Friday, July 11, 2014

How to join 100state in 5 easy steps

by Kelsey Gockenbach

So, you’re thinking about joining the hottest new non-profit in Madison but not sure what it entails? Maybe you’ve come to one of their many events, heard about them through a friend or stumbled upon them in the news and they’ve peaked your interest. As a freshly minted member of 100state, I feel qualified enough to lead you through the process.

Step one: decide to join!
I had known about 100state for several months and attended some events on the periphery before I decided to join. But before making the jump, I made a couple of my friends and members pitch a 100state membership to me. Using my best impression of Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street, I asked them “Why should I join? What would I get out of it?” (a.k.a. “Sell me this pen.”) There were a few reasons that made me want to be an official member.

First of all, just by joining 100state you are taking an active role in bettering our community. 100state is focused on improving life in Madison and beyond through innovation, new ideas and collaboration. By just paying your dues every month, you are supporting our community. You can consider it a donation to improving Madison.The altruist in me fell for this aspect right away, that at the end of the day, no matter how much or how little time I put in, I was still contributing.

Secondly, it is a perfect way for me to put my time to good use outside of my day job, and provides me opportunities to meet new people, get involved with cutting-edge projects and add value to my own life. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure if my skill set would be a good fit for 100state. My first impression of 100state was that it was just a co-working space for entrepreneurs of a technological inclination. I am neither an entrepreneur nor a software developer/engineer/coder. But, I learned that there are all types of members at 100state from ages 16-85, in vastly different industries. There is a large entrepreneurial contingent to 100state, but there are also full time professionals who are looking to get involved in some cool projects outside of their daily routine.

Whatever your background, there is a way for you to benefit from being a member at 100state.

Mike Fenchel blowing minds

Step two: apply!
The application is fairly straightforward. You can find it here. There are some basic information questions, multiple choice questions and two long-form questions. The two open-ended questions, “what’s your story?” and “Why do you want to join us?” give you a chance to open up about yourself, tout your accomplishments and share your goals.

The other questions ask you basic things like how you heard about 100state, what your general interests are, etc. The only part I found slightly confusing was the “power levels” section where you are asked to rank yourself from 1 to 5 (1=beginner, 5=awesome) in several categories including “community,” or “ideation”. These qualifiers were a little perplexing at first, but I ranked myself the best I could, mostly landing in between beginner and awesome except for a couple outliers (I’m looking at you, “initiative,” - never my strongest trait).

Step three: Interview!
At the end of the application you will pick the best time to set up an interview. You can either meet during the day, or for us 9-5ers there are times available until 8pm in the evening.

Mike or Andrew, the co-directors, will get back to you quickly to set up an “interview”. I use interview in quotations because it really is just a conversation and a way to get to know you instead of a formal, bring-four-copies-of-your-resume style interview. It literally says, “dress however” on the application, and they mean it. In your interview with either Andrew or Mike, you will be asked questions like “how will you contribute to the community at 100state?” and “what do you hope to get out of your membership?” I think the most important question though was “What are you passionate about?” Above all else, 100state is looking for passionate members. It doesn’t exactly matter what you are passionate about as long as you are passionate about something. (Except serial killing. If you’re passionate about serial killing please seek professional help.) This is the one common thread amongst the diverse members of 100state: passion.

Also, in my interview, Mike told me about a few projects going on at 100state that could be up my alley, and gave me a few ideas for how I could get involved, like writing for the 100state blog (wink).  

Step four: Get set up!
Soon after your interview you will be notified via email whether or not you would be a good fit for 100state. If you are approved, you will have two membership options- a standard membership, which costs $50/month, includes use of the 100state workspace, invitations to events, your picture and bio on the site and receiving snail mail at 100state. With the premium membership ($100/month) you also get the ability to reserve conference rooms, a key for 24/7 access to the space among other perks. Also, any member can request an email address. It is completely up to you which level of membership will work best for you.

After you officially sign up and submit your first month’s dues, you will receive an email with a list of tips and tricks to help you get set up at 100state. This includes joining the he 100things to do calendar, setting up your profile on and much more.

Step five: One of us! One of us!
After all the housekeeping stuff is out of the way, you will get paired with a mentor. This will be an experienced member of 100state who knows all the ins and outs and is there to help you get comfortable, make introductions with people they think you could work well with and generally be your point of contact if you have any questions. The mentor/mentee program is just starting out but I personally think it is a great idea as new members may not know exactly how to jump in to the 100state community.

Another good way to start is to pick an upcoming event and dive right in. For me it was the transportation problem solving soiree last week, which ended up being really fun. Also, there are members’-only town hall meetings every month where members meet to discuss what everyone’s working on, the state of 100state, and to meet new members.

And that’s it! Now you are a fully integrated member of this cool community of forward thinkers. At 100state you get out what you put in- you aren’t obligated to anything, and can be as involved as you like. Now get out there and do something awesome!