Faculty Recruiting Support CICS

Join a Startup

Startups are computing for the common good

If we tried to think of a good idea, we wouldn't have been able to think of a good idea. You just have to find the solution for a problem in your own life. Brian Chesky, Co-founder of Airbnb

Startups vary widely, but are all motivated by their mission. From new and bootstrapped startups exploring their product-market-fit to unicorns who are making headlines with big investments, startups share similar characteristics. Most have between 1 and 1,000 employees and are growing quickly. They are often only a few years old, although small, stable employers often resemble startups. Boston has an impressive entrepreneurship ecosystem and a mix of industries. From Silicon Valley to the Pioneer Valley, you can discover startups and small employers that match your interests and values.

startups Aren't for everyone

  • Less prestige and name recognition that might give a better career foundation, but passion and purpose to try and change the world
  • Riskier career choice since startups often less stable and eventually fail, but Startups that can succeed through difficult economic periods are often ready to thrive (see Uber and Groupon)
  • Coworkers and managers tend to be less experienced, but startup way of life with vibrant close-knit culture and colleagues as friends
  • Work hard, play hard mentality with less work-life balance and often more stress, but less hierarchy and rules tends to attract creative risk-takers 
  • Pressure to be a generalist instead of a specialist to meet the broad business needs, but this opportunity to "wear multiple hats" allows taking on new projects even if you would  need to learn new skills as you go
  • Lack of resources and defined processes for training, but personalized professional development and mentorship which can accelerate your growth
  • Initial compensation tends to be lower than big tech and stock options are hard to value, but variable upside from growth (i.e., faster promotions), acquisitions and IPOs (stocks go from $0 value to real money)

Finding startups

CICS students and alumni work at and even lead many different startups, as shown by our Destination Dashboard and MS Career Paths. From our Tech Fair in September to the Startup Recruiting Night in April, connecting with a startup is as easy as registering for an event. Many sponsor hackathons including Hack(H)er413 and HackUMass for less formal recruiting interactions. 

Boston has many innovative startups, including incubators like Greentown Labs.  Want West Coast? Y Combinator is one of many venture organizations. To find startups in your favorite zip code, try AngelList or Handshake employers. Also, use Twitter's suggestions on who to follow to find related startups.

Startup hiring Process

Startup hiring is highly dependent on timing, often occurring anytime they receive new funding, which is why you can find startup opportunities year-round including late spring. Startups look for quick learners who can contribute right away.  At larger startups, you may interview with a recruiter, but in smaller ones, you may interview with the CEO. Many startups are founded by immigrants, so although it might take extra effort, international students with CPT or OPT should explain their work authorization and specialized skills that justify the hiring effort. 

Research extensively to understand their culture. Networking is an essential skill when approaching startups since founders want to be convinced that you are passionate about their mission and would work well with their team. When applying, tailor your resume to showcase your culture add, and notify any employees you've met that you applied in case they want to help. 

Startups should pay for your work, even for internships (school credit instead of pay is not an option). You could choose to volunteer for a startup but they need to follow FLSA.