Entrepreneurship and Technology

October 14, 2008

Organically Growing Startup Workforce: Action Items

Filed under: colleges,startups — sachdev @ 6:31 pm

The idea about this blog post initiated on reading Vijay Anand’s blog – “The Startup Workforce: A Proposal to the Community”. He has come up with a nice idea which is going to do rounds of discussions in OCC (open-coffee-clubs) and hopefully startup community will take actions soon.

There is another blog – Ideas are Cheap: Real Coding Training from Swaroop who highlights the need of training from fresh graduates point of view so that they are better prepared for “real” work.

After reading these two blog post, I feel it is important to compile “action items” for both startups and for those who are looking to join startups (could be fresh graduates or experienced) which will help grow the startup workforce organically.

Action Items for Startups:

– Talk, blog, twitter and “engage” (live discussions, comments, email conversations with heavy inline replies) right from the time your startup is just an idea! Furthermore, empower your early employees to do the same!

– Go to local schools / colleges and sponsor projects. Every engineering graduate spends several hundreds of hours on final year project. Use this to get a pool of graduates ready for “real” work in startups

– Don’t narrow your view on colleges by just focusing on your project. Explore what other projects are being carried out from the network you build. In addition, do attend project exhibitions / competitions held in various colleges at the end of academic year (PICT – Impetus & Concepts, IITB – Techfest, etc)

– Sponsor workshops during such events, prices in your technology category (systems, networking, web or even more specific like embedded, digital media and so on).

– What’s more you don’t have to wait for such events for this. You can do organize such things on your own and as per your convenience too! Not much expensive. Who knows, even 1-3 years experience people might also start working on projects to win prices or just learn about your startup.

– Participate in providing training workshops that probably will be initiated via various OCC and could include collaborating with other startups.

– Provide internship opportunities to students. As most of the engineering colleges students are busy during final year with projects, target 3rd year engineering students (last second year for other courses) for internships!

– Internships are not just for freshers! Do plan to provide internship for experienced too….who know they might be looking to explore the area of your startup! You could consider them as paid-internship, part-time work, deep dive weekend internships, or just a program that provides a peek into your startup work.

– Network with people by participating in various events like OCC, barcamps and all other un-conferences!

– And most importantly, measure and monitor the results of above action items on your startups and focus on those that provides you high value (output / input)

Action Items for those looking to join startups:

– Talk, blog, twitter and “engage” (live discussions, comments, email conversations with heavy inline replies) right from the day you can surf internet or Day 1 of your school / college whichever is earlier. Promote this among your friends, classmates, and among any community you are a affiliated with.

– Follow, follow and follow all those people who write “something” which interests you (Blog / twitter). Keep a habit of spending around 30 mins reading this way “consistently”. Believe me newspaper / magazines are nothing in comparison to these, so spend time smartly!

– Plan your final year project in areas of your interest. And initiate shopping for projects in companies working in those areas from beginning of your 3rd year. And believe me to get “real” learning, look out for small / medium companies or even startups! Even big companies will heavily shop for you after this experience.

-Do plan to do internship (or even part-time work if you have the right skills to offer) during your college times. This will help you explore companies and get you in touch with industry work soon. Moreover, this could also be a source for your final year project!

– Initiate knowledge and experience sharing among various projects groups. This should be done both online (blog / forums) and offline (monthly “k&e sharing” meetings). Also, plan to do networking with fellow project groups in the areas of your interest during various project exhibitions / competitions (PICT – Impetus & Concepts, IITB – Techfest, etc)

– Those who have some experience, volunteer to guide some projects either by collaborating with startup companies or independently. Even if you have not done this, plan to attend the project exhibitions / competitions and network with students and learn about small / medium / startups companies.

– Stretch yourself beyond your full time job. Work for open-source projects, work part-time or do any kind of internships which will help you explore various opportunities. Only this will help steepen your learning curve. The involvement could also be very minimal like just providing feedbacks on products, technology choice, processes, recruitment / interviews but it “needs to be there”.

– Keep learning new technologies, be it do-it-yourself via blogs / websites / forums or through some training / workshops in your city. Another way, it to enroll for some competitions held across the globe. (Innovation awards, Science and Technology research awards, or facebook / iPhone app competitions, google competitions, etc)

– Network with startups by participating in various events like OCC, barcamps and all other un-conferences.

I hope these action items will help multiply startup workforce which is very critical.


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