Breaking into tech startups without tech skills

Tech Startups Without Tech Skills

First off, it’s hard to get non-technical jobs at a tech startups. I’m just basing that off of my experience trying to get testing jobs at tech companies.

Software testing is technical but you don’t see job openings for it until the company has at least 20 people. It can be pretty challenging.

It feels like in the early days of a tech startup, most of the open position are technology focused. You’ll see positions for programmers, engineers, data scientists, developer operations, things like that.

There just aren’t a lot of non-technical jobs available. So through basic supply and demand you can see why the jobs are always difficult to get into.

Here are two suggesting from Justin Kan‘s Snapchat Story, that could help out. Justin is a Partner at Y Combinator, co-founder of and He recently helped launch a Q&A app called Whale 🐋. It’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about early stage startups.

Learn how to program

If you can’t beat them join them. You can avoid the low supply of non-technical startup jobs by picking up a new skill like programming. After that break into the tech scene from the other side should be easier.

There are many ways to learn how to code. You could be self-taught, sign up for an online course, joining a code camp, find a personal tutor, just to name a few.

Right now I would suggest following online tutorials / book to start out. And then start attempting to build your own simple application or cloning another application.

Just get your foot in the door

So you don’t want to learn coding. Justin suggest that you just try to get any job at a startup and then move horizontally.

I ended up doing this to get my first job at a startup and I already had a Computer Science degree. I started in customer support, and then worked into manual testing. After that I became a software developer in test all within the same startup.

You could do the same thing. Getting an entry-level sales job then moving over to product management for example.

There are a few benefits to moving inside through the company. After a startup hires you you’ve got a many advantages over anyone else they try to hire.

First they know you’re a cultural fit. They also don’t have to pay recruiting cost. The Startup doesn’t have to worry about training you on the product. There’s little to no new HR overhead. And the Startup can low ball your salary because they already know what you make. So you’ll save the Startup money.

Just do

My guts telling me that we should just start doing more of the things we want. If I want to be a great software developer I just need to start coding more.

If you want to break into the startup tech scene, you need to start doing more in that area. Just keep moving forward.

What have you started to do lately?

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