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Entrepreneurial careers

Discover your inner entrepreneur

Gain experience and build the entrepreneurial skills valued by industry, whether you have a business idea to develop or are seeking employment with a startup.

Working in the entrepreneurial career space

Whether you work for or become the founder of a startup or social enterprise, the experience can:

  • present an opportunity to be part of a small, fast-moving team where you are seeing the direct impact of your work on a daily basis
  • be an opportunity to work outside your comfort zone to expand your range of employability skills. Technical skills will be challenged and improved, and you will also be able to enhance your employability through your communication, time management, research, interpersonal, social media, presentation and analytical skills
  • many graduate employers value entrepreneurial experience as evidence of sought-after 'intrapreneurship skills'
  • give valuable insights for anyone hoping to one day start their own company as you are working at an organisation as it grows. You will learn from the founders and see a first-hand view of what it takes to manage a business
  • provide a more casual and less conservative working environment than traditional companies.

While there are many benefits to founding or working for a startup, there are some factors to consider when deciding if this career pathway is for you:

  • You should be prepared to work hard and multi-task. Expect that you’ll be performing a variety of tasks, both mundane and challenging, and be ready and willing to do them.
  • To succeed you need to embrace change and the fast-moving, often hectic, pace of work.
  • Be resilient enough to cope with setbacks and handle stress. Not all startups succeed but you will still gain valuable skills and experience.
  • Pay may not be as high as in other types of organisations early on, and benefits may be limited until there are more employees, but you might reap the rewards of success if the company does well.

INCUBATE, the startup accelerator and entrepreneur event program developed by the University of Sydney Union, defines a startup as "a fledgling business that is creating a completely new product or service based on technological innovation".

A startup is not a small version of a larger company. Startups are often doing something completely new and thus are searching for a repeatable and scalable business model, often with the potential for global impact.

A social enterprise is a business that trades to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They are usually started by a person or group with a particular passion and sense of purpose to address an identified problem.

Joining a startup is not like applying for a regular job. Startups move quickly and tend to hire on an as-needed basis, meaning they are often looking for interns and employees to fill positions that begin immediately. Positions are dependent on what founders (business owners) are looking for and applicants need to show they have the right attitude, skills and ambition to help them succeed. These include:

  • creativity and innovation
  • confidence and energy
  • decisiveness and (calculated) risk-taking
  • problem solving
  • communication and networking skills.
  • Many startups do not advertise positions, preferring to hire by word of mouth or referral. Networking within the startup community is absolutely essential, as this is often the best route to find ‘hidden’ positions. Facebook is definitely your friend – so is Twitter and LinkedIn! Follow organisations you are interested in on social media to get their news and openings in your news feed. Other opportunities to network with the entrepreneurial community in Sydney and beyond include meet-ups, startup weekends, workshops and hackathons.
  • Monitor startups on campus at events like Career Fairs and Employer Information Sessions. Check for advertised vacancies on Sydney CareerHub and on startup-specific job search websites.
  • If you have a particular startup in mind that you would like to work for, you could approach them directly after doing your research about the organisation.
  • If you don’t have a business idea but would like to join a startup team and gain work experience in a startup, you can register your skills and interest with INCUBATE.
  • Keep up with the latest news and insights in the startup space by checking out some of the many online magazines that are on offer. These can help you identify which start ups might be reaching a stage where they are seeking to recruit more employees. You can find links to a selection of these via Sydney Genesis resources.