A career safety net for making the jump to a startup

By Aaron O'Hearn

Today we have a guest post from Aaron O'Hearn, CEO and Co-founder of Startup Institute, about his journey as a founder.


As we grow the company I've found myself telling our 'founding story' more and more regularly. Whether it's being told to prospective employees, to incoming students, or to people in the community who are curious why we're doing what we're doing - each time I tell it I remind myself of one key element of the story:

The school we're building today is what I desperately wanted for myself two years ago.

For many of us, taking professional risks isn't something our mental psyche supports. It's like seeing your friend jump off a 50ft ledge and splash down in the water below, after what feels like years free falling. You want to follow, it looks exciting and your adrenaline is pumping, but something inside you says, 'woah Aaron, this is still pretty crazy. Could you just walk down the other side and call it a day?'

Now imagine jumping off a cliff where you can't see the water, or anything below you. As far as you can see - you don't have any friends to immediately follow; and even if you did - you couldn't talk about it publicly. No clear landing, no support: this is what many of us will feel when leaving a job in search of doing something we love.

I want to provide a structured framework and support system for people to take that professional jump; and focus on doing something that makes them happy.

Essentially, it's a career safety net. There are people at the top to help you get rigged up with the proper gear to make a smooth landing. And the people at the bottom are all the ones who've jumped before you - and they're holding that net taught to catch you.

What I'm most proud of

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about what gets me the most excited, and what makes me the most proud. For me, and for anyone else who is an adventure sports fan - it's all about the gear. The integrity of the gear is just as important as the willingness to use it. In rock climbing, figuring out what gear you need is simple. Depending on the type of climb you're doing, you use different gear to make sure you're safe, and have an awesome experience.

Substitute 'working for a startup' with climbing; and the preparation becomes much more difficult. It's hard to understand what gear you'll need to be successful working for a startup, and what you'll need to ensure it's the rewarding experience you want it to be. We've been able to do exactly that: create the best gear and couple that with highly structured, yet self directed frameworks that can be used in any professional situation.

The integrity of our gear? The best. It's been proven across more than 100 companies who currently employ one or more of our 300+ alumni.

I'm proud to have created the gear that will enable people all over the globe to conquer, and enjoy making a career transition in to a startup.

Application deadline for Startup Institute's Fall class in Chicago is October 6th. Classes run from October 21st to December 18th.

Apply today or tell someone who should.


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