My two cents:
1. Don't go to grad school for a reason other than really wanting to go to grad school. It's just that pretty much every other reason has a totally random probability of manifesting. Which is what you can get without grad school, so why pay extra?
2. Get better at networking online. This is the obvious corollary of the shift to working out of the office - physical co-location is no longer the one and only way to build professional relationships.
I've written about it (including some useful advice) in the following links. I chose to focus on LinkedIn, but most of the principles will be the same for any digital social setting.
Re going back to school - def a good way to make friends and build long-term relationships. But I have also seen a lot od co-founders that used to work together. I guess it is all harder in a remote setting, maybe that is the main factor.
Every time I read one of these abstracted Ask HN's I always think to myself "If that's your objective, then state and restate it in whatever contexts you can for discovery." Which is to say that there may well be many people reading about this cofounder discovery problem, but if what you really want is to find a cofounder rather than solve the general problem of finding cofounders perhaps including what you're founding and what aspects you want to find in a cofounder could make some connections.
my (probably less than) two cents:
99.999% of times one of the co-founders will "look sideways" now and then, signaling they're not all-in. different offers or different desires or even just stopping to believe in the product. could be your cofounder, could be you. whatever the reason, look for the team that has their eyes set straight ahead on goal.
So I’m the co-founder of Chirr App, a tool that helps people compose and schedule Twitter threads.
Previously, I worked as a consultant. My focus was on helping SaaS companies improve their user retention metrics.
At some point, I began using Chirr App to write Twitter threads. I don’t remember how I found it but I loved it. I reached out to the founder, Sasha, and shared my appreciation.
We stayed in touch.
I had thoughts and feedback on the product. He was receptive to my suggestions. Together we ended up setting up a pipeline for doing customer interviews, something he wasn't too comfortable with. We also got some AB testing infrastructure set up so that we could run basic server side experiments, which was all new to the project. I wasn't throwing out quick tips or anything, we got into it.
I treated this work as a side project/case study. I had a full time job so I wasn't pouring loads of time into it or anything. This was all stuff I knew how to do anyway, so I was just sharing how to do it and helping get it set up.
I think it helps that I genuinely enjoy this kind of work. I wasn't expecting anything out of the interaction, nor was I looking for a co-founder or project. All I asked for is that he recommend me if other startups or founders wanted help with this stuff. Other than that, I was a paid user and it was a genuinely enjoyable relationship.
About a year later he asked if I’d like to join the project as a co-founder.
I enjoy consulting, it pays well, but I was beginning to want a project of my own to sink my teeth into. Working on other people products for months, pouring yourself into the work, helping them grow, and then suddenly leaving started to become emotionally traumatic in some small way.
Sasha is an open-source developer for whom I have the utmost respect. We’d casually worked together for a year, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. Joining Chirr App was a no-brainer.
We now work on Chirr App full-time. We’re a tiny bootstrapped team of 3 and we’re working hard to build a tool that helps people get the most out of Twitter.
I don't have a recipe for you or anything. It wasn't something either of us planned. Having casually worked together for a year was a huge factor in my decision. I've been in several partnerships before, some of them ended well, others were a shit show.
Both of us genuinely wanted to work on the project, which was cool. If you want to try and reverse engineer this, make sure you find a product you love. I also think that having skills that are useful to the project/partnership and then being able to actually demonstrate them were both key factors that de-risked the decision for both us.
The question cannot be answered unless you try and _objectively_ define the bare minimum characteristics that you look for, in a co-founder. So what are you looking for?
In some cases ( depending on the intellectual spectrum that you fall into) it will be near impossible to find a reasonable co-founder, in other cases virtually every fifth person out there could be a potential co-founder.