6 Non-Tech Roles at Most Tech Startups

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!

DePaul Diaries: Life as an Administrative and Marketing Intern

By: Renee Radzom, DePaul University graduate, former University Internship Program (UIP) assistant

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.

Jordan Krpan, a DePaul finance student, spent his last quarter at DePaul interning at Alexander J. Wayne & Associates Inc. as an administrative and marketing intern. Jordan found this opportunity through DePaul’s Handshake platform, which is a robust database students can use to find jobs, internships, career events and more. I sat down with Jordan to get the scoop about his internship experience, what it was like working in administration and marketing, and how he made the most of what he learned.

Originally, Jordan’s role at A.J. Wayne was working on administrative tasks, specifically dabbling in compliance and assisting with new customer submissions. However, after he settled into his role, Jordan began to inquire about more responsibilities and how he could be an asset to the team—leading to him taking on marketing projects and developing content for the company website.

Jordan’s experience at A.J. Wayne was an enlightening one. He said his favorite part was the people because they made the environment a great place to learn and grow. He also enjoyed the ability to step outside of his comfort zone and dive into new projects.

“I didn’t take many classes in marketing or coding, so it was a refreshing challenge tackling those projects,” Jordan said.

In addition to this internship experience, Jordan took a University Internship Program (UIP) course to fulfill his Experiential Learning requirement before graduation, and to get the most out of his internship experience. He took UIP 252: Creativity as a Change Agent in the Workplace. The class encourages students to reflect upon the history of creative innovations in the workplace and how they relate to leadership, communication, ethics and more. Jordan said his biggest takeaway from UIP 252 was that it helped him find “creative answers to complex problems.”

Jordan said his biggest takeaway from UIP 252 was that it helped him find creative answers to complex problems.

Overall, Jordan said he really enjoyed everything his internship and UIP course offered. His one piece of advice for future interns: “Pick up special projects when you can. It can make your day a whole lot more interesting in the short term and give you an opportunity to make a good impression in the long term.”

Learn more about the University Internship Program or send inquiries to UIP@depaul.edu. Need help finding an internship? Visit depaul.joinhandshake.com, or come into the Career Center to meet with your advisor.

Key Characteristics, Skills a Social Media Professional Needs

Social media has become an integral part of practically every company’s marketing strategy. In an ever-evolving field, companies rely on cutting edge professionals to manage their social media platforms, engage with consumers, and build their brand. If you ever thought that working in social media sounded intriguing, but were unsure how to get started, then you are in the right place.

In order to find a job in social media, it’s important to first understand exactly what a social media coordinator does. Will you be getting paid to hang out on Facebook and Twitter all day? Well…yes, but there is definitely more to it than that. You’ll be managing a company’s social media presence across multiple platforms, most commonly Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and LinkedIn. You’ll be responsible for creating and writing interesting and original content on a daily basis, researching audience metrics, and possibly developing other non-written content, including video and audio clips. You’ll also be directly engaging with your audience and looking for ways to expand your brand’s following. You may be asked to find creative ways to build that brand through promotions, contests, or whatever else you can come up with.

Now that you know what working in social media actually means, let’s take a look at some key characteristics or skills you’ll need to get noticed by an employer.

Social media buff and content creator:

If you want to be a company’s social media coordinator, you need to have an impressive social media profile. The first thing an employer will do after receiving your application is review your social media accounts. If your personal social media platforms are stagnant, poorly written or unprofessional, then why would a company trust you to manage their own social media presence? You need to show that you can write original content, engage with your followers, and stay updated on trends in social media.

Tech-savvy trendsetter with a killer instinct for community engagement:

There are a lot of great ways to use social media to your advantage, but for breaking into the field of social media marketing specifically, you should focus on writing original posts, following influencers and actively engaging with those already working in the field. Retweet and reply to posts and articles written by social media professionals in order to start building relationships with people. Make sure you stay well informed on new social media platforms, and know how to use new features that get rolled out on existing services. Remember to use a variety of platforms rather than just one or two. Employers want to see that you are a tech-savvy trendsetter who is eager to learn about and use the latest and greatest tools that are out there.

Guided by analytics, metrics and KPIs:

Consider familiarizing yourself with data utilization software and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Free services like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, and Twitter Analytics provide detailed breakdowns of your audience and how they are engaging with the social media platforms you run. Make sure you understand not just how they work, but what they actually measure – such as post engagement, impressions, reach, demographics and follower growth.

Designer and blogger:

Market yourself as a jack-of-all-trades; become adept at photo and video editing, some basic html coding, and WordPress. The more you’re capable of doing, the more trust and responsibility you’ll ultimately be given.

Most importantly, you should constantly be writing. If you don’t already have a blog, consider starting one. The more you write, the sharper your writing will become. And, in a field where your primary function is to write clearly and concisely, a large stockpile of writing samples will be your ultimate key to success.

These tips provide a great way to kickstart your career goals, but there is always more to learn. If you have any lingering questions or you’ve done all of the above and want to know what to do next, make an appointment with your DePaul career advisor today!

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Financial Services Intern

By: Claire Zhang, DePaul University finance and marketing major ‘17

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.

The first thing that may come to mind when envisioning a career in financial services is the typical image of “Corporate America;” feeling trapped, sitting in a cubicle every work day from 9 to 5, and violently yet routinely typing away on a computer. While this perception may prove to be accurate at certain corporate jobs, my experience with Discover Financial Services was far from this scenario.

With all the innovations in payment services and banking, working in financial services is very fast-paced and the industry is constantly changing. I worked in three different areas: Rewards, E-Business, and Card Acquisitions. Despite the team I was working with, the majority of our projects revolved around digital innovations.

One of my roles as an intern was working with the mobile wallets team (e.g. Apple Pay, Android Pay, etc.). Because the mobile payments space still has a long way to go before it is widely adopted by consumers, much of my role entailed exploring various marketing tactics to encourage higher usage. From physically testing out mobile payments at the point-of-sale, to analyzing consumer usage data, my 40-hour workweeks flew by.

One of the key takeaways from my internship is that it is not necessarily the industry that matters, but the work that you do within that industry. The experiences taught me to keep an open mind. Remember, any experience, no matter if you enjoyed it or not, is still an experience that you can learn something from. Being a young professional, there are few things more valuable than discovering true passions. Internship, volunteer, or job experiences, whether they are positive or not, will help you shape a career that is meaningful to you.

My advice to other students is to try to go into their respective industries without any bias. Do you accept the challenge?

4 Opportunities to Mingle with Top Recruiters This Winter

By: Tara Golenberke, marketing professional in the education industry, and former digital media & marketing manager at the DePaul Career Center

If one of your goals this year is to build a more career-ready you, here are upcoming events that will help you gain exposure to recruiters, learn about open positions and get noticed from top professionals.

Go kick butt this winter.

Careers in Technology
January 25  |  5-7 p.m.  |  DePaul Center, DePaul Club, 11th floor

Interested in exploring career paths with professionals in the technology industry? At this event, you will have the opportunity to gain insights into the tech trade and its career paths, and participate in round table discussions with representatives from Microsoft, Razorfish, Intel Security, Citigroup and more. Get the details, here.

Winter Internship Fair
February 10  |  10 a.m.-2 p.m.  |  Lincoln Park Student Center, 120AB

All DePaul students and alumni are welcome to participate in this career fair. Recruiters from multiple industries will be seeking qualified candidates for internships in a variety of capacities. Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with representatives from Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, CME Group, Hyatt Hotels, US Foods and others. Plan ahead and learn more.

Education Fair Consortium
March 1  |  3-6 p.m.  |  Lincoln Park Student Center, 120AB

DePaul is teaming up with the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University to bring employers, schools and districts to our campus; these employers are seeking teachers, administrators, advisors and counselors for current and future openings in all areas and levels of education. Visit the event in March, and start networking with top representatives in education. Learn more, here.

Creative Job & Internship Fair
March 7  |  3-6 p.m.  |  DePaul Center, Concourse Level

This mini career fair presents a unique opportunity to network and connect with creative industry professionals and recruiters. At this event, you will learn about current and future full-time, part-time and internship positions. Students majoring in animation, design, cinema, journalism, marketing and music, to name a few, are encouraged to attend. Discover which employers will be attending by visiting Handshake.

The DePaul Career Center hosts career-related events, workshops and fairs all year long. Keep an eye on Handshake and be the first to know about upcoming career events on campus, and around Chicago.

DePaul Diaries: Life as a Tech PR Intern

By: Chloe Leuthaeuser, DePaul University communications and media major ‘17

DePaul Diaries is a day-in-the-life blog series written by DePaul students. The series unveils DePaulians’ experiences as interns in their field of choice. Students share their honest thoughts about their experiences, what they learned as an intern and advice for students who are interested in the same field.

The last three months as a public relations intern in San Francisco at MSLGroup have been a whirlwind. But, as the popular saying goes, all good things must come to an end, including internships. So, what is being a tech PR intern all about? Let me tell you a little bit about living and working in San Francisco.

Applying to internships with a variety of top tier PR firms around Chicago was stressful. But, I honed in on a select few places that really interested me and took my time with those applications. For the MSLGroup application, they asked me to select three locations; I chose Chicago, New York and then went wild and chose San Francisco. To my shock, I got called to take part in their San Francisco Summer Insider’s Challenge Day, which is a fancy name for their internship interview process.

The Challenge Day was an 8-hour group interview with seven people. I was warned it was like a shark tank, so needless to say, I was nervous. However, the morning of the interview, I took a deep breath, went in confident and ended up having fun—I know, I sound crazy. The rest was history; after spring quarter, I moved to San Francisco to embark on a new journey.

As a quick point of reference, MSLGroup is a global PR firm with nine offices in the U.S. and is Publicis Groupe’s strategic communications and engagement company. Each office caters to a different market. So, for example, Detroit works heavily in the automotive industry, New York and Chicago are more in the consumer and corporate industry, and San Francisco is primarily technology.

Due to the niche markets, most of the client teams I worked with were in a technology or healthcare-related field. This was totally new for me—I’m not a tech person! Even though I do not see myself continuing in the tech industry, I learned an incredible amount from my experience. It was well worth stepping outside of my comfort zone to orient myself within the world of technology.

So what did I really do? As you probably hear most PR professionals say, every day is different. And although that was true, I also had regular clients, meetings and assignments. Each morning I would complete several industry news searches for clients, sweep for recent client coverage, and update a series of metric grids. Throughout the day I attended internal and client meetings—taking notes and absorbing everything I could—and completed a series of ongoing projects such as blog posts, briefing books, media lists, new business research, and even a video series!

What was the best part of my internship? Exploring a new city was incredible, but internship-wise, working closely with the managing director of the western region/global strategy lead on a series of impact videos definitely takes the cake. My fellow intern and I were given full control over a video series that was promoted to California legislators to garner their vote on a critical piece of housing legislation. We went to the interviews, transcribed content, drafted storyboards, wrote scripts, came up with social media plans, and offered suggestions for the final cut. You can check out the final video here!

What were the top things I learned? Well, if I were to boil it down, I think these are my biggest takeaways:

  • You can learn something from every experience and every person
  • A positive attitude will get you far
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone to try something different is worth it
  • Your hard work will not go unnoticed, so give every task your best no matter how small or trivial the assignment may seem

Want to learn more about Chloe’s internship experiences and career exploration? Connect with her on LinkedIn!