Ask a group of recent grads where they’re now working, and a good portion will answer, “a startup.” Once an industry word for small business, the term now connotes an exciting entrepreneurial lifestyle more and more college educated youths are choosing.
Currently, 47% of Generation Y work in companies with less than 100 employees. Entrepreneurial studies is the third most popular major for millennials, who are 1.82 times more likely to study entrepreneurship than other generations. In New York city alone, 82 startups have received more than $10 million in financing since 2007, according to the New York City Economic Development Corp, while the New York State Department of Labor noted a 10% rise in high-tech employment over the past five years.
“A lot of people in the Ivy League end up going into banking and consulting and a lot of people end up liking it, but I don’t find many people that are as excited to talk about where they’re working as I am,” said Ron Shapiro, an Android developer at mobile payments startup Venmo, who graduated from Columbia in May.
In a recent FORBES post, Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg quoted a Dartmouth undergrad who dubbed the decision to head into finance and consulting “a tragedy of wasted minds.”
“Millennials want to know how they will make a positive difference in the world if they join your business,” Salzberg explained.
Many of the recent graduates I spoke with chose startups because they felt doing so let them contribute meaningfully to a business while also seeing end results – something consultants rarely get to do. They also pointed to the non-hierarchical structure of startups, which many said enabled them to learn a broad range of skills very quickly, rather than specializing in one area as entry-level finance jobs permit. Most importantly, however, they spoke about impact, and a desire to create value in their lives and the lives of others.