Liz Wessel says she has always been the type of person who has no shame in reaching out to someone, whether or not she knows the person. Wessel is the CEO and cofounder of WayUp, a site used by hundreds of thousands of college students to find jobs at places like Microsoft, Uber, The New York Times, Disney, and Google — where Wessel previously worked. Part of the reason she started WayUp with cofounder JJ Fliegelman was to combat nepotism, she says, “so it should make sense that I don’t really care about whether I have connections to a person.” “In college, my best cold email was to Roelof Botha, one of the top venture capitalists in the world,” she recalls. “He was a role model of mine, and I emailed him asking what he thought that I should do after I graduate in order to best position myself to one day start my own company: take a job offer at Google, or take a job offer at a venture-capital fund.” “He told me the former, and the rest was history,” she says. “It’s because of that first cold email that I have since always encouraged friends and colleagues to cold email people.” Wessel says she and Fliegelman started their company when they were just 24 and 25 years old. “We had a combined four years of full-time work experience, so there were often times that employees would ask us questions that we couldn’t answer or would ask us for advice that we didn’t want to get wrong,” she says.
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