A couple of years ago we started building a program called Startup Life. Linda & Kristo were setting things up in the San Francisco Bay Area while I was working in Helsinki. Those couple of years have passed by. Swiftly, I might add.
Back then, when we started, we had nothing formal: no application processes, no startups – let alone students who might be interested in what we do. We just had an idea of building a program that would get people excited about working for startups and maybe, eventually, they would build their own success stories.
You see, in Finland, we’ve had really talented people who’ve been building things like IRC, SSH, Linux and MySQL. Lately, we, the students, have gone to work for bigger companies such as Nokia or some consulting firms. Maybe the reason for that has been a status thing, maybe it’s a tradition or just considered to be good career planning. Well, whatever it was, it made us Finns really good at managing stuff but not so much at building and shipping great products.
So we figured that working for a startup would force us to put our hands in the mud and start shaping it. We would be working again with our team against all odds for survival, for success. And most definitely, we’d be learning a lot.
We started building a program that people would love.. And.. they did. During the time 1,5 years Startup Life has been organized, we’ve helped over 50 students to land an internship position at over 30 startup companies. The internships have typically been 3 months but it’s exciting to share that over 60% of the interns have stayed with their company at least for 6 months. Some of the alumni have started their own companies.
I made my last Startup Life trip to California a couple of weeks back with Mikko who is now in charge of the program. While in the Bay Area, we handpicked companies to take part in the program. Startups you would like to work for and teams you would want to be part of. Those teams that will put you out of your comfort zone and make you go the extra mile.
I’m grateful for the time I’ve gotten to spent working on Startup Life. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with exceptional people and being part of a great team. Sure there’s always ups and downs, but experiencing success and failure often goes hand in hand.
One last thought: If you’re a student or a recent university graduate, you like learning a ton and having fun while doing so, you should most definitely apply for the next batch. It might actually change your life.