Ajay Palekar: changing the future of work

5 Minute Read

Ajay tells us about his experience on the Jumpstart Switchers cohort, searching for his next startup venture.

In spring 2022, I was offered a place on Jumpstart’s second ever Switchers programme. The 5-week programme started in June, introducing me to opportunities at 20 leading startups and helping me find my latest role as Business Analytics Manager at Hofy

What is Jumpstart Switchers?

Finding a job isn’t that difficult. But when it comes to startups, getting the right job can be very hard. 

The problem is that there are particularly high stakes when joining an early stage venture – this decision will play an outsized role in your career and life. Perhaps you’ve picked a rocketship that will massively accelerate your career … perhaps not. You normally don’t have nearly enough information to make an informed decision. 

You’re trying to find a company that you’re confident in, that has ambition and a mission that you care about, and a culture that fits you. How are you supposed to figure out your true interests, assess opportunities, and navigate both interviews and negotiations? 

For me the answer to finding my next career-defining opportunity was Jumpstart Switchers – a programme designed to help you find your next role at a world-changing company. The programme selects people with 3 – 6 years of work experience; you can be a startup operator (like myself) searching for a new venture or be looking to switch into startups from consulting, banking, or other high-performing careers. 

How does it work?

The application was quick and easy – took me less than a minute. Your profile is judged primarily on proactivity and potential. I was interviewed by the co-founder of Jumpstart, Matthew, where we had a great conversation about my interests, future ambitions, and journey to working with startups.

If successful, you’ll be welcomed into a vetted cohort of exceptional talent who are also interested in working at early-stage ventures. My cohort was about 30 people, all super-driven, bright, and enthusiastic. 

We were introduced to 20 startups (mostly Seed and Series A stage) pitching roles like “Chief of Staff”, “Strategy Lead”, “Strategic Partnerships Lead”, and “Head of Operations”. In most cases, these were opportunities to take on high-impact projects, wear many different hats, and work directly with the founder(s) and/or senior leadership. Uniquely, many of the startups were willing to shape the role around the candidate – looking more for the right person than for a specific set of experiences and skills. 

The most outstanding part of the process was the ‘Startup Spotlights’ – I loved hearing directly from the founder or senior leader of a top startup about their company and why I should join them. I felt like I could get a feel for their culture, insight into their strategy and vision, and over the course of the process discovered more about what excites me. 

“There is incredible value in getting a sneak peek at things often left off-the-page – the charisma and energy of the founder, why are they really making this hire, and what’s worked and what hasn’t in their sales strategy. 

– Ajay (Business Analytics Manager, Hofy), on the Startup Spotlights

In June, to kick-off the programme was a fast-paced week where I heard Spotlights from 4 different startups each day. It became really clear that the impressions I formed of the opportunities pre-Spotlights when I was reviewing the job description or website were often completely changed after the Spotlights. There is incredible value in getting a sneak peek at things often left off-the-page – the charisma and energy of the founder, why are they really making this hire, and what’s worked and what hasn’t in their sales strategy. 

Tip: Each Spotlight left time for Q&A, so it pays off to prepare interesting questions to ask. It’s an opportunity to impress and get unique insight which will help you prepare for the interviews. 

After the spotlights, I selected my preferences and the Jumpstart team pitched my profile to my top choices to set-up interviews. 

Most companies structured the process in 3 rounds and I was able to get to an offer decision within 3 – 4 weeks. The whole process was fairly quick and straightforward. 

The interview-styles varied quite a bit between companies, but the three most common interview rounds: 

  1. The “get to know you” chat: What your story and why have you applied?
  2. The case study or take-home task: Are your skills aligned?
  3. And the “meet the team” conversation: Do you fit with the team, culture, and mission?

In the end, I received multiple offers through Jumpstart and chose to join Hofy on their mission to create a world where there are no geographical boundaries to brilliant work. Hofy turns the hours that companies spend delivering and managing equipment to remote workers across the globe, into just a few clicks via a simple SaaS platform. 

Hofy combines all the tools you need, from asset tracking to mobile device management, to equip new hires and remote teams around the world

Jumpstart Switchers doesn’t end with finding the job. I’m now part of a community with networking, mentorship, and socials – including a summer boat party! ⛴

If you’re thinking of applying, I would highly recommend it. And if you would like to know more about Jumpstart Switchers or Hofy – feel free to connect with me over LinkedIn.

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