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Navigating Entry-Level Startup Roles to Launch Your Career

Four collaborators gathered around a laptop, gesturing.
Which seat at the table should you take?

Working in a startup can be a great way to kick start your career or even switch career paths, offering more flexibility in work, job variety, and personal/professional growth. Often, as eager and ready as one may be to join a startup, it’s important to explore where you might fit in, and the types of roles you’ll typically find at a startup. Joining a startup early in its lifecycle may even allow you to develop into and expand the role you start with.

When it comes to hiring and filling certain positions, startups face more challenging tasks than the more traditional corporate setting. The first hires are the foundation on which the startup will be built, so the process tends to be quite selective and the expertise required is quite niche. The first essential roles that are filled can have a great impact on the overall success. Depending on the type of startup’s industry, focus, and goals, these roles usually include the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Operating Officer (COO), Product Manager, Chief Technology Officer, Sales Manager, and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Once the startup has the initial roles down and the startup starts to expand, more defined roles will be put into place and entry-level roles will start to open up.

This guide is especially useful for recent college graduates and Startup Boston hopes that this quick guide will get you excited about some entry-level roles available in a startup that’s heading into the growth stage.

Entry-Level Roles in a Startup

Product Management

Suite of Apple products.
Ship something like this!

The product management team in a startup focuses on ideating, scoping, and delivering a product to align with business goals. Especially for tech startups, the product manager works closely with the engineering and design departments, deeply understanding all aspects of the product to act on market gaps, user feedback, and other growth opportunities. As a quick tip, being able to code or some experience in UX is a big plus in this role, as you’ll be able to build mockups of ideas to better communicate them to the team.


A child screaming into a studio microphone.
Get the word out!

The role of a marketer within a startup is different than traditional marketing roles in the corporate world, advertising industry, and established companies. When filling an entry-level marketing position, startups look for more tech-savvy candidates who are analytical and more data-driven. You may hear the role referred to as a “growth hacker” and it can include tasks such as; optimizing SEO/SEM, handling web design, email marketing, social campaigns.

Sales/Account Management/Customer Service

A handshake between two people.
Close the deal, maintain the relationship!

Sales roles in a startup require you to take on a lot more responsibilities than a traditional sales position. From lead generation, closing deals, managing accounts, and doing a lot of post-deal customer success tasks, you are responsible for driving revenue and crafting the strategies to do so. It’s critical for startups to build long-lasting relationships with customers, having a great team of professionals to help with nurturing clients post-sales is essential for the first years of growth. You’ll be essentially helping the startup build their brand along with identifying new business opportunities while maintaining relationships.

Financial Operations

A pen, calculator, glasses, and charts on paper.
Keep the books balanced, runway long, and funds rolling!

As startups grow, it’s important to hire individuals with a background in finance to build correct procedures, it won’t always be the founder handling the tasks that keep the lights on and establish a runway suited to scale. This role tackles tasks such as: invoicing, accounts receivable, bookkeeping, expenditures, tax payments and strategy, resource allocation, etcetera and is a great entry-level position for anyone looking to grow their career.

Startup Boston is hosting a Bootcamp: “Spring into Startups: A How-To for Taking the Plunge” on May 21, 2021, with some great professionals who are ready to help support and empower you during your job search. Check it out here.


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