Should an aspiring entrepreneur mention that he wants to be an entrepreneur in an interview?

In my experience, I have started some really great conversations with potential employers by talking about a side project or entrepreneurial venture that I’ve worked on in the past…so I think if you have something you worked on in the past, it’s not totally out of line to bring it up. (That is, if it is related to experience/value you bring to that company..which most of the time it won’t be, so take care)

In terms of wanting to be an entrepreneur in the future, I don’t think that would come off the way you would hope with an employer…you might want to show that you are a self-starter and have an innovative way of thinking about things, but ultimately it is more important to show them that you are committed to working at that company. In a job interview, I think it is important to talk about how you are excited to work for THAT company, and are interested in what THEY do.

I wouldn’t take my word as gold, but I thought some insight from my experience as a recent graduate from UMass might be a little bit helpful. To that end, I would also mention that your ambition to take the risk of starting a new venture is something I think many college students feel, but keep your mind open to other opportunities. You might find that many employers share the values that you consider meaningful, and there are many opportunities to be a valued member of a company that is already achieving much of the success you hope to have yourself. This would hopefully give you the personal satisfaction of working for something you care about, as well as the added experience that you can use when you end up setting out on your own.

Leverage the fact that you are a student and still exploring your opportunities, and try to reach out to different companies that you find interesting…figure out what they need, and start making connections. You can use this research to develop the skills and make yourself the ideal candidate for a job or internship at a great company…that way you can continue to build and network while working in a related field until you are able to pursue your long term entrepreneurial goals.

If you’ve heard of the “4 hour work week”, a book by Tim Ferris, it references a somewhat new idea of the “intrepreneur”, someone who uses entreprenuerial skill from inside a large corporation. (also from “Lean Startup”, etc.) Innovation and freedom are taking over as common practice not only in start ups but in larger corporations as well. I think most of the draw of being an entrepreneur is the freedom, and it is worth considering the possibility of finding a company that satisfies your entrepreneurial spirit, while also providing experience you can use, and provides you with a steady income. This book talks a lot about methods that let you be more productive and potentially start your entrepreneurial venture while you are still a full time employee.

Anyway, best of luck, I hope this was somewhat helpful!

I think it’s a great question to ask, and hopefully you get some answers from other business owners or recruiting professionals.

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