Getting a job is always a big deal, but getting the right job is especially important. You’ve probably heard from your parents or professors that landing a position with a large corporation will lead you down the path to professional victory. While this may hold true for some collegiettes, there’s plenty of other job options available! Here’s why working for a business that’s just starting out could be the perfect starting point for you.
1. Opportunities for experience
Does money motivate you to fill out job app after job app? If so, that’s not a bad thing. But a consistent cash flow isn’t the only thing to be gained from employment.
“Working for a startup gives a person an opportunity to see a business from the ground up,” Darlene Johnson says. Johnson, who boasts an extensive background in career counseling, is the Director of External Relations at the Hofstra University Career Center. She believes that the startup environment is a solid place for you to discover your interests because, as with most internships, a startup job will likely provide you with opportunities to test the waters in several areas of the business.
This testing should result in some pretty stellar insights. “Working at a startup is valuable because of the sheer amount you learn,” says Halana Dash, a Temple University senior with more than a year’s worth of experience in startup work. Your paycheck might help you get from apartment A to apartment B. However, it’s experience—and the education you earn along the way—that will truly take you to the next level.
2. More meaningful responsibilities
With great knowledge comes greater expectations. In other words, the experiences you rack up will qualify you to handle important matters within a startup business.
Rachael Bozsik is the CEO and Founder of The Brand Girls, a team of professionals who train collegiettes in cover letter writing, networking and other areas related to personal branding. According to Bozsik, working for a startup means “you may have to step outside of your comfort zone and take on tasks that are outside of your job description." Because the business is so small, you’ll be trusted with trying your hand at the roles and responsibilities that would normally be off-limits in a more corporate work setting.
3. Passionate people
If you’ve ever seen Shark Tank, then you’re well aware of the fact that there’s no shortage of passion in the startup community. These people eat, breathe, sleep and, in some cases, sleep in their businesses!
Franklin & Marshall College senior Juliana Knight feels as though this energy is worth experiencing firsthand. “I currently work for a startup, and I would absolutely recommend that collegiettes try it!” she says. Juliana has found that those who work in startups are “very innovative” and excited about what they’re doing. Because good vibes are contagious, she says she feels “so comfortable” when she goes to work.
Of course, the tricky thing with passion is that it can end up being a little all over the place. “I've worked for a few startups, and there were both positive and negative experiences with each,” says Tessa*, a Western University senior. One of the companies for which Tessa worked would change its mission constantly because the owners had several “abstract ideas” that weren’t being channeled into one objective. “I think it's very important to know that the startup has an obtainable goal,” she says. Therefore, the easiest way to get to a gig that’s more like Juliana’s job is to make sure the startup in which you’re interested has passion with a purpose.
4. Thrifty Thinking
To say that the average startup is strapped for cash would be a total understatement. As Halana puts it, “startups work much more leanly” than their corporate counterparts.
That’s because everything is significant in a startup setting. “Entrepreneurs are constantly praising the virtues of being ‘scrappy’ and ‘hustling,’” Halana says. Although Halana has worked and held internships in other employment environments, she thinks the conservation strategies she’s gained from her startup roles have proven to be some of her most treasured takeaways. The resources that go to waste in other companies are prized by startups. As Halana states, new businesses “definitely value everything, from office space to computer paper to the free lunch at an investor networking event.”
When you’re trained to cut costs at work, you become more in tune with the deals made available by grocery stores, online retailers and other points of purchase. This thrifty thinking will definitely come in handy as you prepare to give the real world a run for its money.
5. Jack of all trades
The various responsibilities you’ll have and the savings strategies you’ll have to practice while working for a startup are going to make you feel like you’re bouncing all over the place—and that’s okay! In fact, being on your toes comes with its own set of advantages.
“You will most likely have the ability to be a bit flexible in your role,” Bozsik says, as many startups aren’t staffed by huge departments of employees. Bozsik provides a great example of what tends to happen within a new business. “If you were hired for event planning,” she says, “you will most likely be dabbling in public relations and marketing work with a variety of team members across the company.”
At first, you’re going to feel overwhelmed by the differences between your duties. Lucky for you, though, finding your footing in every section of a startup will work in your favor. “This well-rounded experience can make a person a more marketable candidate for a future job search,” Johnson says. It’s important to have a firm handle on your personal passion, but showcasing the skills needed to thrive in other areas is how you’ll stand out in the long run.
6. Your opinions matter
Isn’t it great when people want to listen to what you have to say? According to Bozsik, the startup community is all ears.
“The [startup] team is in the stage of new growth and development,” she says. “They will be looking for feedback on how their process runs, edits they can make to their product and restyling their packaging.” Because of this, you’re more likely to have a say in what the business could do to improve than you would in a work environment that doesn’t allow as much room for (or doesn’t need as many) suggestions.
Bozsik recommends utilizing the platform that’s granted to you by a startup. Pitch the big-picture ideas and creative projects you’ve been harboring since Day One of freshman year. “In most cases,” she says, “your voice will be heard.” When it comes to startups, speaking up could spark seriously worthwhile innovations.
7. Sharing in the success
Some businesses never make it past the starting out stage of development. Because of this, it’s no surprise that startups—and the people who work for them—are often considered risky.
“Since startups are not established businesses, of course there is always a potential for the business to fail,” Johnson says. “However, this is a risk for most organizations!” Johnson makes an excellent point. Though the difficulties a business endures in its beginning months and years are valid reasons for concern, it’s important to remember that even the most successful companies go through this exact same process. They may have struggled initially, but, today, they shine.
According to Johnson, the difference between working for a startup and clocking in at a tried-and-true business is that you’ll get to shine with the startup. “The upside [to startup work] is that you have the opportunity to share in tremendous success if the business takes off,” she says. Your hands will touch so many pieces of the startup puzzle that, when positive things happen, they’re going to seem especially sweet.
Wishing you all the best in your search for the perfect job, collegiettes! Though there’s something to be learned from every place you work, we hope you find a spot that allows you to take advantage of all the awesomeness the startup community has to offer.
Do you have any startup stories you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!
*Name has been changed.