You are brilliant.
Otherwise you wouldn’t be at Stanford, Cal, Caltech, UCLA or any of the other amazing universities that line the “Better Coast.” But you’re also ambitious. You’re not afraid of hard work, but rather strangely attracted to it. It took all three of these qualities to get you into these elite schools and to succeed while you’re there.
So now what do you do?
Avoid the mainstream
The tech giants are waiting for you with open arms, but they’re already established, and you want to prove you can build something exciting. The consulting firms are prowling campus, talking about “out of the box” thinking, dynamic personalities and how they need you on the front lines. But you have friends in consulting and you don’t want to be a slide-deck monkey and spend your life in airports.
There are always the banks. But if you wanted to work for a bank you would have gone to school on the East Coast. That’s not your cup of tea.
Worst of all, you might be considering law school. Trust me, if you’re meant to be a lawyer, you’ll find your way back to law school with a burning passion for a specific cause. Otherwise, forget about it. It’s not worth the time or the debt.
Of course you’ve thought of startups. You can’t walk through campus without tripping over them. You might even have friends who have joined one, or a roommate who started one.
They rave about the exciting opportunities, the culture and the thrill of building something from the ground up. However, your junior year lasted longer than some of these startups and you need a stable way to pay your student loans and stay out of your parents’ basement.
Banking and consulting are not the only jobs that can give you a paycheck. Just because you don’t want to join a startup doesn’t mean you can’t join a young company with a hyper-growth trajectory.
Lessons from the past
What do I mean by hyper-growth? Take a look at three examples from 15 years ago:
- Google, founded 1998
- PayPal, founded 1998
- Salesforce, founded 1999
To call these companies startups almost does them a disservice. These companies changed entire industries. More importantly for you, they changed the careers of everyone who worked for them.
The diaspora of successful people who launched or continued their careers at these breakout companies is mind blowing – the ex-Googlers, the PayPal Mafia and the Salesforce Alumni.
Joining one of these companies in the first five years is like joining an alumni network just as exclusive as that of your alma mater, if not more so.
In addition to learning with real, hands-on experience how to take and keep a company on a hyper-growth trajectory, you would meet dozens, if not hundreds, of other successful professionals and make a fair amount of money in the process.
And when you’re ready to transition to a new role, you’ll be well positioned to lead one of the hyper-growth companies of the next generation.
It’s not all about career advancement. It’s also about finding the right career. In a typical company, it can take years, if not decades, to have enough experiences to determine what your right career is. But in a hyper-growth company, the experiences come fast and furious, and you’ll naturally select into a role that fits your skills and interests as the only way to survive.
And, despite the heavy load of work at a hyper-growth company, you’ll find yourself thriving, happier and healthier than your friends because you’re pursuing your passion.
Look to the unicorns
How do you find the hyper-growth companies of today? Not just any “unicorn,” but the unicorns that will really breakout and dominate an industry? The ones that will give you a network that rivals the PayPal Mafia. The ones that offer enough experience to find the perfect fit for you, your skills and passions, and a pattern of success you can repeat throughout your career.
My choice, like that of my colleague Dave Boyce, is XANT, which appears on both of these lists and many more. But I’m not just advocating for my company. I’m encouraging you to look past the coasts and consider Utah.
Wealthfront also lists them as the perfect startups to launch a career. All three, in addition to Pluralsight, are listed as “unicorns” — startups with valuations over $1 billion.
But whatever you do, please do not follow the playbook from the 20th century.
Banking and consulting are an easy way for you to waste your talents with mindless hours of spreadsheets and presentations. Rotational programs at large manufacturing or retail companies will take you too long to break free and find the right role for you. Hyper-growth is for you. That’s where talent is needed the most. That’s where you’ll learn the most. That’s where you’ll launch your career the fastest.
Come join my team. Or join another similarly talented team at a hyper-growth company that is changing its industry by creating real value every day. And don’t forget to think about Utah.
Visit the XANT careers page to see all of our job openings.