Everyone’s Rushing To Be An Entrepreneur (aka Why I Don’t Have A Startup)


I think deep down I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but it wasn’t until I read Mukund Mohan‘s post today that I was inspired to just get it out there. Definitely read Mukund’s post too, by the way — Great read!

Friends have been asking me for a few years now what my startup is going to be (a dozen or so — is that even considered a lot or am I just kidding myself?) Either way, it’s very kind of them to insinuate I should start my own startup. I’m reading into this the assumption that they think I would be a successful founder. So here are the reasons I haven’t had a go at it yet:

1.) I don’t have the right idea yet. It’s not only about finding a pain point or completely new idea. It’s also about having the instinct for product development, the connections, and the passion to devote several stressful years of your life to making this dream a reality. One great piece of advice I recently heard is that entrepreneurs should always be asking themselves “Am I the right person to be doing this at this time?” Until I find the intersection where something I’m truly passionate about, my strengths and the correct timing meet, it just doesn’t make sense for me to take the plunge.

2.) It takes A LOT of blood, sweat and tears. I’ve been working with entrepreneurs pretty closely the last 3 years, and I’ve seen what it can do to some very intelligent, even-keeled, all-around wonderful people. The stresses of entrepreneurship are often compared to manic depression. One day, it looks like you’re on the right path and things are lining up like it was meant to be, the next, you’re losing traction, faith in yourself, and feel depressed that you spent years of your life on a baby that will ultimately fail.

3.) I’m not sure I have what it takes. It takes a very special and talented person to be successful at founding startups. Why else would there be such a high failure rate? You need to listen to advisors, but also have enough conviction to know when to follow your gut. You need to be stubborn and not give up, but be flexible enough to pivot if your original idea just isn’t resonating with your target market. You need to be very good at sales, marketing and product development (or develop those skills quickly!) since you’ll be wearing all of these hats and more in the beginning. And that’s just scratching the surface.

3 b.) Women lack self-confidence. According to loads of articles on why there are so few female entrepreneurs (a real explosion of those articles in the last 1-2years!), this may also be simply because I am a woman. We are socialized and probably have natural tendencies not to put ourselves out there or just run with it as much as men do. While I’m aware of this and compensate as best I can, it still feels like something that’s holding me back. Either way, if I ever do find an idea I feel strongly enough about to go for it and found a startup, I’ll be very grateful for all the encouragement friends and family gave me along the way!

What I’m really trying to get at here is that entrepreneurship is hip and cool right now, but the media glorify the fulfilling, glamorous aspects of the job to the detriment of a comprehensive understanding of all its realities. While I love the feeling of having a big impact I can see (never mind the celebrity if you strike it Uber famous), I have little illusions about just how hard it’s going to be: years of 70-80 hour weeks, sleepless nights, and despair when it looks like things aren’t going to work, hopefully followed by periods of elation when things look up again… Rinse, wash and repeat.

At a panel at RocketSpace just a few weeks ago the founder of Eventbrite said that if she’d known ahead of time just how difficult and stressful starting her own company would be, she might not have gone through with it. It’s not to say I haven’t learned a lot from everyone I’ve worked with and the hundreds of startup events I’ve attended. I’ve been fortunate to get that much advice before even starting. For better or worse, I know just what I’d be getting myself into.

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How to Apply for a Job


Professional Kitty! Photo Credit: ladydinahs.com

Been kicking around a rather mild form of writer’s block, but I’m back with more job search advice! Today’s topic: what to actually do to apply for a job in the most effective way.

  1. Update your resume. Make sure all of your recent / relevant positions are included and the start and end dates are correct, then use online tools such as my toolbox (and there are tons of other websites with great advice!) to make your resume as appealing as you can.
  2. Make a list. It won’t look like you’re organized or know what you’re doing if you apply to the same role several times. The recruiter will notice this and may think you are desperate (you never want that to come across, even if you may be in dire need of a new job.) Keep a detailed list of each position you applied for, the link to the job description (so you know what the recruiter’s talking about when they call you), as well as an updated status if you know for sure you were rejected, had a phone screen, or went in for an interview. It only takes a few extra seconds and could make you look much more professional.
  3. Read the ad carefully. Do you meet the skills and/or experience requirements? If not, by only a little or by a long shot? If you’re nowhere near what the ad asks for, you’re wasting your time applying (and most likely the sourcer/recruiter’s too.) Also, does the ad specify how to apply? Are there application instructions? Do you need to email someone your resume instead of clicking on the big red “Apply” button? Do you only need a resume and no cover letter? Paying attention to these details will demonstrate your attention to detail, ability to follow instructions, and ultimately give you a leg up.
  4. Tailor your resume and cover letter to each position. For your resume, this does not mean only add new bullet points with phrases from the ad to each position, if you do that you will end up with a 3-page resume. Instead, take out the bullet points that don’t relate to the ad (or take out whole positions — just leave the title, start and end date, and one bullet point summarizing what you did), and summarize less important points. For the cover letter, do something similar. You can probably keep your first and last line, but change the info in your cover letter to show you have the skills this specific company is looking for (not all of the others you applied to as well.)
  5. Beware of typos. Are you applying Facebook but your cover letter and resume say you want to work at Google? Small details like that aren’t going to help you position yourself as a top-notch candidate.
  6. Follow up. Didn’t hear back? Give it 4 work days and email/call/LinkedIn InMail. If there isn’t any contact info listed anywhere, then unfortunately they just don’t want you to reach out. In that case, I would assume you were not selected for interviews and move on. *Ideally, you should still have been applying to other positions while you waited anyway, and it will be an even more pleasant surprise if you hear back 2 – 6 weeks later!
  7. Research. Once you’ve applied, be prepared to get a call from someone at the company. They may ask you why you’re interested in working for them so take a few minutes to look at their website, their values, their culture… those will often showcase the unique traits that make a company more desirable to work for. Also, do take a close look at the job description. If you can sell your desire to work for the company as well as your interest/passion for the position you will be all the better off for it!
  8. Look inwards. You should eventually be invited to interview for a position, and you will have some more wonderful preparation to do. Take 20 – 30 minutes to research commonly asked interview questions (achievement you’re most proud of, strenghts & weaknesses, what you could improve on…) and come up with thoughtful and honest, but also flattering, answers.
  9. Try, try again. Very few people get hired for the very first position they apply for, so set aside 15+ minutes to apply to 1 or more positions each day. As your applications add up, you should start receiving more and more phone calls and going in for interviews. Don’t despair if you don’t hear back from the first few though, keep applying! Sometimes it takes a little while for recruiters to go through all of the candidates who applied in (especially considering most work on 10+ reqs at a time!) and you may simply not be the best fit for every position you apply for.

In short, be ready to sell yourself as soon as you are called in response to an application, and don’t despair or take it personally if you don’t hear back.

*** Like this article? Check out my Job Search Toolbox for more great tips! ***

Sophie’s Job Search Toolbox


Time to become a young professional headed for the future — cheesy photo and everything!!

I’ve written several articles geared toward helping recent grads (and anyone else, really) get a job and plan on writing several more so I thought I would gather all of them neatly in one place O=]

How to Make a Recruiter Like Your Resume

Writing a Kick-Ass Cover Letter

LinkedIn Can Help You Get a Job!

How to Apply to Jobs

Why HR Is Rejecting Your Resume

Are Social Media the Reason You Can’t Get a Job?

Will Playing Hard-To-Get Help You Land Your Dream Job?

How to Ace a Phone Screen (Or Interview!)

How to Structure a Resume

Freebie from before I got into recruiting — How to Get a Job 7 Tips

And many more to come…

A Sweet Last Day at Contract Live


As anyone who read my last blog post knows, Friday was my last day at Contract Live. Before I share pictures from my going-away party, I’d like to briefly explain the reason for my departure.

The short of it is that it just wasn’t the right startup for me. My bosses and I agreed that someone else would be a better match for the startup and the position, so we’re leaving on very good terms =]

This was a very interesting first experience working in France: I got a great introduction into French startups, learned a lot about how things work here, and had a very intelligent boss to learn all sorts of things from. It may not be the best place for me, but I definitely don’t perceive it as time wasted and will keep some nice memories!

So now it’s time to get back out there and look for work =] Do let me know if you hear of any Bay Area startups looking for someone to come in and help with comm., social media and e-marketing, amongst other things O=]

I’m still waiting on pictures (and videos ;D) to come in from coworkers, but here’s a sneak peak and I’ll update this post once I have everything.

I hid Kinder Surprise (Yum!) eggs all over our office for everyone to find in an early Easter celebration! There was one hidden in the printer O=D

Bowser laid an egg!

Project Happy: I have 2 moments to share from today.

1.) I had tons of fun riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle all over Paris. We drove alongside the Seine River to go to the Eiffel Tower =]

2.) That same friend told me I seemed like an energetic, smart kid and that I’d be going places, so he’d like me to hit him up when I decide to start my own business (I’m sooo flattered he thinks I have so much potential and have what it takes to create my own startup <3)

What about you? Tell me about a nice moment you had today =]

Looking For Work Is Hard Work!


Hi everyone,

Pictures are nice and pretty, but I thought you might all like to get some actual news! I’ve now been in France for two weeks and a half… and things are coming along slowly I guess. My first week I took care of lots of administrative things (as I think I already mentioned in a past post), and then my second week I started sending out tons of CVs and cover letters.

… that wasn’t very successful. The depression hurt the French economy, but , even more than that, it is very difficult for recent graduates “jeunes diplômés” to find work in France. The socialist French government passed legislation (quite a while back) that makes it very difficult for companies to fire employees. As a result, it is rather difficult to get hired in the first place. Furthermore, the French tend to be loaded with degrees, which makes my two Bachelor’s Degrees look rather inadequate.

Not to worry though, I’ve still been finding opportunities! I’ve been working my networks for contacts in France and may have opportunities at Nissan-Renault and HSBC. Job forums have also been an interesting avenue. Thursday, I attended Forum Paris Pour L’Emploi, but it wasn’t very interesting. There were way too many applicants for each position offered, and there were only 8 companies even looking to hire someone in Communications.

The event was held in beautiful Place de la Concorde though–so I took a few pictures. Check out the amazing view!

The Obélisk, Eiffel Tower, and Fontaine des Mers (Fountain of the Seas)

The Forum Paris pour l’Emploi wasn’t very useful, but I got a lead for a great networking event for startups, Jobs for Bob, from an AIESEC US alum in Paris (thanks for introducing us Alex!) The event was great! I made tons of contacts with startups in Paris, met a lot of interesting individuals, and may even have found several jobs! We’ll have to see how it all turns out, but I may just have found an internship for Silicon Sentier, the org that put the event on.

I’m sorry I forgot to take pictures this morning, but you may be able to find some on Silicon Sentier or Le Camping (their startup project)’s website: http://siliconsentier.org/le-camping/

That’s all for now.

Anne-Sophie

 

 

Dream Job: International House Activities Coordinator


All this talk about living life to the fullest and finding a fulfilling occupation has made me kind of pensive lately. I’ve been dreaming up all kinds of ideal careers! Here’s the first one I’ll tell you about.

I volunteered at my university’s International House (i-house) this morning. It was tons of fun. I got to chat up students from Germany, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand… you name it! Today was the first day of a whole week preparing international students for their first semester in the U.S. and it got me thinking… I could totally work at a place like this =]

I love meeting people from all over the world, speak 4 languages, am used to dealing with cultural differences, have tons of experience working with foreigners and am used to planning sight-seeing trips/taking care of reception both for friends of mine who fly in and for interns placed in the Bay Area by AIESEC San Jose.

I drove all the way down to San Diego to take care of AIESEC reception for our Dutch trainee, Jeroen (first from the left)

AIESEC and my own love of traveling and making friends with people from the world over have prepared me for this kind of occupation pretty well…

Let’s look at the perks

  1. Meet students from all over the world (and make friends =] )
  2. Motivation to learn even more languages!
  3. Do work that is much more fun than being stuck in a cubicle all week long
  4. Plan and go on trips all over the Bay Area
Now for the cons
  1. Probably doesn’t pay very well
  2. Long hours
  3. Work on weekends
  4. Event planning (?)

Yeah… I don’t especially enjoy event planning, but I think I should specify. I don’t like to plan big, professional, time-consuming events (like the alumni mixer AIESEC San Jose put on last fall) but smaller-scale events for foreign students are different. Those are more laid-back and I’m used to setting them up so it shouldn’t be a problem.

All things considered, this would be a super-fun job! Now I have no illusions… the i-house’s coordinator was running all over the place and seemed pretty stressed out this morning. She was getting ready for a long week of activities! She also seemed very happy though, like she truly enjoys her job. Maybe I should interview her for a blog post–yeah?

I guess what I need to figure out now is whether there are “i-houses” at universities in Paris!

What do you think? Would I make a good international student activities coordinator?

Choosing a Career: Money or Fun?


Last weekend I was stuck at work during a particularly boring shift and started wondering how I ended up there. Usually my job is really fun–I get to talk to people who stop by our display at fairs and tell them about bath remodeling while enjoying the festive atmosphere and exploring the attractions during breaks. As a matter of fact, two weeks ago I worked a car show and got to check out beautiful old cars while I worked! However, both last Saturday and Sunday I was unfortunately stuck working at a mall where few people walk by our store and even fewer bother to come in. As I stood there waiting for customers, bored stiff, I began wondering why I had taken this job and realized that it could make for a brilliant blog entry (I found something productive to do with my time: coming up with topic ideas!)

In case you’re wondering, I decided to take this job because I was bored–great way to remedy that, right? I hadn’t worked in a few months and felt like I was not being productive (or filling my bank account–let’s face it, moving to a new country can be expensive!) and I thought this sounded like fun. At first I looked for PR internships, but quickly realized that no one would want to bother training an intern they could only have for a few months. And so my fate was sealed.

Even though I would have enjoyed all the things that typically come with an internship: learning new things, developing my skills, making industry contacts… I don’t regret taking this job. I usually have a lot of fun and it’s a great way of making some extra cash before moving ($13/hr isn’t too bad for a part-time job!) I do think I’ll be careful when I look for work in Paris though–I’ll make sure the long-term positions I apply for have interesting work and allow for personal development.

Let’s hear from you guys though. What’s more important: making money or doing something you enjoy?