In our continuing weekly column, our editors answer career questions from around the web. If you have a question on your mind, send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org
Candidly, we don’t subscribe to the idea that introverts are less likely to succeed at some jobs. That is an archaic concept and as the Briggs-Meyer test continues to get disproved, we hope that the notion of introversion and extroversion as guiding principles in talent management goes away too.
People often conflate introversion with poor communication or leadership skills, and thats a mistake. There are plenty of excellent leaders and communicators that would traditionally classify as introverts. Leadership, management, and communication skills require practice to perfect.
That said, if you don’t enjoy being gregarious, you likely will not enjoy a few jobs in a typical corporate environment. These include sales, public / investor relations, and potentially HR. If you are the sort of person who prefers to work independently, chances are that you will prefer to do things like design, software engineering, architecture, finance and data science that allows you to work relatively independently. No matter what you do, most jobs whether at large companies or small, require significant collaboration to be effective, so make sure your communication and teamwork skills are in order. We think you’ll be great.
There are plenty of jobs at technology startups for non-technical people, but it really depends on the stage of the company. Smaller startups have a very high ratio of technical people, but as they get bigger, they need more people to handle areas like marketing, sales, HR, operations etc.
As startups get larger, they will likely start to hire people in sales and marketing. Initially, sales are probably inbound sales people, and technical sales and support people (assuming its an enterprise focused startup). Similarly, early stage startups are likely to focus on SEO / SEM marketing professionals as opposed to brand marketers. They may also look to add customer experience professionals to help onboard new customers, as well as operations support professionals. This will largely depend on the nature of the startup involved.
As startups get even larger (close to 100 people or more), they start building out typical functions. An HR team to handle recruiting, a finance team to handle basic financial reporting, a business development team to spearhead growth and partnerships, and an analytics team to crunch data.
Startups that have earned the “unicorn” label (over $1bn in valuation), will start looking like a typical public company with a wide range of non-technical roles.
Hope this helps. We have a range of curated channels for jobs at startups that encompass many of these non-technical roles. You can find that here.
This is a fascinating question. Here is our take on core skills to focus on while at school:
The core computer science skills are still critical. From understanding design patterns, to object oriented concepts, to multi-threaded process management — all the core concepts of programming still serve as the foundations for good computer science graduates and will continue to be in demand.
We strongly recommend getting the chance to work on AI / Machine Learning. Not only is it a lot of fun, but those toolkits come in really handy regardless of the industry you want to get into.
Web programming and mobile programming always seem to be in vogue, but more than any particular framework, we would recommend familiarizing yourself with the Model-View-Controller framework that underlies all the major web stacks today. They don’t actively teach that as a part of the core curriculum and that helps immensely as you think about the field.
Understanding statistics and statistical tools can open up the world to you as a CS student. Combined with a little business and finance understanding, this could potentially open up careers in finance, business, data analytics where you could leverage your core skills and learn new ones.
Open source programming is now more relevant than ever. It gives you a chance to prove your skills in a public forum, build a reputation, learn team work, work on version control systems and experience enterprise programming and deployment techniques in a way in which academic experiences will not provide.
Finally, now more than ever, read, explore and expose yourself to learning outside your field. Whether your interests are music, design, fashion, social work, flying, whatever. Cultivating interests and rounding out your personality will be key. Not only do big companies look for this skill as they look for talented people to take on complex challenges, but sometimes experiences outside our field help us connect dots in ways we could never do without that perspective.
Look at these collections of jobs and go through their required skills. This will give you an excellent idea of where the industry is heading: