By: Lorne Bobren, Technology & Design Career Community Advisor

A recent study by Glassdoor found that nearly half of all job openings at tech companies are for non-technical roles. So, if you are craving that startup environment but don’t know Python from PHP, that’s ok!

In looking at the job functions listed below, be aware that there is often crossover between different roles. For example, sometimes the title of Project Manager is used interchangeably with that of a Product Manager. Use these categories as broad entry points that will help you get started.

Business Development

Do you consider yourself a people person? There will always be a strong need for sales and business development in the startup community. This could mean brokering a deal with another business to make your company’s product more widely available or pursuing leads to connect with new clients.

  • Business development could encompass both inside sales (phone and email communication), along with outside sales (face-to-face meetings and networking)
  • A good salesperson doesn’t need to know how the product works, but they should know the product thoroughly in order to answer questions and alleviate potential concerns from a new client.

If you can build trust and personal relationships through your interactions, you’re well on your way to being successful in business development.

Product Management

A product manager is often in charge of designing the overall look of a product. Typical duties include:

  • Wireframing to mockup a product’s appearance,
  • Designing user flows or journey maps to show how an end user may move through a service or site
  • Communicating with engineers and designers to create updates
  • Collaborating with marketing to determine the best way to introduce a new product or updates to a customer

While a product manager won’t be the one doing the coding, they should be tech-savvy enough to understand the limitations and possibilities of what the software development team can do. 

Project Management

The project manager ensures accurate planning and forecasting throughout a product life cycle. They oversee the project to make certain that it comes in on time and on budget. They often act as a buffer between company executives and the development team. A good project manager knows how to oversee and communicate with multidisciplinary teams, manage resources, has excellent negotiation skills, and is proficient at strategic planning.

Customer Support/Account Management

Once new customers have been acquired, they are usually handed off to the customer support or account management team. Working in customer support means making sure that the client stays a client.

  • A good account manager (or customer support specialist, user evangelist, customer advocate, etc.) will frequently touch base with clients to ensure they are satisfied with their experience.
  • The account manager may also be involved in product training, troubleshooting, dealing with policy issues and collecting feedback.

Customer support staff play an integral role in improving a company’s product because they are the most in tune with customer needs, wants and concerns. They should also be intimately familiar with the product so that they can easily relay any information or help the customer is seeking.

Community Management

A community manager’s duties may vary by organization but their primary role is to help customers feel appreciated and connected to the product, the company, and each other. As the name implies, this person is responsible for growing and cultivating an organization’s community. This can be done via managing social media, creating blog content, organizing events, and motivating users to give feedback.

In a small company, both community management and customer support may be run by the same person.

Marketing and Public Relations

Marketing and PR overlap heavily, and they may be in the same department depending on the size of the company. Since a marketing budget in a startup will be much smaller than at a large firm, you’ll need to be strategic and creative. An expert marketer is also a strong writer who can put together engrossing and succinct ad copy. What’s key here is the ability to break down complicated ideas and technical jargon in ways that are easily digestible for your target audience. Marketing departments can help articulate essential questions for a tech firm: Who is your target audience? How does the product or service help them? Are they even aware they need it?

 

The Career Center will support you in a variety of ways including connecting you with employers through networking events and job fairs as well as providing individual career advising. Many students visit us for mock interview practice, feedback on resume and cover letter writing, and to ask questions about navigating the job search process. We can also help you explore how your interests, values, skills, and personality fit into different careers.

Schedule a career advising appointment on Handshake today!