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Here's what AI startup founders say recent grads should know to land a job in the field

Lakshmi Varanasi   

Here's what AI startup founders say recent grads should know to land a job in the field
  • Over the past several months, AI has transformed the corporate world.
  • The speed of new developments may be daunting for anyone hoping to break into the field.

Generative AI is moving fast.

It seems like every few months there's another buzzy chatbot on the horizon, a major company announcing a pivot to AI, and a new crop of startups cashing in on the hype.

The speed at which the industry moves can be daunting for anyone trying to land a job in AI. And new graduates — or those who don't have much work experience to lean on — might need a bit more guidance on how to present themselves as competitive candidates in a constantly evolving field.

Here are the top tips that founders and CEOs of fast-growing AI startups have for recent grads who want to jump into the field.

Show your skills with open-source

"Get your hands dirty and build things to learn," Ian Cairns, the CEO and cofounder of, a startup that helps people build and test tools with large language models, told Business Insider by email.

Cairns said that those looking for roles as developers should build an open-source project that is free for anyone to use, modify, and share with the public, like LlamaIndex, to set up a quick project.

Meta's mostly open-source Llama 2 is also pretty popular with developers. Working on these projects can help those trying to break into the field get a "feel for how all the pieces come together when you want to create new products or solutions with generative AI," Cairns said.

Others say it can also help you get noticed by hiring companies.

"Some of the most exciting projects in AI and Robotics are being built in public, open-source packages on GitHub and discussions on Discord," Benji Barash, the CEO and cofounder of Roboto, an AI-powered data engine for the robotics field, told Business Insider. "You'll stand out from the pack if you've made contributions to these projects, and it's a great way to meet people at top companies who are hiring."

Understand real business problems

"Recent college grads applying for roles in AI should build product skills and focus on projects that deliver real value to end users — and are not just technology for its own sake," said Henry Scott-Green, the CEO and founder of, an analytics platform for businesses building large language model applications.

The emphasis on real-world value comes as AI has lowered the barrier to writing code, so candidates stand to benefit from highlighting their understanding of practical business problems alongside their coding skills.

David Hsu, the founder and CEO of Retool, a platform for building business apps, told Business Insider by email that AI has helped eliminate the need for the "tedious boilerplate code," which are sections of code repeated throughout a program or software that can slow down software development.

"It's a good reminder that at the heart of writing great applications is deeply understanding the business problem you're solving and then iterating rapidly across a team of developers and business stakeholders to get to 'great' in the fastest amount of time," he wrote.

Know the broader ethics of AI

"To thrive in the AI industry, new graduates should embrace a multidisciplinary approach, combining technical skills with a strong understanding of ethics and societal impacts," Navrina Singh, the founder and CEO of Credo, told Business Insider. Credo is a platform that helps companies stay in compliance with the growing body of regulations around AI usage.

For anyone who missed the news last month that rocked the tech world, one of the critical reasons Sam Altman was ousted, however briefly, from OpenAI was fears that AI was developing too fast and could pose a threat to society.

So, Singh said, it's crucial to have a keen awareness of the ethics of AI when assessing and implementing AI solutions to ensure they're responsibly benefiting humanity. "These combined skills will not only make you more marketable but also equip you to make meaningful contributions in the ever-changing landscape of AI," she wrote.

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