You may have that nagging feeling that what you have seen during the recruiting process isn’t quite what you’re looking for. Starting your own business is one of many options, but one that you should give some thought to! There may be non-traditional internships that appeal to you, including working for a startup yourself. However, if you find yourself focusing excessively on a problem you want to solve and entertaining the idea of life as an entrepreneur, investigate by taking these steps:
1. Talk to your classmates: ask around and see if any of your classmates are starting anything. Remember, you don’t have to be the first with the idea, and you don’t have to be the CEO: every business needs people who are enthusiastic about helping and willing to commit the time to get things done. This doesn’t have to be a major commitment – you could always donate a few hours of your time to an interesting idea to see if it is right for you.
2. Informational interviews: MBA programs are graduating entrepreneurs at higher rates than ever before. It may take more effort to get onto the calendar of a recent graduate who’s putting 100 hours a week into his or her new company – but as you know, people are almost always open to talking about what they do, especially with a student from their alma mater. Try to find alums from a year or two ago, as well as from 5-10 years out, to get a real handle on what the path might be if you decide to go this route.
3. Attend entrepreneurship conferences: while one-on-one informational interviews provide illumination, attending conferences will give you the opportunity to hear from a wide range of perspectives. (What’s more, the connections you make there may come in handy down the road if and when you do start your own business!)
4. Join an existing startup: there are fledgling companies out there across industries (and across the country) that would welcome your insights and expertise. Of course, your initial compensation might be lower than that of some of your classmates – but you have the opportunity to negotiate for other considerations, including equity (that could end up paying off significantly at the back end!)
5. Pursue an entrepreneurial role at a traditional organization: sometimes the most traditional-seeming companies are open to very entrepreneurial endeavors. An organization looking to expand its online presence or its global reach, or even to create an entirely new customer offering, will often create a role that allows for significant freedom to, essentially, create a new part of the business!