” and I’m like, okay, this is great; really hard skill-focused.

On the other hand, people are saying “I really want my engineers to be able to talk to customers. I want them to be able to work with product people; I want them to understand what marketing is doing. I’d actually like for the to be able to talk to the sales folks and help sales do a better in speaking about our product and how we implement it with customers.”

So you’ve got a lot of technical skills and a lot of soft skills. So I said, okay, if we build this in a vacuum and we build a program that’s only teaching development to engineers, we’re going to miss out on all this amazing stuff that companies are literally telling us this is what they look for when they look to hire people.

So the tracks work really closely together. We do a lot of collaborative work. Every person on the program participates in a project team for the duration of the program; project teams are cross-disciplinary so we’ve got engineers working with product peopled working with marketers working with sales people, all focused on the same project.

So it’s really providing that real life experience where people are saying, “Okay, I came out of the program and yes, I was in the web development track and yeah, I worked with the customers, I spoke to marketing, we collaborated with products…”

There’s a couple of components that make a good applicant for us we were actually going through an exercise pretty similar to this recently. If you looked across all of our graduates, I’d say a huge, huge, huge component of what we’re looking for is coachibility; we want to understand how adaptable people are. We want to understand how comfortable they are with change, how comfortable they are without really knowing where they’re headed but still being able to make progress against something.

We want to understand when they were in some areas in the past and they wanted to go differently, what could somebody have said to change their mind? How could they have received different coaching to push them in a different direction?

The other thing that we look for is aptitude. We’re of the belief – and this is largely shared within our network of 250 or so partners across the country and globe at this point – companies can teach people hard skill when they have a good foundation; and I think that’s what a lot of the boot camps out there today, us included, are trying to do, it just trying to really build a strong foundation for people.

But companies and we as well are looking at aptitude for learning; we want to see how quickly you can learn something, how quickly you can prove that you can go out, learn, implement, understand where you made mistakes, learn, implement, understand and repeat that cycle. For us, what that does is ultimately show to our partners that these people, while they might not have the exact hard skill set that you’re looking for today, they are absolutely aligned culturally, they are tuned in to your environment and they have an aptitude for learning and they’re going to be able to succeed with your company.


Liz: Very cool. Thank you for those answers. Mitchell has a question about the make-up of your students so I’m going to unmute him and let him ask that.

Mitchell: Good evening Aaron and Liz; thank you very much. I was just curious; what is your largest target market? Is it recently graduated students or career changers and does that matter or make a difference to the course tracks?

Aaron: That’s a good question. What’s the largest segment of our students and does that matter or impact their ability to participate in the program and specific tracks?

The largest segment for us is professionals in transition as we would call them; career changers. These are folks who like many of you I’m sure, are really considering what they’re doing in their career, where they’re headed, what they care about, what they love, what they truly enjoy doing. Many people follow a path of I graduate from college, I take a job because it’s the first one available and my parents put pressure on me. And two years later I realize I’m burnt out god damn, and I’m taking a new job. I’m so anxious to get out of my first job that I just take the next one that’s available to me.

Not too long after that I start to recognize, hmm…this job looks an awful lot like the first one, and a lot of the things I complained about in my first job I’m also experiencing here – and that sucks because I just made a change.

So for us, a large portion of our students are folks coming off of that and they’re saying, “Okay, I’ve got a couple of options in front of me. I could go to business school, I could do a more formal graduate school program, I could go travel for a year and explore and find myself and discover what I care about and understand where I fit into the world. Or I could stay in the status quo and sort of ride it out.”

I think what brings a lot of people together in our program is that common bond that they were really trying to find themselves and were having a really hard time doing that on their own.

Their ability to participate in specific tracks based on what their background is, is less tied to the stage of their career and more tied to their current experience and what they expect to get out of the program.

I think a good example would be if I’m a recent graduate who’s ultimately coming straight out of school or maybe I’ve worked for a year at an agency or something like that, I shouldn’t expect to come to startup Institute and be hired as the VP of acquisition marketing at a really rapidly growing company earning $200,000 a year. I should expect to leave the program, have multiple job offers and have those be at levels and roles that are tight for me and are going to provide a platform and growth opportunity, earning depending on the market from $50,000 to $80,000. I think if you’re coming out later and you say I’m 29 or I’m 30; instead of going to business school, I’m taking this opportunity to really define myself, develop a new professional network, a new family, people you can count on. Also to tell my story to the world, what I want to focus on.

We definitely have instances where people are hired at executive levels, VP levels, earning much more money than I earn and much more money than other folks in our company earn. It’s awesome to see that happen; it’s really tied to where people have come from and what their expectations are coming out of it.


Liz: Awesome. We’re going to take one last question from Rico- is a bachelor’s degree required to join Startup Institute?

Aaron: No.


Liz: Thank you so much, Aaron. I am going to change it over to Kailey who’s going to give us some tips on how to actually get a job at a startup.

Aaron: Thank you Liz and thank you, everybody.


Kailey: Cool. Hi everybody; my name is Kailey. I’m am associate director here at startup Institute, mainly working with components of the program and I’m also an alum, so I definitely know what the experience is like as a student, so feel free to ask any of those questions.

I’ll be walking through some more tactical and practical skills in order to win that job at a startup. We teach a lot of our students these skills in the first couple of weeks of the program so hopefully, you’ll pick up some new ones.

I guess starting out, talking a little bit more about Aaron was saying about what people are looking for when they join a startup company. They’re looking for somebody who’s willing to learn. Somebody who is willing to put their all into those organizations and really optimize for learning. So a growth mindset is really what we call that at a startup. That’s certainly something that is super important because things are changing and your role now has changed and that certainly has a lot to do your ability, willingness and capacity to learn quickly.

Another thing that startups are looking for is emotional intelligence and I think Aaron also touched on this. It’s part of our core curriculum in order to put some color around the difference between an IQ and an EQ. Emotional intelligence has a lot more to do with self-awareness, with communication skills. So emotional intelligence is really what sets a lot of people apart in terms of becoming a part of a startup. It’s really one of those things that we focus on here at Startup Institute.

there’s tons of articles online that you can read that have a lot more to do with the importance of that and how they link up to a startup.

I think that one of the last things that we’re really looking for at startups is just a pay it forward attitude. So it’s somebody who is willing and ready to be what we call a go-giver. One of your students actually came up with this term but we really like it. It basically means that you’re willing to share your network. You have a pay it forward attitude; when somebody asks a question, you also ask how can I help?

Always having that attitude of mutual respect and understanding that you are constantly learning and constantly giving back.

These are just some of the bullet points but certainly learning, risk-taking and paying it forward are a few of the keys to take away from this.

Next, which is a little bit more technical/practical is how do you even know if a startup is hiring?

The number one thing that’s really a great indicator to know if they’re hiring or not is if they’ve raised a round of funding. That means that they are building a new product; that means that they are working on sales or they have found product market fit and that they are probably hiring at a more rapid rate.

Some of the different main sources from which you can find out if a company is indeed hiring are Angelist and Cruncbase. I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with these websites. Angelist, you can search regionally and these are typically early stage startups that you’ll be finding on there so you can definitely look at some of the really cool things that are coming up.

Crunchbase is actually Tech Crunch’s database; so any of you Tech Crunch fans out there, if you have been reading any of the news all of that data gets logged into Crunchbase. What happens is you can search the really cool parameters like within average distance to a certain area code; funding dates so you can understand the most recent funding rounds and also the ones that are relevant based on where you are geographically. That’s a really cool tool that I would definitely recommend.

And then I guess the one thin g to remember, there’s a caveat to this and that caveat is that startups are always looking for great people. So despite the fact that they may not have raced around recently, if you are a great fit both culturally and in terms of what their product is and you share their passion and their vision, they might try and make room for you.

Startups are always looking for great people and it’s always a great idea to put your best forward and get to know the network.

We’ll go a little bit more into understanding how to see which roles they’re hiring for and I’ll run through the story quickly. A business model canvass is a great way to understand a little bit more about the company. What are their key partners or key resources, what relationships do they have, how are they getting revenue?

If you understand the way a company runs, it’s going to give you insight into what they’re hiring for. Once you figure out the way a company runs their different revenue streams, go to their team page. Figure you what different roles they have. What is the number of people in client services? Do they have a really big developer team? You can probably find the gaps on their team.

One of the really unique things with startups is that they’re probably going to list every single person in their company - and maybe even the company dog on their team page; so you’ll definitely be able to figure out who’s who in it and figure out where you might fit. So this is a good way to find the gaps and where you fit in, in terms of what their business model actually is.

You can find this online, I think it’s It’s a good resource for you to be able to figure out where you fit in.

One of the very important things when you actually figure out is if in fact they are hiring and what they might be hiring for is how you fit into that. So take a self-assessment. What skills do you currently have? What projects have you been working on? What was your previous role in the company that you were working for? If you were in school, what classes did you take and what did you learn in them? So take an inventory of your current skill set. That’s super important; hopefully it will align with a lot of the roles that you are seeking.

What you have to do is find your sweet spot so the intersection of where you're are an expert, what skills you have, what you’re really great at, what you really love doing. So what are you enthusiastic about? What have you always been naturally gifted in? What makes you tick; what makes you happy? So ideally, finding a job at a startup that you love is all about finding a place in which you can give your expertise but also align it with something that you really love to do with enthusiasm.

Hopefully, based on the fact that you’re taking inventory of your skills, and understanding what you’re really good at naturally and from your studies and past work experiences, you can begin to craft an ideal job description. I think that there are three things that are really important when crafting this:

First as we talked about, take that inventory of what industries do you have our connections in and what you understand really well. What functional role do you see yourself in? Are you a marketing manager? Do you love data? Where do you fit? And then what is the work environment and culture like?

That is something that is extremely important and not to be overlooked, particularly in a startup environment. What is the work environment like? Is it a work hard, play hard culture as many startups will say? Or are they more quiet and heads-down and have on their headphones on all day? What are the things are important to you?

So if you can write down these three things, you’re crafting a really good description of the kinds of companies that you’re looking to seek. So:

Areas of expertise,
Functional roles
Work environment/culture

Three pints of what make the ideal job description.

After that, figuring out what you have been doing, what you’d be interested in doing and then finding the gap. So I think that for us, a lot of people have been saying, “We’re on a career change; who’ve been in finance or consulting or nonprofit” or wherever they’re coming from for a few years and they really liked it but they’re interested in finding something that they’re a little bit more passionate about and they’re understanding that there’s a gap. So they’re coming to our program for 8 weeks to fill that gap with both hard and soft skills and also a network to help them succeed.

So I think that’s in many ways what our students are doing – but there are so many ways to help fill that gap. So do something that is going to help you in your own career Trajectory. Does that make sense?

And you actually have to start looking, right? There’s definitely a few things that you have to do in order to start looking for a new job. Resumes are actually really important, but I would say more important than a resume is LinkedIn, especially in tech and startups. LinkedIn is probably the first thing that’s going to be shooting over in terms of position to see if they’re qualified. So definitely make sure that what you’re looking for is skills that align with the jobs that you’re seeking.

LinkedIn – also a hot tip with that is to make sure that you have a unique URL; not everybody does that. They have jumbled numbers and letters after but you can actually create Super important if you want to put it on a business card or anything.

And then always have something you’re passionate about. We talked earlier about doing the assessment; do you have a project that you’re working on? Can you start talking about it at networking events? So filling that gap and understanding your trajectory; have something you’re actively doing to make yourself better to get to the place where you need to be.

And then last, this is probably the most important thing for networking events next to putting your personal brand out there – really nailing your personal pitch. We definitely make this a key component of our program in the first 2 weeks. I’ll go up to all my students and ask them about their personal pitch on the spot for a few weeks until they have it absolutely nailed.

Basically, you can think of this as your 30-second pitch of who you are, what you’re doing and what you want to be doing next. Tell your story; make sure you add elements of where you came from, what you’re doing today, why it’s important to them and what you ultimately want to be doing. This is your key at networking events to be able to succeed and make really good connections.

Some hot tips: Actually start looking; that is definitely really important in a job search. Super important for us, we make sure that all of our students are actively going out to networking events, local ones on a weekly basis; we recommend at least two per week. {34:55 Inaudible} are probably the best resources that we know of to find all of those local events but within your region there are certainly ones that are really localized but within Chicago or Boston those are two that we’re quite familiar with.

Attending those local networking events really have to do with your specific interest and skill set. So if you’re interested in being a Rails developer, go to a Rails meet-up; understand who’s in the ecosystem. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never tried it before, go meet them, talk to them; get a better understanding of what it’s actually like to do that.

The part about doing the research before is also super important because most of these event sites actually list who’s going to be in attendance. If you can pick three names before and just have a strategy, go in and introduce yourself to those three people. That could be the difference between having success at a networking event and standing in the corner. It’ll give you more of a prompt to be able to succeed.

Never leaving a meeting without intros is all about you making connections and making sure that you are making your personal brand known. So be sure that going to networking events, everybody’s looking to meet people and they’re also looking to make connections between people.

Oftentimes, the person you’re talking to isn’t going to be immediately important to what you’re seeking – but their friend might be. So figuring out a little more about them and who they might know is also super valuable.

One thing that is different about startups is that a lot of them are looking for volunteers or interns and that can be important in your career. There’s always work to be done, so being very open to starting new projects. Maybe this is your projects that help you with your trajectory and your career. Being willing to volunteer for these companies for a couple of months to gain a skill set and actually understand the culture of a startup could be really great. I’m sure if they have a great time with you on their team, they’d be more willing to facilitate those introductions as well.

So get to know them because they didn’t know that they were hiring until they met somebody like you, and the first step is actually getting out there and meeting the people.

So some really tactical tips and tricks. I used to be a terrible networker – it’s true. But then I gaining confidence and meeting a lot of people who are just so helpful. So never underestimating who somebody is and how you can help each other is probably the best tip I can give anybody at a networking event. You might not think that you have anything in common and it turns out that there’s a whole world of possibilities and ways that you can work together. Even if today isn’t valuable for you, maybe two years from now they’re starting something that is super exciting and the fact that you have that relationship helps you in the future.

So finding common ground, taking interest in what they’re saying, definitely asking a lot of questions is obviously super important.

Here’s a funny one but a tactical one – always having something in your hand; having a glass of water or a beer or whatever at a networking event in your hand actually makes you less nervous and you don’t feel awkward. Hands were never so strange until you don’t know what to do with them at a networking event. So always having something in your hand, a crumpled up napkin or a beer seems to help with nerves, at least, so try that next time you’re out there.

And then a really simple one: Starting conversations can be really hard and stressful; you don’t know who to talk to. Really, just go up to anybody. Everybody is there; they’re there to meet you. They’re looking to meet people in tech and startups. So a simple “Hey, my name is Kailey; what brings you here?” that’s the easiest way to start a conversation. That’s honestly the best tip and trick I can give around actually starting it.

Once you’re in the conversation; you’re having that good talk and you’re 20 minutes in and you’re totally blanked on their name and they’re about to leave; don’t ever forget somebody’s name – just ask them. It’s never offensive if you say, ‘Hey, I totally forgot your name but I really want to remember you so what’s your name again?” That is honestly going to make them feel really great. So just ask them; ask them for their contact info, ask them for their name so that you do remember that conversation that you had.

It’s really important that if you have one genuine conversation, know that it’s better off than if you talked to 10 people for 30 seconds. A lot of people go into a networking event and they try to meet everybody in the room but we found that the most effective way to actually go into these rooms is to meet one person and have a really genuine conversation with them for 20, 30 minutes and really get to know them. If you do that, you’ve been successful.

The one thing about networking events that is probably hardest to remember is following up. So you go, you have these conversations but it honestly didn’t do anything for you unless you have a follow up conversation. So grab their contact info, grab their email, their phone number and make sure that you follow up. It’s crucial; otherwise the relationship ended that night.

Some more really, really tactical practical things: One of the things that we teach our students is that there’s a huge difference between warm emails and cold emails. Warm emails are from somebody that’s a mutual contact. I know somebody who you want to know; ask me to introduce you, that’s a warm introduction and it’s always better to get a warm introduction than just send a cold email. It gives you more clout; somebody’s more likely to open that email.

So if you are looking to meet somebody from a company and one of your friends knows somebody who works there, ask them if they can give you an introduction. It’s definitely going to help you get in the door a little bit quicker.

So cold emails obviously not preferred but don’t worry; you can totally do them. Cracking them is also super important to networking and ensure that you are meeting some great people, so don’t fear cold emails. If you can’t get a warm introduction, please always do a cold email.

Always keep the short and sweet, so it’s three lines; that’s pretty much the maximum with emails. People tend to blank out if you give them really long ones so make sure to keep them really short.

Some really cool tools that we love here at Startup Institute, we can walk through each of them for a couple of minutes – I would really encourage you guys to all write these down and definitely install them; they’re all Gmail plugins so they’re really cool applications.

The first one is called Yesware; it allows you to create email templates. It allows you to BCC to CRM systems. But really fun and really cool is that it allows you to track when somebody has opened your email.

This is really cool when you’re sending all those warm emails or cold emails to be able to see if somebody’s actually even reading it.

So I’m sure that we’ve all experienced this where you send an email and you haven’t heard back and you don’t know why. With Yesware, you can actually see if they’ve even opened it.  An interesting way to use that is if you have noticed that they’ve opened your email, if you can hit them at the moment in which they’ve opened your email, then you know they’re in and cranking on some work so they’re more likely to open it. It’s a really useful tool that we train all our students to use. It can definitely help with a lot of stress that goes with emailing, so I definitely recommend it.

Rapportive is also one that we use every single day here. It allows you to figure out anybody ion the world’s email address. It pops up a profile of somebody right next to their email address with their picture, all of the social profiles from LinkedIn to Twitter, etc., if you get it right. If you get it wrong, none of the information will show up.

You can figure out somebody’s email address by the fact that certain social links are actually connected to it and Rapportive will show you that.

The best way to reach anybody at a startup is their first name @ their company So you can definitely test that out and I’m sure you can test out all the other combinations of names as well on Rapportive.

Chorlio send you reports of all of the different meetings that you have going on that day an hour before they happen. So you have a phone call with somebody, it’ll send you an email of all of their tweets, what they’ve been up to with their company so you have really relevant things to talk about and really engage them in a conversation that’s meaningful. So it’s a really great tool for particularly sales people, nut really anybody.

Boomerang is the last one, which is fun and it basically allows you to schedule emails. I don’t know if there’s anybody who’s a really late crowd out there, working until 1 or 2 a.m. but you can schedule your emails to actually send in the morning, 7 a.m., be the first person up. It’s a really cool tool in different environments. Not everybody likes to send an email late at night so Boomerang can allow you to schedule the time, impress the boss and say you send them at 7 a.m. – well, Boomerang did but you were good enough to set it up.

Those are four really awesome plugins that we totally recommend and that I use myself every single day.

Again, with an email, short and sweet. All you have to do is say who you are, what you’re doing, why it’s relevant to the person that you’re trying to email. then if you’d like to meet them, always have an ask in the email. If you’d like to meet them, have a really specific date and time. “I’d like to meet you at your office at any time or at a coffee shop around you between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m.” Be very specific do people can say yes or no.

The last one is really all about community. I think that Aaron talked about this earlier; what we do is really leverage and develop communities and we’re looking for students to help do that as well.

Being a part of ecosystems and actually being able to get a job at a startup has to do with the people that you know. So building out community relationships, knowing the ecosystem, being able to talk about it in an educated way, knowing who locally has been funded; that’s really going to set you apart. It’s going to make you seem like you really know what’s going on; you’re really abreast of what’s happening. So keeping on top of that, going to all these networking events, making sure people know you, you’re going to become top of mind when they have a position open.

Keeping yourself open to the startup community through all of the different things that we’ve talked about today really has to do with your long-term strategy and being a part of this ecosystem.

I think that is really all that I have today, Liz. I know we’re going to go on to Jerome soon so…


Liz: Thank you so much, Kailey; that was awesome. I feel like a lot of those Gmail plugins, I’m gonna go download immediately! Very cool.

I have a couple of questions from some of our audience members. One is from Paul but he doesn’t have a microphone so I’m going to read it: What is the experience of international students getting jobs after finishing the program and have they been able to get assistance? Have you had any experience with that?

Kailey: We have international students go through every single program. We do not ourselves sponsor any visas so that has a lot to do with the student who’s coming in. We have had success with international students getting jobs at startups and companies after graduation. It is more difficult, to be super frank, but we never discourage international students from going through our programs and attending.

We also have options for abroad now, so Berlin and London; those are definitely great options. Great question; always have international students, yes we have had success, yes it is more difficult.


Liz: Cool. Kamal asked does Startup Institute help with choosing a track if you’re confused about which track to choose?

Kailey: Yes; absolutely. We look at our interview process a lot as a discovery phase. You may have applied to our web development track because you’re really interested a little bit more about how to code. Through the process we put you through, we ask you to do some homework or something, you realize that it might not be the right track for you. Well, that doesn’t eliminate you from our process.

We like to recommend other tracks to people based on conversations that we have, what they’ve done, what they’re looking for. Definitely we encourage anybody to apply, take your best guess at what track, let us know that in the interview process that you’re interested in a couple of different tracks and we can talk to all of them.


Liz: Awesome! We’re going to pass it on to Jerome now. Thank you so much, Kailey. Hi, Jerome.

We’re really excited to hear about your story and your experience. I’ve got a question that someone sent me in an email, so if you can answer it in your talk, I feel like it really applies to you: how has Startup Institute helped you develop your brand and develop your pitch so that you could talk to startups. And also, what your final project was and what you were actually able to accomplish. So those are just a couple of things to think about and I will give you the mike.

Jerome: Okay, great. I guess I’ll start a little bit about what I was doing before I got into Startup Institute. Actually, I’ll start with school. I went to the University of Missouri, studied business and economics and after school; I really wasn’t looking forward to work. So I was fortunate enough to be able to travel for about a year and a half and really, I was kind of delaying the inevitable.

Eventually, the time came when I had to come back and get a job. I was able to get a job as an analyst at a brokerage firm which was okay for a while. A lot of heavy Excel-based work and that was fine for a little while but I got bored with it pretty quickly.

I was always a little bit of a computer geek and always tried to be interested in what was going on with this code craze that I’d been hearing about. So I {52:28 inaudible} and building lout my first app.

And right about the time I finished with that, I had read an ad – I believe it was the tribune or it was Tech Crunch. It wasn’t really an ad, actually; it was more of a story about startup Institute and I thought it would be really awesome so I reached out and was able to get my first interview with them and I was able to get in and it was really awesome.

I was in the web development track and…gosh, where do I begin? It’s like a nonstop whirl for 8 weeks; you’re going incredibly hard, harder than you ever thought you could but it’s great, you’re learning things the whole time, you’re networking, you’re meeting amazing people and you’re really just learning – it’s amazing.

One of the most fun things and also I thought one of the most important things that goes on in the program is your partner project. I was able to get with a company called Mobile XYX and what they do is build mobile apps; basically a lot of different games and they try to hop on different trends and make things that are really popular, and that was a really fun experience. The people who work there are great. It was really awesome just to be around their developers and be around the owners of the company and get to watch them actually make deals.

They secured a large round of funding while we were there; being able to watch them and listen to them negotiate some of the things while that was going on was really helpful. So that was great.

Another thing that was really important – and every student’s going to go through this is called the talent expo, demo day, kind of, sort of. If you ever attended a demo day for startups, it’s basically a demo day except for you’re representing yourself instead of representing a company. They put you in a room full of hundreds of people who run companies or represent people who are looking to hire, and you give a pitch about yourself and why you think you would be the right candidate for their company.

That’s a great exercised and building up your confidence as well as building up your own personal pitch for your brand. Because if you draw on more and more of these networking events, you’re going to find yourself pitching yourself very often because you’re meaning to apply to new people and none of these people know anything about you. So you’re going to end up saying the same thing over and over. You may as well get good at it and make it sound nice so that people actually enjoy talking to you. So they’ll help you out with that and get you a lot more confident about networking, which is very, very important.

Getting a job after the program… I was very fortunate enough to be able to land a job with this very awesome company called Earlybird. We’re a software development company, basically a dev shop. We work with a whole lot of different clients, everything from small nonprofits to large oil companies down in Texas, doing all kinds of different projects.

It’s been an eye-opening experience. I’ve gotten to learn a whole lot about various aspects of the business because it’s a very small company, so I kind of play more than just a web developer; I do a lot more other things as well.

It’s great. It’s almost like you’re owning a business but you don’t really have to deal with the other things over your head – but you are responsible for a lot. So it’s a really great process that helps you grow as a person and as an employee overall, it definitely makes you more valuable.

I’m not sure if I’ve covered everything because I kind of started talking, and it is really weird with me looking at myself the whole time, so if there’s anything that I’ve forgotten or anyone that has any questions, I’d love to answer them.


Liz: Jerome, did you find your job through the demo day or did you do it on your own?

Jerome: It was kind of a mixture of both. Before the demo day I had set a coffee date with the head of operations of our company and that went really well. And after the demo day, I was able to meet with our technical director and set up an interview with him from there. So it was kind of a mixture of both. I met the technical director at the demo day but I’d been talking with them.


Liz: Very cool. Did you feel like during the Startup Institute program that you did that you were being prepared for that, for those interviews and for those pitches?

Jerome: Oh, 100%; 100%. They give us lots of different opportunities to mock interviews and you also got feedback on those interviews and what you need to work on, so you knew exactly what you needed help on and areas where you can improve.

And also, throughout the program, you’re very likely to be going on real interviews at the same time as well. Your first ones may be a little shaky because most likely you’re going to be entering a new field so as a first-time web developer, you have no idea what to expect. But if you go on more and more of them, you’re going to get more and more confident; you’re going to know what to expect and you’re going to get better. So you’ll definitely be very well prepared throughout your time at Startup Institute.


Liz: Very cool. One last question: What did your day to day at Startup institute look like? Kamal had that question.

Jerome: We would get there in the morning; I’m not sure if it was 9:30 or 10:30 but either way, it’s kind of irrelevant. So we would get there and have a stand-up meeting; we would talk about what we were going to do for that day. That would usually last not very long, about 10 minutes maybe.

Then from there we would have about 2 hours in tracks, so each of the 4 tracks with time to split up and each do their own thing for about an hour or two hours. After that we would come back and we would all have an all-hands. We would all get together and go over our lessons that way for about 2 hours, learn various things and have people come in and give us presentations; maybe some CEO of So-and-so Company would come in and talk to us about what it’s like to be a CEO. Those happen pretty regularly, almost every day and that would go on for another couple of hours.

Then we do lunch; after that we’d come back and have another hour or so of in-track work. At the end of that it was usually wither someone would come in and give us a talk or we would have a presentation about something or there was a networking event that we were encouraged to attend.


Liz: Very cool. Thank you so much Jerome, that was awesome; it was good to hear your success story. Love to hear what you’re up to in the future.

Jerome: Awesome; thanks for having me.


Liz: No problem. Everyone thanks so much for joining Course Report and Startup Institute for this webinar. Aaron and Kailey, we can’t thank you enough for being here. If you have any additional questions for Startup Institute, please send any of your questions to info@startup and I’ll be sending out the contact info after this. If you have any questions about Course Report, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me and we will send out a recording of this webinar so you can check your inboxes for that and share it with your friends who might not have been able to attend.

Please visit and sign up for an email request and you will get all of our future updates on webinars and interviews and all of that good stuff.

Thanks everyone for joining and we will see you at the next webinar.

About The Author

Liz is the cofounder of Course Report, the most complete resource for students researching coding bootcamps. Her research has been cited in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, and more. She loves breakfast tacos and spending time getting to know bootcamp alumni and founders all over the world. Check out Liz & Course Report on Twitter, Quora, and YouTube!

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