Career Planning Advice


I was going through post of Marc Andreessen and I found few interesting points that I would like to share.Below are some quotes from the post.

Pick an industry where the founders of the industry — the founders of the important companies in the industry — are still alive and actively involved.

This is easy to figure out — just look at the CEO, chairman or chairwoman, and board of directors for the major companies in the industry.

If the founders of the companies are currently serving as CEO, chairman or chairwoman, or board member of their companies, it’s a good industry to enter. It is probably still young and vital, and there are probably still opportunities to exploit all over the place, either at those companies or at new companies in that industry.

If not — if the industry’s founders are dead, or old and out of touch — beware. That industry is now dominated by companies that are being run by second or third or even fourth generation managers who inherited their companies pre-built, and are serving as caretakers.

Never worry about being a small fish in a big pond. Being a big fish in a small pond sucks — you will hit the ceiling on what you can achieve quickly, and nobody will care. Optimize at all times for being in the most dynamic and exciting pond you can find. That is where the great opportunities can be found.

Apply this rule when selecting which company to go to. Go to the company where all the action is happening.

Or, if you are going to join a startup or start your own company, always make sure that your startup is aimed at the largest and most interesting opportunity available — the new markets that are growing fast and changing rapidly.

In a rapidly changing field like technology, the best place to get experience when you’re starting out is in younger, high-growth companies.

(This is not necessarily true in older and more established industries, but those aren’t the industries we’re talking about.)

here are a bunch of great things that you get when you go to a younger, high-growth company:

  • You’ll get to do lots of stuff. There will be so much stuff to do in the company that you’ll be able to do as much of it as you can possibly handle. Which means you’ll gain skills and experience very quickly.
  • You’ll probably get promoted quickly. Fast-growing companies are characterized by a chronic lack of people who can step up to all the important new leadership jobs that are being created all the time. If you are aggressive and performing well, promotions will come quickly and easily.
  • You’ll get used to being in a high-energy, rapidly-changing environment with sharp people and high expectations. It’s like training for a marathon while wearing ankle weights — if you ever end up going to a big company, you’ll blow everyone away. And if you ever go to a startup, you’ll be ready for the intensity.
  • Reputational benefit. Having Silicon Graphics from the early 90’s, or Netscape from the mid-90’s, or eBay from the late 90’s, or Paypal from the early 00’s, or Google from the mid-00’s on your resume is as valuable as any advanced degree — it’s a permanent source of credibility.

In contrast to going to a big company: working for a big company teaches you how to work for big companies. The way things work at a big company is usually unique to big companies. So, working for a big company is often a statement that you plan to spend your career at big companies — and lots of people are very happy doing that, but I doubt that’s your intention or you wouldn’t be reading this post.

In contrast to going to a startup: when you are first starting your career, you should realize that raw startups are highly variable in terms of the experiences you will have. Some can be great, but many are very poorly managed and go nowhere. You will probably be better off going somewhere that’s already succeeding, gain skills and experience, and then go to a startup.

In contrast to going to a mediocre small or mid-sized company that’s not growing: those are great places to go if you don’t want to go anywhere yourself. If you find yourself stuck in one, either figure out how to get the company unstuck and on a fast growth path, or get yourself unstuck.

Don’t just be a “summertime soldier” — don’t go someplace because it’s already successful, and then bail when things get tough.

Any hiring manager for the rest of your career will be able to read that on your resume just by looking at the dates.

High-growth companies virtually always hit speed bumps, or even huge potholes. Stuff goes wrong. Going through the experience of gutting through the hard parts and coming out the other end will be a key part of your real-world education and will serve you very well down the road, especially if you ever start your own company.

Then, once you’ve racked up killer skills and experiences at a high-growth company, feel free to go to a startup.

Picking which startup to join probably deserves its own post. However, in a nutshell, look for one where you understand the product, see how it might fit into a very large market, and really like and respect the people who are already there.

Or, start your own company.

If your startup fails, try another one. If that one fails, get back into a high-growth company to reset your resume and get more skills and experiences. Then start another company. Repeat as necessary until you change the world.


2 thoughts on “Career Planning Advice

  1. kunalkushwaha

    Hi Anne,

    Thanks that you like the blog. But this blog is my personal blog, and I normally write things related to myself and related to my work. But your idea is nice, I think you should start one blog dedicated to such things and let me know if I can be of any help 🙂

    Kunal Kushwaha

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