I wish I could say my first job was at a startup – it wasn’t, I was drawn down the corporate path as it “normal”. After graduation, I gained a ton of value out of my first job at IBM in terms of what full-time work was. In such a global organization it was cool to see how hierarchies and globally dispersed team’s work.
None of this compared to what I’d consider my first real job – promoting Appster aside I feel most of the learning I lean upon today was learned at a startup. I was trying to convince a friend to choose a startup over a corporate and thought I’d share what I said to him with you all below.
Manage Yourself & Your Career
At a corporation, there are weeks of “onboarding” meaningless training and forms galore. At a startup there’s nothing, this can be a good and bad thing. As someone who was a little used to corporate hand holding it took me a few days for it to click that I had to DIY this. It’s really likely you’ll work in a very flat team – that means you’ll be managing yourself to some extent.
You need to define your own career path as there are no organization charts to view. You need to source and attend your own training and you need to define your work schedules. Everything is uncharted territory as you’re a trailblazer in your division, people that follow benefit from your work.
Make It Or Break It Financially
The allure of the next Facebook is real and is used by most startups. They can’t offer big paychecks or fancy perks so they sell the dream. The dream was part of the allure for me and is currently being realized! Early joiners are sometimes offered stock options which upon acquisition or IPO are with serious cash. The next part involves no promotion but large career jumps. In a startup, no one gets promoted but the organization grows below you. In a single month at Appster, we had 7 people join our team across a few divisions. I started in a team of 2 and now we are 7 strong. You join to realize the projected future value of a company.
Make An Actual Impact
I feel this is the best part of joining a startup. Unlike having your work rolled up and absorbed into a corporate machine your work has an impact. At a startup, any individuals work could be make or break. A singular developer introduced a bug that breaks the code and you lose tons of cash. A singular marketers idea can lead to thousands of business leads. This challenge keeps it interesting and life on the edge at a startup is enthralling.