Startups For Students Guide

by Tamanna Khemani, Kat Mañalac1/18/2022

In the past two years, we’ve met over 6,000 students during our virtual outreach tours. We compiled a list of the questions they most frequently asked about startups, and created this Startups for Students Guide.

The guide is informed by hundreds of hours of talks, blog posts, and essays we’ve written for students who are interested in starting or working at startups – many of which can be found in the YC Library).

Below is the introduction, and you can read the full Startups for Students Guide here.


In his 2007 essay “Why to Not Not Start a Startup,” YC co-founder Paul Graham wrote about how common uncertainty was among people considering starting a company. “There's nothing wrong with being unsure,” he noted. “You’re part of a grand tradition.” When Y Combinator launched in 2005, starting a startup was an unusual career path for recent graduates. It was hard to be taken seriously by investors if you didn’t have an MBA or years of experience in business or tech. To get a sense of how many startups were in the world, look at TechCrunch in 2005. It published about 40 company launches per month, and YC itself only got a couple hundred applications for its first batches.

The world has changed since then. Today we get tens of thousands of applications per year. On any given day you can look on Product Hunt and see dozens of new companies launch. Taking a chance and starting a startup is not the foreign concept it once was. While it has become more common for people around the world to start startups, there are many more who could consider startups as an option. For example, lots of folks choose a career in finance or as an engineer at a big company without considering other options. Whether you know you want to become a founder or are more interested in finding a job at a startup, we want to equip you with the best resources for getting started.

In this guide, we’ll discuss why you should think about starting a startup and why you should consider not starting a startup. We’ll also talk about what you should do in college and walk-through some tips for applying to Y Combinator. And if it turns out being a founder isn’t for you, we’ll talk about how to choose the right company and the benefits of working at a startup.

Read the Startups for Students Guide here.


  • Tamanna Khemani

    Tamanna is YC's Outreach Manager. Previously, she worked on business operations at All Raise.

  • Kat Mañalac

    Kat is the Managing Outreach Officer at YC. She was Chief of Staff to Alexis Ohanian, cofounder of reddit, before joining YC as its Director of Outreach. Prior to that, Kat was at WIRED Magazine.