At Monday night’s ridiculously useful ExitEvent Startup Social, someone I know who has been a part of the startup community in a support capacity for quite some time was, well, way more dressed down than usual.

Turns out he had made the ultimate jump, ditching his job at an organization that supports the startup community to go to work for a startup.

Hearing that made me very happy.

In my mind, there’s no greater way to support the startup community than building a successful startup (an echo of my friend James Avery in this piece on Adzerk’s deal with Reddit). I consider the time I spend building ExitEvent (the network, the content, and the Social) and the various startup-focused columns I write all a part of my effort to support the community (as well as a keg of fun), but it’s what I do each day at Automated Insights that will ultimately make a difference.

Make Automated Insights successful, and that makes the startup community more successful. So that’s mission number one, or, as I like to put it: Family then Automated Insights then Automated Insights then ExitEvent.

The Jobs Are Out There

The good news is that it’s never been easier to work at a startup. First of all, for better or for worse, the risk/reward ratio has swung quite broadly over the last few years, especially as these new economic crises keep cropping up.

Yeah, working at a startup means risk but, especially right now, working anywhere else means risk too. And as the economy gets dicier and large companies keep hoarding cash (and, might I add, buying startups), the more your effort and output impacts the bottom line, the more likely you are to keep your job.

You can’t push paper at a startup, or “manage.” Those aren’t jobs here.

There are jobs at startups in nearly every other category. Marketing is now a viable (and in a lot of cases, much needed) function. Sales is, and let me pause for effect, FREAKING HUGE. If you can sell, startups will bend over backwards to help you sell.

But the most pressing need, let’s face it, is talented techies. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. In fact, if you’re excellent with Ruby or databases, I can probably get you an interview immediately. I’m totally serious, so much so that I’m not above casting a wide net in an article like this. Hit up at news[at] I’ll make sure only I see it.

Tech Jobs Under the Big Top V

Coming up on Thursday is one of my favorite startup-related events in the Triangle, and I’ve attended and written about each of the four iterations preceding this one.

Tech Jobs Under the Big Top turns the job search process on its head in a very startup kind of way. In Bay 7 in Durham, 11 startups will pitch to a crowd of job seekers, selling them on all the reasons why they should want to come work for some of the sharpest, coolest, and most well-built companies in the Triangle.

There is beer, there are snacks, there are acrobats and jugglers — it’s all designed to take the stigma out of searching for a job. This isn’t some awful, soul-tearing interview in a Starbucks. This is class.

In Silicon Valley, they throw the kitchen sink at talented people to get them to come work for them. Tech Jobs Under the Big Top rips a page out of that book.

Why You Shouldn’t Attend

This strategy worked really well for the last ExitEvent Startup Social, so let me try it here.

Don’t go if you’re not serious.

And by “not serious,” I mean at a startup you’re going to get your hands dirty, there’s going to be, in most cases, a pay cut, you’re not going to work from 9:00 to 5:00 and, while perks are growing at startups, it’s not a free ride in any sense.

It’s hard work.

In fact, this is one of the main reasons talented people, especially experienced talented people, give me for not making the jump to a startup. The pay is too low, the work is too hard, there’s little direction and every day you have to relearn how to do your job.

I say this because despite the clowns and the jugglers at Tech Jobs Under the Big Top, this is a serious affair. The 11 companies who will be pitching are looking to come away with leads on anywhere from one to 20+ new hires, and the candidates who will be milling about and talking one-on-one with reps from the companies, they’re serious as well.

And that’s the reason this is one of my favorite startup events, because it produces the greatest amount of value — a whole lot of talented people, working at creating successful startups.