4 Ways To Start Your Career In Startups

How to get an internship in the St. Louis startup scene.

Tom’s Career Path Into the Ecosystem

As with most recent graduates, Tom McClure had lofty intentions when he finished up at UC-Berkley with a BA in public policy and anthropology this past year. He did not want to settle for a conventional path to public service.

Tom McClure
Tom McClure

Luckily for our local startup scene, that desire for landed him on St. Louis’ doorstep. McClure moved here for FOCUS St. Louis’ CORO Fellows Program, through which he secured an internship with Listo, a St. Louis-based tech startup that developed a language translation app for moviegoers.

With Listo, McClure applied his research skills to help the startup become one of 11 companies to qualify for $50,000 in equity-free funding from Arch Grants.

“I can’t wait to take the entrepreneurial lessons I have learned in the business sector to the public sector,” says McClure who, just last month, began a full-time position as a program associate for Arch Grants.

McClure’s desire to create significant community change is something Ginger Imster, executive director of Arch Grants, sees as prolific among the young people who choose to intern in the startup space.

“For someone who leans toward activism, an internship with a startup takes the complication of community and economic development and makes it tangible. You can really see the impact you make,” says Imster.

“For example, Immunophotonics is working on a cancer vaccine – that is a very real problem. So for an intern, the way in which they are contributing to making the community better is not abstract anymore.”

Elise’s Journey Through Entrepreneurship

Elise_Miller (1)
Elise Miller

The connectivity of the startup community has allowed Elise Miller, an MBA candidate from Washington University, to experience all aspects of the entrepreneurial landscape. Miller has has had internships with Arch Grants, TrackBill (a local technology startup) and Prosper Capital (a capital accelerator program for women entrepreneurs). She is currently working as an analyst for Cultivation Capital, a St. Louis-based venture capital firm.

“You have to put your name out there. There really are so many opportunities,” says Miller who holds entrepreneurial aspirations.

“My biggest takeaway from my experiences has been witnessing the power of entrepreneurship. It can attract new business, jobs and revenues, and also revitalize neighborhoods.”

Looking to get involved in the startup space? Here are five ways:

1. Intern with a startup.

In addition to reaching out to startups directly, there are many aggregators in the area that can help you find open internships. For example, Arch Grants maintains a resume book of internship-seeking candidates to make it easier for startups to connect with young talent in the region.

2. Intern with an entrepreneur support organization.

As Miller mentioned, her experience in entrepreneurship in St. Louis was spurred by her internship with Arch Grants. There are many nonprofits dedicated to providing everything from office space to mentorship. These opportunities can provide very valuable insight into the ecosystem as a whole.

3. Attend networking events.

Every Thursday, Venture Café gathers the best minds in entrepreneurship. It is a great introduction to the people and personalities behind the scene in a relaxed, yet informative setting. 

Also T-REX, a large tech incubator in downtown St. Louis, hosts many events, which showcase the startup scene.

4. Participate in a hackathon.

Started by two St. Louis entrepreneurs, GlobalHack is a local nonprofit dedicated to building a better tech ecosystem through hackathons.

5. Make yourself known.

If Miller’s experience means anything, it is this: the community is welcoming and with the right attitude, you can get plugged into the right opportunity so don’t hesitate to reach out to startups and local support organizations.