Not many folks know this, but back in 2020 when Earlywork was just a newsletter, launching a community wasn’t the first ‘product’ idea we tried.
After research with 150+ students & graduates across our newsletter audience, we found that the average graduate was willing to pay $3000 to guarantee their dream graduate role, with some going as high as $10,000-$20,000.
We had also encountered a super low literacy around job application & interview processes for tech & startup roles in Australia.
Based on these two insights, we launched a job search coaching service to help students and graduates land roles in tech & startups.
If we could help someone land a job, incrementally, we would be landing them tens of thousands of dollars and a ton of upside in terms of future learning and career progression.
In doing so, we also wanted to democratise ‘job search as a skill’ and level the playing field. Notably, for our beta cohort, we opted for a pay-what-you-want, no-win, no-fee model, so that anyone regardless of income level could access the service.
Leveraging our newsletter, social media presence, and campus network, we tested our coaching model with dozens of young people from a diverse range of academic and professional backgrounds, with structured sessions around:
What Career Pathway to Choose + How to Discover Top Startups in Australia
How to Create a Killer LinkedIn, Resume & Cover Letter
How to Leverage Cold LinkedIn DMs
Behavioural Interview Tips & Tricks
But we made a ton of f*ckups along the way… 🤦
With no upfront cost, limited screening, and no formalised coaching agreement, our beta cohort attracted candidates with a mixed bag of needs, urgency and motivation levels.
Folks would have one or a couple of sessions, but they would:
Drop off to focus on other areas of life like uni and current work
Already have landed their own interviews with companies before starting sessions
Stop sessions and later use the initial insights & skills learned to land a job independently
Not yet have the right foundational skills to land the jobs they wanted
We didn’t have a rigorous system of collecting product feedback and hadn’t formalised a neat way to request payment, so we struggled to capture the value from folks who eventually landed jobs with our help.
After this initial beta cohort, we were on track to launch a more structured, cohort-based career coaching program to help students & graduates land startup roles in early 2021.
But we asked ourselves: “Why should we focus on helping ten people when we can help thousands?”
So in April 2021, we turned our LinkedIn group of early newsletters fans into a dedicated community on Slack: the Earlywork community.
From those intimate one-on-one coaching experiences navigating career stories, one valuable thing that did emerge was a set of four key factors that determine whether a role is the right fit for someone, which we termed the PEGS framework:
To this day, the PEGS framework is still the introductory paradigm I use when mentoring students and recent graduates who are unsure about what role to take on.
Here’s how to use it:
#1: Problem 🤬 What problems piss you off?
Choosing a career in the tech & startup space, given its fast pace and high level of ambiguity, can come with a lot of ups and downs.
When I look back at the roles I enjoyed the most, a common thread was that I was working on a problem that pissed me off i.e. a problem worth solving.
Working on something you give a shit about makes the harder days worth it, so when you’re evaluating what ‘industry’ to work in long-term, come back to a broad lens view of the world around you.
What big problems personally frustrate you, excite you, or capture your curiosity?
“Follow your passion” comes from a good place in chasing what you’re curious about…
…but when it comes to choosing a career, not all passions come with equal opportunities.
The sweet spot is finding where your curiosity intersects with the pain points and unmet needs of others.
If you’re struggling with an answer here, that’s okay! Start somewhere, and the more problem spaces you explore, the stronger your answer will be.
#2: Environment 🏡 What does your ideal working environment look like?
You can take one problem, say, the transition to renewable energy, and tackle that in many different environments:
Consultancies & agencies
Not-for-profits and charities
The environment you choose can have a huge impact on the learning, responsibility, culture and impact you get, so choosing the right one is arguably as important as the problem space itself.
Here are some key dimensions to consider as a way to segment different environments and understand where you can best thrive:
a) Are you primarily looking for mentorship or ownership?
b) Do you thrive in structured or unstructured environments?
c) Do you prefer independent or collaborative work?
d) Do you want to go broad or go deep?
e) How comfortable are you with risk & change?
A lot of these questions often wedge on the total headcount of your workplace, so it’s worth getting exposure to big and small companies to help you get clearer here.
Customer success has dramatically evolved to a proactive and strategic function that's critical to most startups. By all accounts, it's still a relatively non-competitive route into startupland. So, how do you break in?
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