Aspiring entrepreneurs should be especially conscious of their first career choices, as it can be the experience they need to prepare for their own ventures. As the academic year closes out, seniors across the country are evaluating job offers and looking around for the best opportunities to start their careers. Some students will look for a great tech name, some for the best exposure to their favorite industry and others for whatever job pays the most.
Many ask what is the best job versus the best first job.
Instead, first jobs should be stepping stones – a way to capture knowledge quickly and move on, versus a position that offers immediate gratification in the form of compensation, benefits or a title. If you are a young person planning to be an entrepreneur, here are some tips and considerations for evaluating your first job.
1. High-tech industries
The “conventional” IT behemoths provide possibilities to work on well-funded projects, apps with millions of users, and network with great people. Working for one of the “Big Five,” on the other hand, is no longer a risky or entrepreneurial career choice, but rather a safe one. Joining the country’s largest corporations will no longer likely result in wealth from stock options, but the benefits of expertise and brand strength are difficult to emphasize.
2. Large consulting firms
Huge consulting businesses, which should perhaps be named the “work your ass off” path, provide young people with the opportunity to solve complicated challenges for large businesses, which are generally reserved for far later in management. Having your first job at these types of firms means you might be working on a complex supply chain issue or a branding concept for a national retailer very soon after you step out into the world of work. This type of experience is hard to come by, and building a successful portfolio of these projects is an excellent professional stepping stone.
3. The popular start-up
Startups are often told not to do “what everyone else is doing” but when it comes to startups, the crowd has a certain wisdom. Be agnostic as to what kind of job you can land at these hot companies. Pay special attention to the quality of their funding sources.
4. Jobs in the money
Finance is good for wealth accumulation and because finance is agnostic to industry. If you work in finance, you can translate these skills into whatever industry or practice area you choose to pursue. Entrepreneurship is a great way to make money but it’s not always about 100 hours a week.
5. Sales and customer service
Entrepreneurship is about understanding people’s needs and how to address them. Sales positions involve pitching a product, but more importantly, they give you exposure to external people. Customer service positions are excellent stepping stone positions that teach you problem-solving skills.
Solopreneurship is the “just start already” mentality, which does not require a gatekeeper to grant you access. There are no limits to any of these paths, and direct entrepreneurship/solopreneurry is no different. The choice is yours. You can use your skills and time to offer services immediately, no matter your level of experience. The path of “solopreneurship” doesn’t presuppose having a plan for a big business, but instead focuses on the immediate generation of income based on your own efforts.