Lately I’ve been thinking it would be nice to have some income, so I’ve been keeping an eye out for a part-time consulting role that would be a good fit. I explored local consulting companies to be matched with large local corporations but quickly realized I wasn’t ready to go back to that world. I wanted a project I was excited about; a role that would really allow me to make an impact while working with great people. I also wanted a project that would be valuable to my resume and what I’d want to do next if my own startup did not work out. So I turned to other local startups, and ultimately found the ad that would lead to my first consulting gig on… Craigslist.
A lot of people knock craigslist for things like jobs. But the magic of craigslist is that while it requires digging through a huge variety of listings (many questionable), it’s this huge variety that often results in the perfect fit. I attribute my first job out of college to an ad on craigslist (I flew myself to New York for an interview that turned out to be a scam; while I was there I arranged another interview at a startup, and got the job). I also attribute my job at Microsoft to an ad on craigslist – yes, I responded to a Microsoft listing on craigslist (It said 5+ years of experiences, and I had about 1, but I responded anyways). And then, of course, there are the countless apartment, roommate situations and movers. I don’t know who or where I would be without Craigslist.
On the first day I thought to look on craigslist, I found an ad for a marketing consultant at $20/hour. I was about to continue my search when I realized something: I could really help this company. They were getting ready to launch their brand and their first product, and I knew that marketing would make or break the business. I feared the quality they would get for the listed hourly pay. So I responded to see if there was anything I could do to help – even thinking it would be an interesting project to get involved in pro bono. The phone call went really well, we had coffee, and next thing I knew I had a contract not just for marketing consulting, but for end-to-end web design, branding, and marketing. Now I can really make a difference. I’m really excited about the product and the team I’ll be working with – more details to come.
While I was talking to the large consulting companies, something just didn’t feel right. They wanted me to sign up for more hours than I wanted. They wanted me to sign up for a year. While it didn’t feel right, I was still upset that paid work didn’t come along. In contrast, when I started to speak to this startup, the pieces just fell into place. I didn’t have to lie, exaggerate, or sign up for anything I didn’t feel comfortable for. I was extremely open about the fact that my own startup could take me away in 3 months, and we built a plan around it.
- Pursue every lead. If your instinct is not to reply, odds are others like you aren’t going to reply either. Usually, the ad doesn’t tell the whole story.
- Fit first, money later. Forget about money and ask: Is this what you want to work on? Are you qualified? Can you help this company?
- Everything works out – for the best. We don’t know what we’re supposed to do in life, but we do have a good feeling of what we’re not supposed to do. If individual things don’t work out, there may a reason. If you seem to be forcing yourself, if you feel uncomfortable – you should probably be happy it doesn’t work out. It reminds me of the college application process – I was upset when I didn’t get into Stanford early acceptance, but when I found the University of Chicago, I understood it was about the fit.