It takes a village to raise a startup — or at least a few dedicated individuals who can do a village’s worth of work. At a growing company, roles and duties can change quickly, and many startup employees end up wearing a lot of hats as they tackle the most important needs for the business at any given moment.
Here’s a glance at some of the key roles and skill sets that drive most startups.
The founder is the person (or people) who starts the company. Some founders, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg or Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, stay with the organization for long, or permanently, after it takes off. However, it’s not uncommon for a founder to leave at any stage of the startup’s life. Founders come from diverse career backgrounds, but what they all have in common is an entrepreneurial spirit, some level of business acumen, and a clear product vision. Startup founders don’t need to be experts in web development, UX design, or the other disciplines below, but they should have a high-level understanding of the key skills needed to launch a tech-driven business. In order to see their vision through, founders should be strong leaders who can guide their company through funding, staffing, and scaling.
While designers create the professional look and feel of a website or web app, web developers generate the code that makes it work. The technology that supports eCommerce sites, blogs, social networks, video streaming services, and more is built by developers.
- Popular job titles: Chief technology officer, VP of engineering, senior web developer, junior web developer, software developer, full-stack engineer, mobile developer
User Experience (UX) Design
A UX designer determines the interaction experience of a user with a website, app, device, or piece of software. It’s all about anticipating a user’s needs when using a product, and ensuring an intuitive, impactful, and delightful experience.
- Key skills: User research, interaction design, interface design, wireframing, prototyping, usability testing, customer journey mapping, card sorting, information architecture, affinity mapping, service design, product design, collaboration, working with clients
- Popular job titles: UX designer, user interface (UI) designer, product designer, user researcher, information architect
Product managers are like mini CEOs. They are responsible for identifying market opportunities, defining the product being built, and determining the return on investment. They conduct customer interviews, user testing, and data analysis, and distill the insights gained into an implementable strategy. They then lead the product team to bring that strategy to life.
- Key skills: Customer development, Agile and Lean methodologies, SWOT analysis, communication, prototyping, user interviews, wireframing and storyboarding, business model design, market research, project management, pricing and financial modeling
- Popular job titles: Chief product officer, product manager, product lead, product owner
Data Science and Analysis
Data experts organize and collect data from a variety of sources, evaluate it, derive insights from it, and make actionable recommendations to drive the business.
- Key skills: Python, machine learning, SQL, UNIX, Git, R, Tableau, Excel, modeling techniques, data visualization, big data, natural language processing, statistics, critical thinking, storytelling and presentation skills
- Popular job titles: Data scientist, data analyst, quantitative researcher, machine learning engineer, data science analyst, data engineer.
Digital marketers combine traditional marketing tactics with new technologies. Their domains include areas like social media, search engine optimization, online advertising, and content creation. The best digital marketers often utilize both creative and quantitative skills.
- Key skills: Email marketing, branding, content strategy, social media, paid social, customer relationship management (CRM), search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), marketing analytics, business strategy
- Popular job titles: Chief marketing officer, director of digital marketing, digital marketing manager, email marketing manager, digital marketing coordinator, content producer, content marketer, content strategist, social media manager
How to Land a Job at a Startup
Working in the startup world can be one of the most challenging, exhilarating, sometimes heartbreaking, and oftentimes fulfilling journeys of your life. But landing an opportunity at a startup is about more than luck. In order to break in, it helps to know the ins and outs of the startup world, and the steps to take to become a candidate who stands out from the crowd — plus some of the skills mentioned above.
In our eBook, How to Get a Job at a Startup, you’ll get a concise how-to guide for finding your dream job at a startup, through the knowledge of startup job-hunters, founders, and employers. Discover firsthand tips on how to break into a startup career, clear up confusing industry jargon, and learn about important resources that will aid you on your journey.
General Assembly believes that everyone should be empowered to pursue work they love. We hope you’ll find this book to be a helpful first step in getting there yourself.
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