“Networking” can be especially scary when your family does not have any “professional connections” to hook you up with.
Luckily, there are resources out there (accessible to most everyone), like Twitter, with tons of valuable information and people who are more than willing to help (if you ask the right questions).
Aashay has done an awesome job building a personal brand on Twitter. More than that, he’s helped out tons of people. Lots to learn here.
Hey Aashay! Thanks for taking the time to share on Student Hustle.
Introduce yourself! Tell us about where you go to school, where you have worked, and what you are up to nowadays.
I’m Aashay Sanghvi currently going into my junior year at Harvard, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with the great teams at Breather in New York, Stem Disintermedia in LA, and Tallwave in Scottsdale, AZ. I’ve mostly focused on product during my time at these companies and have learned a lot from some great people in tech.
I’ve also spent time as a Campus Ambassador for New Enteprise Associates, which I will continue through the fall. Right now, I’m focusing on a project where I send a curated list of seed investors active investment opportunities every two weeks or so.
What are you studying in school? Have any classes or groups you are in been helpful in the real world?
It sounds silly, but I’m studying something called Social Studies at Harvard. It’s our interdisciplinary major in the social sciences. I’m focusing on the history of capitalism in America, especially during the 20th century. It’s basically a mix of economics and history. I’m also minoring in Computer Science.
In terms of classes that have actually been helpful in the real world, I would only say a handful. They tend to be CS classes.
What is the biggest surprise/misconception about life at Harvard? How do you prioritize spending your time on campus?
The biggest misconception is that everyone is a snob. It sounds super cliche, but in two short years, I’ve met many people I consider to be among my best friends. I think you need to spend quality time with quality people, and initially in college, you need to figure out who those people are for you.
I think academics are important, and I try to take classes in areas that I’m interested in, but I don’t think it’s the end all of college. I like to try things that will help differentiate myself and try to leverage my time as a student meeting people outside of campus working on interesting companies and ideas.
How have you developed your personal brand? How has writing / providing value to others played a role in the way you find ways to develop relationships?
If you do good work consistently, whether it be writing or helping out startups, people notice and pay attention
I’m always aspiring to get to a point where I can stop worrying about “building a personal brand.” I want to do good work, so it can speak for itself and others can vouch for what I do. If you do good work consistently, whether it be writing or helping out startups, people notice and pay attention.
Tell us about how you use Twitter. How has that been helpful for you?
I have firm conviction that 99% of college students underestimate Twitter’s potential to help them advance their careers. If you actively use Twitter to reach out to people you admire, jump into conversations with your point of view, and build your audience, it might be the biggest form of career arbitrage out there.
I’ve met so many amazing people through Twitter and the network is unbelievable. It takes time and requires patience, but it’s completely worth it.
First thing I did with Twitter was just to start following a bunch of people in the venture world, mostly investors. I looked at recommended people to follow after that and followed them too. I saw who was jumping in conversations and followed those people over well. Over time, you get a sense for how people think and what they are looking at in terms of deals. Don’t be afraid to jump into conversations with your opinion or shoot someone a DM if they’re open.
Whenever someone followed me back, I would always send a DM and suggest we hop on the phone for a quick 15 min. chat. Twitter builds organically, and at the pace you want it to. I choose to post articles I find interesting or ask questions I’m thinking about.
How did you get your internship at Breather? What have you been working on there?
I just finished up my internship at Breather, but it actually came about through some sponsorship work I was doing in the fall of 2015. I was working for an organization on campus called HackHarvard, which was hosting a hackathon at school. We needed startup sponsors, and I happened to reach out to the business development lead at Breather in Boston. We met and got along, but nothing really materialized for that event.
However, we stayed in touch and this past spring, he was putting together a new team at the company focused on developing technology solutions for Breather’s landlord partners. He offered me an internship, and I gladly accepted.
I worked on the documentation for the web product that we are going to offer landlords, and I also worked on developing internal tools for the real estate acquisitions team.
What has being an investment analyst taught you? What does the day to day type work look like for someone on the investing side of the startup world?
It’s really taught me there is a lot more work that investors and VCs can do on behalf of founders. Being a founder is one of the hardest career moves you can make, and most investors don’t really have an appreciation for the difficulty of the job. I think investors need to be humble, accept that the founders are generally the smartest people in the room, and hustle their asses off to do whatever they can to win the best deals and support the best founders.
The day to day is really different, but when you’re starting out, it involves a lot of outreach to founders and thinking about dynamics in different industries and how they will evolve.
If you could give one piece of advice for people looking to just now break into startups and tech, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to do the job before it comes to you! If you want a job as a VC, go out and talk to some companies you find interesting and share your results. If you want to be in product, build something! The same goes for every piece of the startup ecosystem. Don’t be afraid to dive in headfirst and be creative.
Where can people find you and what opportunities are you looking for? (Twitter, linkedin, personal site, medium, etc).
Subscribe for weekly tips and advice from our awesome community!