Charlie O'Donnell, First Round Capital
run into a lot of people trying to switch careers and join a startup. They're trying to get product positions and marketing jobs in particular, but they don't have any prior experience. That leaves them in the infinite loop of not being able to get the job because you don't have experience, but not being able to get any experience, etc, etc.
It's a solvable problem. You can do nearly absolutely anything within one or two years time--as long as you put your mind to it and construct a plan. I'll talk more about this at my upcoming General Assembly talk, but here's the outline.
One of the inspirations behind the company I started in the career development space was a conversation I had with a Fordham student. He was interested in venture capital and was a year away from graduation. I realized that a position at Union Square Ventures was going to be open in a year and that he had a terrific chance of getting it. He seemed perplexed that they'd even consider hiring someone out of school. What I told him was that no other people had a year head start. It was unlikely that *anyone* was thinking out a year ahead that getting that particular job was their goal. He could decide right then and there that he was going to get that job in one year--he just had to do all sorts of stuff to be the number one recruit--after figuring out what that was. It was an exercise in reverse engineering.
This can apply to most jobs--save for things like coding and design that tend to be more hard skill based. However, I'd make the case that if you really did dedicate yourself to something, you could make a lot of headway in two years time--especially if you had some natural inclination. Me, I can't draw my way out of a stick hat, so I'd be a lost cause--but a creative person could do a lot with design classes in two years.
In any case, you're going to have to start out with a very detailed job spec. You need to know exactly what someone in this role is doing now--and there's no better way to do that then to just ask. If you want to be in venture capital, ask a bunch of junior VC types what they actually do all day, and ask a bunch of partners what they expect the junior VC types to do all day (I wonder if this would come anywhere close to matching up.) Write down all the tasks done, skills used, etc. and see which ones overlap the most.
Those are the "requireds" and the rest are the "preferred". See if you can group these attributes into types. Some product managers might be more technical, working on feature requirements and interfacing with the engineering team, while others might be more like brand managers who are the GM of their brands. Not every employee needs to be the same, but everyone needs to be awesome in some way--just figure out the various types of awesome that fit into that particular role.
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