I'm a computer science student at Bristol University in the UK, and I'm looking to work for a startup when I graduate, as I have always had a strong interest in business and feel working for a startup and helping it succeed will teach me the skills to launch my own business eventually. I was just wondering what skills employers look for in potential employees at startups and where to look for jobs at startups?
The biggest thing is that you need to be a self starter. A start up needs someone they can trust to get the job done without any hand-holding. You don't need to know how to do everything, but you do need to be very willing and able to learn without the founders having to teach you everything.
I got my first job working for a start up because I had previously started my own company. It didn't work out, but I learned a lot through the experience and the company that hired me loved the fact that I had already tried. They loved that I had real experience, and that's why the chose me over the people that had actually studied for the position. Startups don't have extensive training programs. They need people that can jump in and get the job done.
My biggest recommendation for you is that you get some real experience. Build an app, learn about things like A/B testing, website optimization, etc. Markett it yourself, or at least be very involved in marketing it. There's often a disconnect between the people who build the product and the people who market the product. If you understand the marketing as well as product development, you'll do well. Who knows, you may create your own start up in the process. ;)
I agree with Jeremiah.
Couple of notes which I want to add:
1) If non technical founders are trying to hire you based on checkbox list (do you know technology A, technology B, technology C and etc) be cautions of that. It's way more important to be able to get things done (vs knowledge of some particular technology).
2) If you know how to do a little bit of everything (testing, configuration management and etc) it's a big plus , because in startup quite often there are no designated people fo this.