Creating Your Own Career
On finding the jobs that don't exist
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There are two sets of jobs in this world.
The first set exists on company websites and LinkedIn job boards. These jobs often leverage recruiters to help them find worthy candidates, many of them pay high salaries, and a few might offer compelling equity upside. Some of these jobs, like prerequisites to take 200-level classes in college, are stepping stones to other, loftier jobs.
Then there is another set of jobs. These jobs don’t live on company websites and job boards. In fact, these jobs don’t exist at all, or at least, they don’t exist at all yet, because they aren’t roles waiting to be filled. They are opportunities that have yet to be created.
Jobs in this latter group materialize when someone with a specific skillset encounters someone with a specific need, and both parties realize that they have the opportunity to work together. Click, it’s a perfect fit.
In the past, these opportunistic jobs were rare because they relied on luck. It took a glitch in the matrix to bring the right people together under the right circumstances at the right time.
With the internet, you can influence this matrix by broadcasting a digital version of yourself to eight billion others. Those eight billion people represent eight billion possible opportunities, and all you need is one to work. Individuals who best leverage the internet don’t find jobs, they create careers.
The formula for leveraging the internet works something like this:
Work on something interesting, and tell the world about it
Keep iterating and improving your “thing” until you are known for it
Attract an audience of other interesting folks building their own “thing”
When you see someone else’s “thing” that might complement your “thing,” shoot them a message and see what they are working on
A few examples of this formula working in my own life:
Editor-in-Chief: Exec Sum
In June 2021, I was sitting by my pool, Corona Light in hand, looking for the perfect Spotify playlist for an afternoon of day drinking. As I switched from Spotify to Twitter to Instagram, I noticed that the popular finance meme page “Litquidity” had posted a link to his hand-crafted Spotify playlist, “Litquidity’s Hampton Day Sauce,” on his Instagram story.
The playlist, accurately named, was indeed saucy, and the next morning, I thanked Litquidity for curating an immaculate set of vibes. This exchange then became a month of back-and-forth song recommendations.
Fast forward two months later, and I had decided to purchase a one-way ticket to Barcelona and spend the next year traveling to God-knows-where until I started business school in August 2022. We love a quarter-life crisis, no?
While I had some money saved up from a fortuitous pandemic-era stock trading run, I realized that I would still feel better if I had some level of income hitting my bank account while I was gone. How did I intend to make this money while hostel-hopping in Spain?
By writing online.
Armed with an impressive portfolio of 8 freelance pieces published on the investing site Seeking Alpha and a few satirical posts on the now-defunct site Hard Money, I applied for a few different remote writing jobs with the media company Morning Brew, investing site The Motley Fool, and venture capital firm Collaborative Fund.
I received a grand total of 0 offers, which, to be honest, should have been expected given my lackluster writing experience. I was facing the chicken-or-egg dilemma of early-stage employment: I needed experience to get hired, but I needed to get hired to get experience. I launched a finance blog called Young Money to create my own experience, and I planned on blogging for a few months before reapplying for those same roles.
Around this time, I noticed that Litquidity did more than make memes and curate bangers into Spotify playlists. He also ran a pretty large daily finance newsletter, Exec Sum. Instead of shooting over another Mr. Brightside remix to add to the playlist, I told him I wanted to write for him, and I sent over some examples of my work.
My timing was fortunate: At that point, Exec Sum had ~90,000 subscribers, managing the content and different advertisers were both full-time jobs, Lit had largely been running the operation on his own, and he was about to migrate email platforms.
A couple of months later, he was paying me to handle daily editorial duties and write long-form sponsored pieces that we would feature in our newsletter. Since then, we have grown the newsletter to 263,000+ readers.
Wrote online, shared my content, and applied to different jobs
Started my own blog after realizing I needed more reps, developed my voice
Connected with a large account on Twitter that had scaled a large newsletter
Proposed working for this large account, shared my blog posts as a proof of concept
InfraRed Newsletter: Redpoint
After returning from a Europe trip two months ago, panic set in as I thought about my post-business school plans (or lack thereof). While Exec Sum and Young Money were still doing well, I didn’t want to get pigeonholed in my current thing, and I felt like I had a way-too-small window to figure stuff out while I was still in school, or I was toast.
After frantically revising my resume for the first time since 2020 and scanning Columbia’s career services site for job openings, I decided that I should, at a minimum, see if anyone in my current network was working on anything cool. That’s when I noticed that Josh, a partner at Redpoint Ventures, and I followed each other on Twitter.
I’ve followed Redpoint for a while, and they were one of the few venture capital firms aggressively publishing video and audio content (they have a big TikTok and Instagram presence, and one of their partners, Logan, has built a popular tech podcast). I knew that Josh was responsible for a lot of their content, but after exploring Redpoint’s website, I also noticed that they weren’t regularly publishing written work.
I asked Josh if he wanted to grab a coffee to talk shop, and we met for lunch. I planned to ask how he had leveraged his media chops to enter the VC world (he spent a decade working for Nasdaq before joining Redpoint), but off the bat, he told me that I’d reached out at the perfect time because he wanted to chat with me about newsletters.
Building out an editorial arm just so happened to be his next goal for Redpoint’s content, and after 30 minutes of exchanging ideas back-and-forth, I asked, “What if I lead this project for y’all?”
Just like that, I found another job that didn’t exist that morning. (And, as a result, I spent 15 hours this weekend reading about large language models, open-source software, and the history of cloud infrastructure.)
Back to the formula:
Wrote Young Money for two years and helped scale Exec Sum to 250k+ readers
Developed a unique voice with my content across Twitter, Linkedin, and my newsletter
Realized that someone in my Twitter network was responsible for a lot of the content being produced by their well-known VC firm
Saw an opening to leverage my writing/newsletter skills to help this firm expand its content library
There are a million jobs out there waiting to be brought to life by the right people crossing paths at the right time, and the internet amplifies your chances of making one of those connections.
While this formula works for writers, it isn’t just for writers. Startup founders, coders, graphic designers, writers, accountants, and folks of all professions foster relationships on Twitter and LinkedIn that lead to valuable work opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have existed.
Getting your name out there and leveraging those opportunities is how you create your own career on the internet.
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