Getting your first job - How to get over that vicious cycle?

Looking for the first job seems impossible until it happens. And fairly so. It is a vicious cycle.

Companies want to hire people with experience and freshers are looking for a job for that specific purpose - to get experience.

How does one break out of this?

1. Try HARD for internships at startups. It's better to be doing an underpaid job than to sit idle. Internships are the best real-life experience.

In 2018, a friend was going through a rough phase. I referred him for an internship in Bombay for 15k/month (he was underpaid so he was couch surfing at my place to save money🥲). He worked hard and learned the job. Today, he’s paid 25LPA at the same company with a team of 12 people under him.

Even if you don’t continue in the same company after the internship, internships do add a lot of value to your learning.

To start your journey, you can find a list of startups here.


2. Create an independent portfolio.

Create your own reputation if nobody’s giving you one. If you're a designer, just create/recreate designs of apps that you enjoy/understand. See other projects by people on websites like Fueler to get some inspiration.

If you’re a writer, try Upwork or equivalent websites for freelancing (caution: it takes a 2-3 weeks of trying hard to get hired the first time🥲)! I’ve seen people do this and go from college grads to respected consultants.

If you know to code, build a product and use it for your job applications. Or contribute to open source projects.

3. Learn to code.

As crude as it might sound, learning how to code is extremely valuable. It makes you understand tech better and honestly, the opportunities for someone who can code, are only increasing given how much everything involves tech :)

While courses on Udemy, etc are great, doing a course with someone like an AccioJob (Software Development) or AlmaBetter (Data Analytics/Data Science) is way more valuable. Why?

— Supportive peer community: Helps with accountability.

— Timeline-oriented: Helps you bring discipline.

— Outcome-oriented: Designed to help you get a job than just learn a skill.

— Access to mentors: Mentors with similar journeys help you navigate better.

4. Join a cohort-based course - non-coders:

If you can afford to invest some money (say 50k-1L), try courses like GrowthSchool or Stoa! I’ve seen extremely positive feedback about the learning, network and outcome for people from here.

Tip: Talk to people who’ve already taken these courses, and ask them to refer you to the program :)

5. Being vocal:

A lot of us shy away from asking for help from people we know well. There’s a mental barrier here. Post on Linkedin that you’re looking for opportunities or ask people to mentor/advise you. When you keep your doors open, you’ll be surprised at what comes in. :)

If you’re new to the startup ecosystem, read my newsletter, The Startup Apprentice - it’ll be your guide to navigating through the Indian startup ecosystem.

If any of these ideas have worked for you, please reply and let the world know - will motivate more people to keep trying. Also, keep an eye out for people new in their journey - Karma is surprisingly rewarding!