Breaking into Consumer Tech

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Written by Nick Minio, Brand Experience Strategist at nate

The Steps to Take to Land an Internship in Tech

Consumer tech startups. We all know about them. We all love (or at least use) their products. We all hear about their awesome company culture – rooftop parties, free lunch, and the list goes on. Looking from the outside in, it seems impossible to break in. You might think that you need a laundry list of skills to get in. But that’s not necessarily true. Coming from a consumer tech startup, nate, here are some tips on how you can stand out from the crowd when you’re trying to break into tech.

Build Your Network and Be Patient

The tech industry is bigger than you might think. Of course you have the four horsemen, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple, but there are plenty of buzzing tech startups all over. And just like the formerly mentioned behemoths, they’re looking for top-class talent to bring their product to the next level.

Whether you’re looking to join Goliath or David, start connecting with them. To start, imagine where you want to be when you graduate, then 5 years down the road, and then 10 years. Then, find people in those positions, and work backwards from there. Take it step by step and don’t rush into asking these people for jobs. Ask them for a virtual coffee, get to know more about them and what their journey was like. Establishing these relationships early will compound and pay off when the time comes. Build your network. Be patient.

At nate, we know that networking is best done through making friends. We also use this as an excuse to do fun activities as a team together (hint: the rooftop parties and free lunches mentioned earlier).

Test the Product

This one cannot be stressed enough. Using the product and learning your way around it will put you at least in good standing among the sea of applicants. This shows whatever company, or whoever, you’re talking to that you care enough to put the extra time in to learn about their product, and their story. As an employee, especially at an early-stage startup, you are the champion of the product. Even when you think your product is insanely good, getting the masses to adopt it is frustratingly hard. 

Your job, especially at a startup, is to know the ins and outs of your company and your product. There’s no shortcut around this. The best teachers were once students. And when you’re a student, you have to start small. Be the guinea pig for new features. Familiarize yourself with all the little features. If they give you an opportunity for product feedback, take it. If you show that you want to be their champion, they’ll be more likely to welcome you as one.

Focus on What You Can Do

Startups and hiring managers sometimes have thousands of resumes and applications to sift through. Once you’ve looked through 20 resumes, the 20th looks pretty similar to the 50th, and the 50th pretty similar to the 100th. And the hard truth is, you don’t get to choose which order your resume gets seen in.

The best way to stand out? Write a cover letter, or at least include in your application, what you can do for the company that is relevant to them and your previous experience. Focus on what makes you unique and different from the crowd. If you think your previous experience is not unique or relevant, think harder. There is always something you can leverage, and that is your unique selling point. When we’re looking to bring on new rockstars at nate, we look for the people who are passionate about what they’re applying for. Even if it’s a software engineer applying to a customer service role. We don’t care. Do you have the drive and the vision? Awesome. Let’s build a business together then.

Now you’ve been armed with the tactics to stand out when you’re trying to break your way into the tech industry. It’s your job to go and use these tactics now. Let’s break down what your next steps are: 

  1. Connect with 5 people you want to work with in the future. Start small. Ask them to just chat about their story! (Protip: Ask them to recommend someone else you should talk to)
  2. Search for positions and startups you’d love to work at. There are plenty of roles at exciting startups out there, just check out to find a few.
  3. Nail your application and cover letter. Make it as relevant to the company and position as you can. And remember to focus on what you can do, rather than what you’ve done in the past.

And that’s it. Now you’re ready to take on the tech industry. Be confident, push your limits, and remember these 3 tips.