All posts filed under “How to work at a Startup

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6 Freaky Things About Berlin Startups

Unless “mystery shopper” and “cat sitter”  really count as grownup jobs, it is fair to admit that I never had a job before moving to Germany. I had a family, though, and that family was led by two proud members of your average Italian working class. They took pride in enduring through their working hours for me and my sister, embraced the suffering of it and its discouraging lack of prospects. As I witnessed my parents’ lives, I grew up preparing psychologically for the depressing start of my career, kind of like a criminal prepares for jail time.

After five years in Berlin and more than one tech company on my resume, I can say that working here has been mildly weird, consistently fun and nothing like I was expecting. These are six things that struck me about German tech startups.

1) Quirky Team Names

One thing I’ve learned from the German startup scene, is that descriptive names are so very passé. If you’re hired as an accountant in a tech company, for example, the chances you’ll end up working in the “finance team” are extremely slim. Your team will instead be referred to with the name of an animal/a famous scientist/a made-up native American tribe.   You will attend serious meetings meant to address the concerning performance of the angora rabbits, to contemplate the possibility of new hires among the raccoons or to find a new leader for the alpacas. My scientific guess is that by the year 2025 all the animal names will be taken and startups will have to start exploring uncharted territories, naming their teams after things like sexually transmitted diseases, stripper nicknames, pokemons and toppings you can find on frozen yogurt.

Read the rest of this post on The Local

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How to Write a Cover Letter: The Funny Guide

I wrote this originally for Uberlin

how to write cover letter

Ever wondered why cover letters are called cover letters?

That’s because they’re a cover-up, a fraud, a final attempt to reinforce all the lies you’ve shamelessly written on your resume and spice them up with some hardcore lip service. A good cover letter is something you can’t have your wife and children read without them thinking you’re willing to trade your family for a part-time customer service job at an internet startup.

Now, in order to write a convincing cover letter you have to be able to write a regular one. I know that nobody writes proper letters anymore, but in our childhood we’ve all done it in (at least) two specific circumstances.

 #1 Love Letters

I remember middle school as the place where my first literary attempts took place. All the guys were writing down their hormonal intensity to girls who either wouldn’t let them touch their breasts or didn’t have breasts at all. One of my letters was so successful that a 12 year old girl in my class pulled me aside and kissed me, making death poems suddenly look like a better idea.

#2 Letters to Santa

Growing up in a catholic family, I could either write my Christmas wishes to Santa or to baby Jesus. I always picked the former – very conveniently – assuming that the old man wouldn’t be up to date with my sins. In hindsight I feel like I was never really filled in on the magic of Christmas and as a result all my letters to Santa sounded like financial scam against seniors, as if I had to convince him to spend all his pension for my presents. Also, I probably looked down on Jesus, thinking that a baby born in a cave wouldn’t be able to discern between the real Little Mermaid merchandise and a cheap rip-off.

Anyway, the perfect cover letter takes something from both examples; it has the severe longing of the teenage love letter and the manipulative hidden agenda of the Santa letter; It makes big promises but also claims big rewards; it tells a company that you’ll be their dream, you’ll be their wish, you’ll be their fantasy. You’ll be their hope, you’ll be their love, be everything that they need. You’ll love them more with every breath (truly,  madly, deeply do) you will be strong, you will be faithful ’cause you’re counting on a new beginning, a reason for living, a deeper meaning, yeah.

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Dear NAME_OF_RECRUITER, Read More

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How to Write Your Resume: The Funny Guide

I wrote this originally for Uberlin

If you’ve read the previous chapter of this guide, you should have identified the startup job of your dreams and be ready to apply.

If you haven’t found it, it probably means you’re being too picky and are doomed to become a homeless person while waiting to encounter the perfect job title (“Hairstylist at a horse beauty  contest”)
hairstyle

But let’s assume you are ready to go.

Applying at an internet startup is a delicate process that you can’t afford to fuck up. Your whole career depends on this preliminary phase and in this second chapter of my guide I’ll focus on how to put together a spotless Curriculum Vitae.

STEP 1 – LAYOUT

Once upon a time the reign of CVs was ruled by an evil king called European Model. The European Model states that all the information inside a CV shall be divided into two columns and be presented in the most readable (a.k.a. boring) way possible, as if to proudly scream to the world that we all have OCD.

Then the game changed. Recruiters were getting tired of their job life after hours of going through the same, excruciatingly boring and anonymous documents and at the same time internet startups started understanding the value of differentiation and personality. Read More

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How to Go Through Job Postings: The Funny Guide

I originally wrote this for the awesome Uberlin

 

My mother used to put stuff in boxes. Professionally. She did it for 30 years at the same small-sized suburban Italian company and while the boxes were sent everywhere in the world, my mom and her career weren’t exactly going places.

My dad, the only male among four siblings, had to drop out of middle school to help his father in the fields. Like many of his peers, he learned to think of work as something that is tightly related to suffering, sacrifice and blind obedience.

Whenever I tell my parents about company breakfasts, team building events and gamification, they share a very specific look that I’ve come to interpret as “Our son is lying to us. He doesn’t have a job in Berlin. He’s squatting an abandoned building and carries stolen drugs across countries in order to pay for his groceries”; only when I mention that I occasionally have fun at work the look differs and they seem relieved thinking that I’m actually rich from running an illegal prostitution ring.

But I get that look. I do. Growing up with a blue-collar mindset made me both conscious of my current luck and weirdly aware of the seemingly absurd sides of the startup life.

This series of posts  is the natural consequence of that.

 

CHAPTER 1: JOB POSTINGS

This is going to sound obvious, but in order to work at a startup you need to either found one or be hired by one. I’m going to focus on the latter ’cause I’m a slacker and I’ve made it my life goal to achieve less and less every day.

If you’re smart you’ve probably created alerts that result in receiving an email every time a desirable position is available, either through Google Alerts or through more specific job oriented platforms like Indeed.de or BerlinStartupJobs.com. What you might not know, though, is that when it comes to job titles startups can be as quirky as the side charatcer of an indie tv series.

shoshanna-girls-hairstyles-bun-w724

The chances your alert will be triggered by the keyword “customer relationship manager” are thinner, for example, than the ones for the keyword “Customer Happiness Ninja”. You know what I mean? Read More