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Inside NYC's tech boom

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Just call us Silicon Valley East. Thanks to a vibrant startup community, NYC has become the hub of such prominent enterprises as bit.ly, buzzd, Foursquare and Foodspotting — to name a few.

We checked in with New Yorkers working in tech to find out what it takes to make it in the industry.

Head of Social Media

Amy Cao, 26, works at Foodspotting.com, a Web site that lets users take and share photos of specific foods at various restaurants.

What does a head of social media do? Ultimately, it’s your job to be the front man of your company, and to provide great customer service using social media tools.

What skills do you need? Good listening skills are key, but being able to engage with different personalities is important too. You should be able to write well.

How would you advise someone to get into it? You better be active on Twitter and Facebook. Tumblr, too. ... There will be a new social media platform to learn in another three months, so be ready.

Is the pay competitive? Some companies still delegate social media responsibilities to unpaid interns, but thankfully more companies are .... dedicating more of their marketing budget to that end.

Developer

Kelly Ford, 43, VP of marketing, and Ben Gleitzman, 24, developer, work at Hunch.com, a Web site that offers users customized recommendations in different areas based on a “taste profile” of expressed interests.

What do developers at Hunch do? KF: Developers (computer programmers) at Hunch work on a combination of “front-end” issues, such as how the site looks, flows and is put together, and “back-end” issues, such as Hunch’s core recommendation algorithm and data organization.

Why do you love your job? BG: To learn to program is to learn a new way of thinking. The troubleshooting, teamwork and basic reasoning skills I’ve acquired ... are applicable in many aspects of my life. Programming is the closest thing I’ve found to magic; what you can create is limited only by your imagination.

What skills and experience are required? KF: A B.S. or M.S. degree in computer science, preferably from a top school; a passion for writing Python web applications and an interest in developing clever solutions to challenging computer problems.

Tech Entrepreneur

Adam Devine, 35, is developing a still-secretive platform to help people maximize their network of contacts.

What exactly is a tech entrepreneur? There are, in my opinion, three types of tech entrepreneurs: people who have ideas, people who can turn ideas into code (“code” = programming) and people who both have ideas and can turn their ideas into code. I think it’s easiest to be the third type of tech entrepreneur, but I’m the first kind. 

How do you become one? You hatch an idea, hire yourself to execute it and reacquire a taste for Ramen noodles. It’s helpful to have deep experience in the field you wish to disrupt or innovate, and it’s essential to have a high tolerance for risk, a serious amount of initiative and true passion for what you’re doing. 

How much can you make? Entry-level in the startup world means you’ve just finished your PowerPoint presentation and maybe you’ve built what’s called a proof of concept (a demo of your technology). The pay for this level is about $0/year.

Mid-level in the startup world means you have successfully raised angel or venture funding and you are launching your business. ... Mid-level pay is anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000. ...

Every startup entrepreneur dreams of the possibility of the “exit,” which is when your business is either privately acquired (e.g. Google and Facebook) or publicly offered, also known as an IPO.

Quality Assurance Engineer and Developer

Olu Owoseni, 22, works at buzzd, a mobile city guide and social network.

What does a quality assurance engineer do? They are the person responsible for the “quality” of a product. In software, this means testing the product to see if there are bugs or any other issues with the product that would bring its quality down. You need to be proficient in several programming languages and technologies like PHP, Java, C, C++, Javascript and more.

How’d you get started? I started out as an intern for two months, and then [buzzd] hired [me] full time. I would advise people interested in this type of position to scour job listing sites and also to network with friends and family.

How’s the salary? As a developer, one can expect a salary higher than $50,000, depending on experience.

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