Since Earlywork began in 2020, we have witnessed a radical change in how Gen Z workers across Australia & New Zealand think about their careers.
In the US, many of the best and brightest students flock to Silicon Valley to join or build transformational companies like Tesla, Khan Academy, Coinbase & Discord.
Meanwhile in Australia, many of our high achievers with an interest in business have traditionally set their sights on banking, consulting, corporate law & professional services.
But the world is changing 🌏
Crises in climate, inequality and social inclusion are highlighting major flaws in how our society operates today.
Meanwhile, technologies like AI, Web3, and AR/VR are literally creating new worlds of opportunity.
With so much transformation on the horizon, the allure of traditional career pathways is fading. Increasingly, young people are disenchanted by the feeling of insignificance in a corporate environment.
Many of us spend the majority of our weekday waking hours at work, and yet for so many of us, we go into careers based on extremely limited information about what’s out there.
From here, many end up in a situation where they don’t feel fulfilled by what they work on. Worse, they dread their day jobs, work crazy hours and end up burning out.
We believe every person can have a meaningful career and make a positive dent on the planet ✨
That’s why, as of today, we’re ecstatic to share with you folks that Earlywork has closed $700K in pre-seed funding led by Square Peg, supported by Archangel Ventures, Phase One Ventures & several angels to go full-time on our dream project.
It’s been an incredible journey from the birth of a little careers newsletter 1.5 years ago to get to this point, and at the heart of that has been you folks: the amazing community we’ve been lucky to grow alongside.
There are so many people we are indebted to for the advice, support and advocacy they have given, but in particular, we wanted to shoutout our early Keen Beans 🌱(community advisors) & Sages 🧙 (company advisors), who’ve been there from the early days as champions of the community we’ve worked to cultivate: Dan Sutherland, Penny Talalak, Bryce Chee, Arni Mittal, Abhi Maran, Elaha Gurgani, Sean Stuart, Eezu Tan, Lucas Leung, Rohyl Joshi, Ahnaf Aaqif, Saurav Risbud, Justin Teo, Lucy Tan, and Steve Solomon.
Fundamentally, Earlywork is a community-first project, and in everything we hope to create over the years to come, it all comes back to the question of how we can best help each of you in your journey to work on, and create something you care about deeply.
Rather than our usual newsletter format, we wanted to share a more intimate piece with you as a reflection on our early journey, why we’re building Earlywork, and the vision we see ahead for how to help young people navigate their careers.
Oh, and if you’re new here, welcome! You can subscribe for free to follow our journey:
Let’s dive in 🤿
Creating The Careers of Tomorrow 🔮
Our big, bold vision for the road ahead rests on a core thesis:
Earlywork is building the home for young people creating the careers of tomorrow 🏡
We define the careers of tomorrow as those that enable high impact on the future through an openness to bold, new ideas and the velocity to rapidly turn ideas into action.
Disproportionately, we believe that these sort of career opportunities can be found across the spaces of tech, startups and social impact.
Each of these three gives someone the chance to work on genuinely unsolved problems, whether it be driving transformational technology forward, tackling pressing global risks, or making a more equitable & just society.
In particular, the past five years have bared witness to the incredible rising tide of Australia’s startup ecosystem, with billion-dollar scaleups like Canva, Airwallex, Zeller, Rokt, Immutable, SafetyCulture, Culture Amp & Go1 amassing top talent & funding at an unprecedented rate.
With each success story, young Aussies looking to dream big are beginning to realise they no longer need to travel halfway across the world to create cutting-edge companies & products, and build a career that aligns with the things they care about most.
However, with the rise of remote work, there is a more urgent gap for social connection between young professionals than ever before ❤️🩹
Early in your career, it’s hard to know what companies & roles are out there, what skills to cultivate, or decide what problems to work on.
For future-focused careers, it’s especially challenging, with someone joining a scrappy, fast-paced company or building something from scratch.
You’re often building your own learning curriculum, there’s no clear pathway to steady promotions, and it can be lonely without a traditional ‘grad cohort’ to grow alongside.
That’s why Earlywork exists.
We’re a home for young founders, operators & students that extends beyond just a single company.
A place where you can see what opportunities and trends are out there, get inspired by others, and build a safe & supportive crew in navigating your career journey.
It’s not a 2-year up-or-out graduate program, or a one-time, intensive 10-week course, but a long-term community that will grow alongside you and eventually create companies & projects together.
Writing a New Career Narrative 📝
University campuses today are flooded with events & marketing for the Westpacs and Deloittes of the world.
But you’ll struggle to find universities actively training growth marketers and product managers, or showcasing fast-growing startups like Ovira, Relevance AI and Vow.
90% of students go to university to get a job, and yet, after spending tens of thousands on a degree, many lack the knowledge, networks and resources to find a role in our fastest-growing companies.
When we were at university, there was no single clear place for students to understand roles like these, who was hiring for them, and what skills we need to build to break in.
Two out of three of us ended up stumbling into roles as product managers, but we didn’t have a single product management course in university, despite it being one of the most in-demand startup roles.
Fundamentally, we believe there is a huge career literacy gap for students & graduates in Australia & New Zealand around future-focused careers.
So what was the first thing we did about it?
The Earlywork newsletter began back in September 2020 as a cheeky little side project with 10 subscribers, to bring visibility to junior roles in tech & startups.
We began to showcase young founders & creators, capturing the changing narrative of how Gen Z think about their careers.
On top of that, we made a commitment to consistently create free career resources, with the goal of democratising the skill of job search that many universities fail to adequately equip their students with.
Today, we’re lucky enough to write weekly for an audience of 4000+ readers, now taking a multiplayer approach in co-creating content with the community we strive to help educate.
Over the coming months, we look to broaden our content all the way from short-form videos to long-form guidebooks.
But ultimately, our motivation comes back to content as a highly scalable tool for young people to grow in their careers, guided by 3 core principles:
- Untold Stories
- Actionable Insights
- Challenging Career Convention
Over time, our ambition is to build out Earlywork as the world’s go-to content resource to explore future-focused careers, helping young people confidently chart their own path in a rapidly changing world of work.
Building a Home For Future-Focused Careers 🧡
🎓 We believe community is the single biggest gap in education today.
The careers of tomorrow rely on the ability to chart your own path through constantly updating information.
There is no textbook and no finish line, and it can be an overwhelming journey trying to stay on top of how the world is changing.
When we reflect on our university experiences, the most valuable learning came not from our classes, but from our social cohort: the peers we co-learned with, societies we joined and projects we built.
So we started to ask ourselves:
What if you could build a long-term social cohort of ambitious learners, and allow people to co-learn & grow in their careers without spending tens of thousands of dollars on a tertiary degree?
In April 2021, after an early experiment with LinkedIn groups (shoutout to the OGs!), we launched the Earlywork community, a free Slack community that helps young people co-learn and grow together in their careers, regardless of whether they go to university or not.
Though we had a decent newsletter audience at the time, the first two months with <200 members were f*cking hard, and we were testing everything we could to kick off conversations and get people contributing.
After pushing hard on nights and weekends while all working or studying full-time, we cracked a historic turning point in our efforts.
Community members began to start discussions, share resources and help each other with career questions, without us laying a finger.
We realised that what began as one-way communication with the newsletter had turned into a two-way conversation.
Looking at some of the strongest early contributors to the community, we began to band together an intimate crew of superfans which we termed ‘keen beans’ 🌱
Each month, we would meet and discuss what was going well in the community, what sucked, and opportunities to engage and grow the community with new initiatives.
Fast forward today, and we feel lucky to support a vibrant and engaged ecosystem of 2K+ young people & counting, with ‘pods’ of young people connecting and collaborating in sub-communities like #product, #investing, #sustainability, #education & #crypto.
With the help of some great suggestions from the community, our members now:
- Meet each other through #catchups
- Seek out no bullsh*t advice in #questions
- Share what they’re working on in #showcase
- Find free community workshops & masterclasses in #events
- Trade great resources in #good-reads-and-listens
- Keep a pulse on the world in #news-room
- Trade tools & tips to work & learn smarter in #lifehacks
- Highlight the awesome work of others in #shoutouts
- Get vulnerable about failures in #fuckups-anonymous
In deepening our community from digital to physical, we’re even now trialling a co-living experiment with Earlyhome, helping ANZ’s best young founders & creators build, live and learn alongside each, other surrounded by beautiful nature 🏡
Over time, we envision a dedicated global community platform for the careers of tomorrow, launching Earlywork chapters across the world.
And in broadening our scope, we aim to help people navigate opportunities to work on high-impact problems as early as high school.
Uncovering The Talent of Tomorrow 🌟
In bridging the gap between education & careers, one of the most important things we can do is helping ambitious young talent land roles at, and eventually build, future-focused companies.
On the university side, there’s little tracking on whether we end up at McDonalds or Microsoft.
However, the matching success of students and high-impact roles should be the single most important thing that universities are focused on.
Looking at the hiring ecosystem today, there is a fierce competition between tech companies & startups for top local talent, with many poaching employees from other startups or resorting to workers overseas to fill the gap.
Inherently, there is a short-termism in this approach, because it fails to capture a critical talent pool…
There are thousands of amazing young people who don’t yet have the ‘formal experience’ to be noticed by traditional hiring heuristics.
We believe the tech ecosystem needs to invest in the next generation of talent for their companies, and build talent rather than buying it.
That’s why we’re working side by side with some of Australia’s most innovative companies to nurture and hire the talent of tomorrow.
In September 2021, we first launched Gigs by Earlywork, our jobs board curating early-career opportunities across the careers of tomorrow in Australia & New Zealand.
Rather than jobseekers trawling all the different job boards to find these sort of opportunities, we’ve come to recognise the power of centralising relevant opportunities for our audience in one place.
As we look forward to the future of hiring, we recognise there are other opportunities to match talent and companies beyond the standard job board format.
That’s why alongside Gigs, we’re now launching Talent by Earlywork, a search engine to help young people land awesome roles without applying.
Instead, companies can access and filter a pool of active & passive jobseekers across our community, giving unique insight into what young talent wants in terms of problem space, company size and types of roles.
Over time, we think there are extraordinary opportunities to improve the matching success & efficiency in helping young people find roles they love, from quantifying company culture & values, to measuring qualitative skills, to replacing the resume with content creation.
Talent is our first bet in the right direction, but we’re excited for the road of experimentation ahead towards this goal 🧪
With all this being said, we recognise work is absolutely not the only important thing in life.
However, our fulfilment in the work we do permeates our wellbeing in life more broadly.
We believe there are incredible opportunities for young people to work on something they give a f*ck about
Along the way, we hope to help as many young people across the world as we can find a meaningful career & make a positive dent on the planet.
Building stronger content, community and tools around the career space is the number one problem each of us wants to work on over the next decade.
In that journey, we feel really lucky to have you alongside for the ride.
For Earlywork, it’s early days 🌞