Silicon Prairie News

Not a techie? Not a problem. Finding the ‘write’ fit at the Startup Job Crawl

Des Moines February 10, 2012 by Guest Contributor

About the author: Riane Menardi works for Des Moines-based Torsion Mobile in partner support, a job she landed after attending the SPN Startup Job Crawl in November. For more about Menardi, see the note that follows this post. For more about our Feb. 15 Omaha Startup Job Crawl, visit our registration page

The Des Moines Startup Job Crawl in November (above) opened Riane Menardi's eyes to the regional startup scene — and her new job. 

In early November, I had no idea that the Midwest had a startup presence — heck, I think I had to look up what exactly a “startup” was after I saw a tweet about the Startup Job Crawl. I was clueless, but intrigued about this four-hour, tech-industry networking event.

As a 2011 Drake grad, I was desperate for a steady paycheck, but hesitant to leave the comfortable world of print media publishing. I was a magazines and news-Internet major, and a girl determined to be a writer, editor or social media specialist for a print publication. At the time, I was interning for Meredith Corporation, with the notion that it’d be a stepping-stone to a full-time writer/editor job.

So a Startup Job Crawl seemed like a lark.

The SUJC signup page confirmed that I was an outsider. My ticket options:

  1. Developer/Engineer
  2. Business
  3. Design/Artist
  4. Something else completely

Sign me up for #4.

As a good journalist, I set to work doing research. I followed the startups on Twitter and made initial contact. (Me: Hey, I like what you’re doing! Looking forward to meeting in person at the Startup Job Crawl. Them: Absolutely! See you there. Be sure to stop and say hey.) Gold.

I found startups with jobs for my skills — including a “partner support” position at a company called Torsion Mobile. I applied, adding that I’d also be at the Startup Job Crawl. The response: “Well, you get the gold star for having the most enthusiastic cover letter we’ve received to date.” I took that as a good sign.

"In early November, I had no idea that the Midwest had a startup presence — heck, I think I had to look up what exactly a 'startup' was after I saw a tweet about the Startup Job Crawl."

On Nov. 16, I entered a room full of bright-eyed developers, designers, website builders, etc. When I said I was a writer, the response was, “Are there jobs for writers here?” Good question. As the crawling started, that became my opening line. I asked the fine folks at StartupCity, Goodsmiths, Bitmethod, Locusic, SmartyPig, Dwolla and Torsion Mobile, among others — and the resounding answer was "YES, we need you."

In fact, most of them were glad I asked. This is an industry full of designers, developers and business people, but entrepreneurs are the first to ask for help when they don’t have skills that YOU do. They know they can’t do it alone.

At the end of the night I had a pocket full of business cards and a new outlook on careers, innovation, collaboration and community. And for the next month I scheduled meetings with these people, exploring how we could collaborate. Many of them became close professional contacts — and one even wanted to hire me.

I’m now doing lead partner support for Torsion Mobile, the company I applied to before the crawl. I work with five brilliant coworkers, and we launched our first product, Mojaba, this week.

Obviously the job crawl worked for me — but don’t just take my word for it. See for yourself, and, if you’re so inclined, take my advice for landing a job:

  • Do research ahead of time. Find out what companies will be there and what you’re interested in. Reach out — even if they’re not hiring — because they might be hiring soon. The more you can stand out, the better, and early contact is a great way to do that. If you do find a job you like, apply before the big night.
  • Bring business cards. It’s professional — and a great way to get remembered (or introduced). I bought business cards from Vistaprint for about $20 the week before the job crawl. And I still get emails from people saying, “I know we didn’t meet at the job crawl, but someone passed your card on to me.” That tangible bit of paper can make contacts long after you’re gone.
  • Be social. Talk to people. Ask questions. Hold their attention for longer than others in your group. Be engaging and care about what they do. The people I remember most from the job crawl were engaged and passionate in their conversations — and I’ve seen many of them bumming around Silicon 6th since then.
  • Meet your peers. These are people you want to know — they’re smart, unconventional and hardworking. And if you get to know each other early, who knows what kind of projects you’ll be collaborating on someday.
  • Stay for the whole thing. Even if your face is numb from four hours of smiling, meet as many people as you can. You’ll be surprised at the amount of creativity and innovation you find — and you never know which company you’ll click with. Could be the last guy on the list.

And, of course, just have fun. Good luck, and feel free to get in touch with me if you have more questions or want to connect.

About the author: Riane Menardi does partner support for Torsion Mobile and loves every minute of startup life. When she's not reading up on mobile trends and helping creative agencies use Mojaba, Riane practices yoga and pens the stories of interesting people.

You can find her on Twitter, @rianeM.

Image credits: Photo of Startup Job Crawl by Brittany Mascio. Photo of Menardi from

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