5 Things To Do in College That Will Help You Land a Startup Job

Originally posted on February 09, 2017 on The Planted Blog and Ace Your Interview, Job Hunting and Step Up Your Search

Let’s be honest, college is generally pretty great. It’s where you make your best friends, learn a ton of cool things, and go to a lot of ridiculous parties you will probably laugh about in your old age. What it doesn’t necessarily do is actually prepare you for the real world and adult life. If you want to be prepared for life after graduation, it’s best to start thinking about this early on in your college career. So what can you do during your time on campus to prepare yourself for the working world?!

If you think a startup job is in your future, you know that we’re always hunting for hires with applicable life skills. While many universities are currently creating entrepreneurship programs complete with classes, year-long projects, and accelerators, you don’t have to participate in one of these programs to prepare for life at a startup! No matter where you go to school, there are always plenty of opportunities to dive in and get the skills that will help you land your future dream job.

1. Work At a Student Run Business

via GIPHY

Working at a student run business won’t just pump up your resume and make you look cool. It doesn’t matter if you work at a coffee shop, a bike store, or a tech solutions business. All of these opportunities give you a chance to see firsthand what it takes to run a small business. Hustle, find your niche, develop your business skills. Get that relevant work experience! Oh, and cash money (because, like, we all gotta eat). We also happen to know a few people who took their college business endeavors and turned them into real life startups, so the possibilities are endless!

2. Lead a Fundraiser

via GIPHY

Money: we all need it. There’re many ways of getting it without robbing a bank. Startups often use fundraising rounds and even crowd funding campaigns to get more capital throughout their growth. And you know who else does that in college? Medical societies, environmental clubs, dance groups, greek life — just about any and every organization you can think of. Join one that you care about and get to work. You’ll learn tricks and techniques on how to get people to donate to your cause, and be able to add tangible numbers to your resume about how much you raised or how many people showed up for your dance marathon. Oh, and you’ll help people while you’re at it. It’s a win win.

3. Conduct Social Research

via GIPHY

It’s tough to create the perfect product that people want and are willing to pay for. Just ask any founder of a failed startup, and they’ll tell you loud and clear: you have to do your research, and you have to know your audience. Conducting comprehensive research to see what people actually want in their product, and how bad they want it is a great start. A triple-fried-bacon-donut might sound awesome to you, but that doesn’t mean the majority of people are gonna be down for that… If you wanna learn how to conduct research, work in the lab of a sociology, marketing, or organizational behavior professor! If that’s not your cup of tea, you can also take a research methods course early on. With these skills, you’ll definitely be an asset to any growing team! How’s that for adulting?

4. Join the Debate Club

via GIPHY

Got a fear of public speaking? Want to learn how to motivate and inspire people? Want to learn how to convince people (or your SO) that you’re right? Join the debate club. Not only will you learn how to speak with principle, you’ll walk away with confidence and an eloquence that’ll make even your English professor proud (let’s be real, that’s not easy). Communication, charisma, and conviction are key elements in the startup realm. If you want people to take you seriously, you gotta sound like you know what you’re talking about. Debate not your thing? What about Mock Trial, stand up comedy, improv, slam poetry, pitch competitions, or being an MC for a student run show? As long as it gets you up and articulating yourself, it’s an awesome place to start.

5. Join a Team Sport

via GIPHY

Exercise is awesome. It gives you endorphins, which make you feel happy and energized: similar to coffee, but without the crash later (Elle Woods knew what she was talking about). On top of that, team sports can teach you some valuable lessons. You’ll learn how to own up and move forward when you drop the ball (both literally and figuratively). You’ll figure out how to roll with the punches when things don’t always go as planned. And maybe most importantly, you’ll understand that you’re even though you’re not always going to win, but you’re not always going to lose, either. There is always an important lesson for growth, even in a moment of failure (or a really bad game). If that’s not a solid analogy for startup life, then we don’t know what is.


Prepare yourself for a job in a startup with any of these activities, where you’ll gain the skills that hiring managers look for (and hopefully have some fun in the process)! When you’re ready to leverage your awesome on campus experiences, sign up for Planted and jumpstart your career.


Gabriela Balicas is currently a Senior at Rice University, and the Content + Social Media Intern at Planted. Once upon a time, she studied bioengineering, but when she realized she couldn’t 3D print herself a perfect boyfriend, she decided to study sports medicine instead. When she’s not flexing in the mirror, she enjoys scrolling through drake memes and puppy videos on IG…and founding two separate clubs at her school, teaching undergrad classes, and running two successful food and photography blogs.