When I was a sophomore in college, a colleague had an idea to create the largest online student academic database. Similar to Wikipedia, the startup would give students the opportunity to publish their intellectual property (such as essays or notes), which would help other users researching similar topics. So I pitched some marketing strategies for fun, and before I knew it, I was part of Course Hero's venture-backed startup team.
The best part about working for a startup is the excitement of shaping a growing company. As Course Hero's VP-marketing, I was able to personally strategize the company's marketing campaigns. In order to embed Course Hero into college student social norms, I leveraged social media and even hosted promotional bar tabs. These fun tactics were crucial to building a foundation of users who would virally promote the website to their peers.
There are smaller corporate hierarchies at startups, so most of the employees can represent their department externally. This is by far one of the best ways to develop a professional network. When exploring joint ventures or pitching Course Hero to be sold in media plans, I had the opportunity to meet many marketing executives. Additionally, the smaller hierarchy allows employees to have broader responsibilities. Regardless of job titles, employees are encouraged to make suggestions and start projects outside of their direct responsibilities. This is a great way to get hands-on experience and learn about different types of positions. My experience involved everything from strategizing campaigns to Photoshopping advertisements and even directing a commercial.
So if this all sounds good, then I have better news. Even in the midst of the sour economy, startups are still recruiting. This is because they frequently offer employee stock options that may only be exercised if the company becomes successful. When interviewing for these jobs, try offering a few of your own business suggestions, as I did. Before you know it, you may be marketing for your own startup.
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