Will Reynolds spun this page up in partnership with Energy Terminal to help software engineers, students, and early-career researchers explore jobs with climate startups.
Ultra Simple Process
- Find companies you think are interesting
- Scroll through the websites below to create a list of 10-20
- Email them asking for a job (find their emails on RocketReach.co)
- Ideally tailor it to them.
- Look up “cold email” and “following up to emails” advice
- Feel free to ping me a draft on my email ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
- Google Energy & Climate industry events — in your local area, San Francisco, NYC, or Boston.
- attend and meet relevant founders (who will find it much easier to find or talk to someone they met personally)
Sources of exceptional climate opportunities
- Scroll through these newsletters for exceptional fundraising news or startups. Working for a company that recently raised $5-$15M is less risky than you’d think, and will teach you many extraordinary skills:
- Climate Tech VC
- Innovate Climate
- Subscribe to ClimateBase’s job board or the newsletters of Greentown Labs and Third Derivative (below)
- Scroll through positions in startups at these “Accelerators.” Both have ~30 companies they support.
- Or through these job Boards
- Listen to different career paths or exceptional entrepreneurs on these podcasts
- My Climate Journey
- Energy Terminal (Duke students x Energy experts)
- Will Reynolds’ personal favorites: Podcasts [list, favorites, best]
What work can you do for them?
So many different things! If you have an interest in their product and team, they could do with your talents in a variety of ways:
- If you’re technical, many startups need chemical or engineering talents. Hundreds of startups require people with software engineering, design, or biology/research-based backgrounds too.
- And, if you’re more of a peoples-person or less technical, most companies also need support in operations (a broad catch all term for solving problems), partnerships/customer relations, or marketing.
I was looking into X accelerator and would love to meet
I’d be interested in helping some of their startups if they can do with someone supporting as an intern or on internal projects. However, I’d also love to personally learn from and support Andrew. Seeing a variety of startups could help a lot as I try to find where I can apply my skills long term.
Attached is my resume, but mostly I can promise I’ll bring enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.
Written By Will Reynolds on @July 19, 2019, in London
Ways to get a job in a startup
These last 18 months I’ve made friends with a lot founders around the world, helped some hire, got friends jobs, hired people myself, been through interviews, and worked with 5 different companies. With all that I’ve learnt, I’ve written a best practice guide to getting a job - from whatever position you are starting at.
There is no shortage of startups around the world looking for talented people (or, at least cheap help). If you are a student in college or university there is a way you can certainly get out there and get a job which opens your mind and hopefully kicks off or accelerates a long fulfilling career.
With these startups, you can either come in with your skill-set and add value, or even if you (as is likely) don’t have any experience yet, you can go in willing to learn and help them wherever they may need it. In return they may let you sit in, helping you to learn and develop. It does take work to get a job at one of these places, but it’s not exclusive or too difficult. So jump and take advantage of it.
How to get in can be distilled into three main steps. 1. Go in knowing what you’ll offer. 2. Find the entrepreneurs and companies you want to work for near you. 3. Approach them in an out-there way.
Follow this, and maybe check out this video I took with Duke University friends, and you can certainly get a summer college internship. If you do this and don’t get one I’ll personally help out if you email me at will[at]diaspora.nz
1 - Know where you’re coming from
Know your stuff. Come in able to add value, or at least understand the general issues faced by startups and the mechanics of their business. Coming in with or without specific expertise (like deep technical knowledge), you can still position yourself to go into sales, marketing design, or just help out wherever is needed in order to get a real sense of the company.
For example: you may be super passionate about VR, with a deep understanding of how it works. You may have already built something relevant, and want to go in for a software developer’s job. If this is the case, then awesome! Go straight ahead to steps 2 and 3.
If you are just interested in working for a startup, are interested in a specific facet like design or sales or are trying to learn and see where your interests lie that’s also great. If you already know a lot in your chosen position of interest, then move to the next step. But if you’re completely new to this, then you can do a fair bit of learning online (if you haven’t read it yet, see our learning resources article for good places to easily get that initial exposure).
Then, just go into the interview knowing what you’d like to get involved in. If you don’t have any expertise and would simply love to see the business by helping anywhere and everywhere then you can… just say so.
At core, just remember to be open to learning and willing to help out the whole time, so you can build on your abilities for the future. You will get in, see what you like and hopefully really some cool opportunities will open up for you.
2 - How to actually find them
Start building out a list of companies in the areas that interest you. Collate 10-20 startups from research who seem to be in an area that interests you, and who appear to have a great group of people running it.
The best way to meet and check out these companies is by going to events and meeting founders, talking to others in your local scene about interesting companies doing well, or just tried and true scouring online.
Ideally reach out to the networks of mentors or people you’ve developed a rapport with (but if you don’t have that yet, don’t worry! Use one of the other methods in this piece and start attending events around what interests you).
If you’re from larger markets like the US and the UK, scour TechCrunch, look up lists of startups in fields that interest you. Alternatively, you can search for local startups and pick a few that look appealing, or that you admire the founder’s of.
The same goes for New Zealand, except it’s a smaller community with only a few media sites covering companies and entrepreneurs. If you’re at university, talk to your innovation departments for recommendations on companies doing interesting work. If you’re from New Zealand, honestly feel free to flick me an email with some background. I’ll make sure to get back to you with thoughts and suggestions on cool companies to reach out to.
3 - Getting the job
Now let’s convert the interesting companies on your list into an actual job on your CV, and a great experience to kickstart your career.
It’s easy to get a job when you’ve built relationships with people and they know you, or can refer you to others in the industry. But if you’re ‘going in cold’ for a company on your list then you have a few options…
- If you have created a LinkedIn profile about you and what you’re wanting to do, reach out and try connecting with them on there. Small chance of a response, but enough of one that it’s worth trying. (I highly recommend building a profile on this ‘Facebook for Business’ equivalent if you don’t have it yet).
- Attend events that people from the company may be attending, or that the CEO is speaking at. Follow news on them and keep up to date.
- Write them a letter or send them something unique showcasing your work or yourself; alternatively, you could reach out with a good and specific reason asking for advice.
- Guess emails - there’ll be cool tools and guides online on how to guess someones email (I use Rocketreach a lot). Make sure to send a nice, well thought out note after researching them. Keep this short and focused on showcasing your uniqueness.
- Stay up to date, follow up and be persistent.
Someone will respond and like you. But getting the job/opportunity may require reaching out to the people in a few ways, showing your interest repeatedly, or coming at it through other people or different approaches (like physical mail). It’s important to keep in mind how busy these people are running their business. Sometime even my closest mentors take a couple of emails before they get through the inbox clutter.
Bonus section - after you meet them and they give you the job or internship
Come in ready to listen and learn, add value where you can, take the opportunities that present themselves and blow them away with your attitude and work ethic. If you’re working for free initially, make sure you get to learn; that is far more valuable than money, and good founders will compensate you fairly once you prove yourself and can bring something to the table. Throughout, look for opportunities and places within the business that interest you the most.
Being willing to work in a growing startup where so much needs to be done, you will learn a tonne and see what parts of businesses you like and are good at. Then as the business grows, areas or opportunities within the company will open up; or, you can take your learnings onto somewhere else. Just keep building, learn and learn more; seek the experience you want, and you will find the value you can bring.
All the best with your journey! Will
ps. Hopefully this is helpful. If it happens to saves you ten hours or you love it just share it with relevant people and consider chucking a cheeky $10 donation to WWildlifeF or Water.org.