How Tristan Walker got a job at foursquare and what you can learn from his story

by Rich DeMatteo on July 20, 2011 · 15 comments

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I read a blog post from Tristan Walker this morning about how he got a job at foursquare.  It’s the kind of story that makes a 28 year old man fist pump high in the air.  It’s the kind of story I wish more people read, and more people told.  It’s the kind of story that I’m going to share.

I’ll be using direct quotes from his blog post, but you can read about his incredible story here on his blog.

Tristan had been using foursquare for about 2 months when he sent an email to co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai.  His passion for the service foursquare provides, coupled with his intense interest in learning from both co-founders was the driving force behind pulling the trigger.   Here is the email Tristan sent:

Hey Dennis and Naveen

How’s it going? Hope all is well!

My name is Tristan Walker and Im a first year student (going into my
second year) at Stanford Business School (originally from New York).
Im a huge fan of what you both have built and excited about what you
guys have planned for FourSquare. It is an awesome , awesome service.

I would love to chat with you guys at some point, if you’re available,
about FourSquare. This year, I’m looking to help out and work
extremely hard for a startup with guys I can learn a ton from. Dennis,
with your experience at Google and the Dodgeball product, and Naveen,
with your experience at Sun and engineering in general, I know I could
learn a great deal from you both!

Before business school, I was an oil trader on Wall Street for about
two years and hated it! Moved out to the Bay/Stanford to pursue my
passion for entrepreneurship and the startup world. This past spring I
had the opportunity to work for Twitter as an intern and learned a
ton. Solidified my commitment to working at a startup that I’m
passionate about, and FourSquare is one of those startups that I
believe in.

I know you guys are probably getting inundated with internship-type
requests, but thought it’d be worth a shot! I can assure you Im humble
and Im hungry! Let me know if you’d be interested in chatting further.
I definitely look forward to hearing from you.

Stay awesome!
Tristan
@tristanwalker

Tristan didn’t hear back right away.  In fact, he sent 8 emails to Dennis and Naveen before receiving one from them.  The key lesson here is that persistence always pays off.  When you do hear back from your target, it might not always be what you want to hear, but it is certainly better than nothing.  In Tristan’s case, he heard exactly what he wanted.

The email Tristan received was from Dennis, who wanted to know if Tristan was ever in NYC.  Here is Tristan’s response:

hey dennis, yeh I was planning on being in ny tomorrow [i was in LA at the time!…and no, i definitely had zero plans to be in NYC] how about we meet up live at your offices?

-tristan

This is the most fantastic piece to the story.  Tristan had no plans of being in NYC, but he purchased his flight ticket, hopped on a plane, and was in NYC the NEXT DAY to meet with one of the founders of foursquare.  When your opportunity calls, you need to do whatever you can to answer the bell.  If you don’t, regret will live in you forever.

Tristan ended up working at foursquare, unpaid for over 30 days.  He gained the co-founders trust and further increased his passion in the service they provide.  Two years after sending his first email, he’s currently the Director of Business Development at foursquare.  Not too shabby.

What are you taking away from Tristan’s story?

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13 comments
Daniel
Daniel

Read some other powerful follow up tactics and how to stick out from the masses. here

Juil
Juil

I wish I had half the passion Tristan does. I need to start getting things DONE!

Corey Witt
Corey Witt

Hi Rich, This isn't a big question we get from our job seekers on Urban Interns, but what level of persistence is acceptable when trying to get in contact with an employer is one we have heard. Tristan's story is refreshing to read because so often emails like his are ignored. But Tristan did prove if you want something bad enough, you have to try hard to get noticed and then be prepared to make sacrifices if an opportunity arises. I'll bookmark this blog post for our job seekers because Tristan's lesson is one to take note of. Great post. - Corey Witt Blogger at http://www.urbaninterns.com

Sam Diener
Sam Diener

Rich, Figured I would check in on you ;). Great piece as always. I am glad to see the quality has kept up! My own anecdote: Over the past year and a half, I have been in business development for a small company. I had a prospect who was essentially the CEO of North American Operations for an advertising agency of over 1,000 employees. It took 3 phone calls and 5 emails before I received a response: to contact a certain person within the agency. The result was eventually positive and yielded a fantastic client relationship. Often, as Nancy said, persistence pays off. It's not your job to assume that the person you are trying to reach doesn't want to talk to you. They simply don't know they need to yet. You have to let them know they should. -S

Nancy
Nancy

Evidently his persistence worked without the benefit of a thesaurus. He had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Congratulations Tristan.

Joanna
Joanna

Job seekers take the same approach that Tristan did by sending the company they want to work for a one-page job proposal. The online tool makes it easy for a job seeker to write a winning proposal, and land a job. You can see examples here: http://www.1-page.com/pages/how-it-works

chris
chris

Sallow my pride (don't be concern with "bothering" someone) be persistent.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey there, maybe you do have the passion, Juil. Just go and get it done!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Sam - great to hear from you! Excellent story and congratulations! Sounds like all is well on your end.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Nancy, thanks for the comment. Persistence almost always pays off!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Rather spammy comment, Joanna. I guess I'll allow it.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Chris - thanks for the comment. Try not to think that you're bothering someone, especially if it's a job you REALLY want, and know you can do.

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  1. [...] How one gutsy business student got a job at Foursquare [...]

  2. [...] to hustle ever before.  For these guys, a little real life test will do just fine.  Check out howTristan Walker got his job at Foursquare.  That’s [...]