Grad Students: Ditch The Corporate Gig & Start With A Startup

Lately, I’ve been interviewing some really, really sharp recent grads from all sorts of great schools. Smart, insightful, quick, proactive, creative, energetic. All awesome characteristics, all currently stuck working as a cog in the machine for some major corporate. So I wonder, why? Why are all these sharp, super-competent people working at a place which is bound to grind out all the good stuff still in their veins after a few years?

It used to be in vogue when I was younger to take a year off between high school and college to “bum around Europe” or some other locale, just take time off between schools and get some life experience, because once to get back, you’re into college and then straight to career in some major corporate, ready, willing and able to climb that corporate ladder, and the rest. For some, they’ll make it to the corner office, for others, maybe not.

Here’s my suggestion: instead of going straight to that corporate job right out of college, its the perfect time to join a startup. None out there that you like? Start your own! I’ll bet that you had some great ideas in college and for some reason or another your profs crapped all over them and made you think that they were stupid or overdone or some other negative crap. Remember that FedEx was Fred Smith’s crapped upon college project, and look at it now.

This is the BEST time for you to join or start a startup – startups NEED what you have – all of the stuff I listed above, plus NOTHING gets you the all around business experience that you get from running a little startup. It’s the best experience, bar none.

And if it doesn’t work out, then you can go get your corporate gig. I say, just like “bumming around Europe” spend your first year out of college at a startup. If things aren’t moving the way you’d like after a year, then move on. But I’ll bet that you’ll chalk up more useful business and life experience in that year than in all your years at college.

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11 years ago

Just commented on linkedin that I thought it was great advice –advice given to all five sons but each one had a different ideas–no two the same. I love diversity but a break between high school and college (especially tough secondary schools like Exter etc. makes a lot of sense!)

Chris Kalaboukis
Chris Kalaboukis
11 years ago

Great idea – why not – if you can – join or start a startup instead of “bumming around Europe”? By the time you get out of high school, you might already know what you want to do…