You’re entering into your final semester of college, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to start applying to your first full-time job. You could take your hand at applying for a position at several large corporate companies and if you’re lucky, could land a job that you enjoy and also potentially compensate you well. On the other hand, you look into local startups that are hiring and consider joining a startup company instead.
Since the “.com” boom, startups have become a more popular and accepted place of employment. For those familiar with HBO’s Silicon Valley, if watching Richard Hendriks’ success (and hiccups) with Pied Piper isn’t enough to get you motivated, I’m going to explain why a startup may be the better choice for someone fresh out of college.
1. Transition From School
Getting your first full-time job after college can be daunting. On top of finding a job so you can start paying back your student loans, you have to break away from the life and environment you’ve settled into the past several years. Say goodbye to the textbooks and classrooms and hello to cubicles and the 40-hour work week.
It’s no easy transition. And if you land a job at a corporate company, you’re looking at learning their culture, learning how they learn and work, and maybe get thrown in mid-project.
On the other hand, as a company, a startup is still growing and still developing its own culture. Chances are you’ll be working on a small team of people who share the same ambition and similar goals. Rather than becoming another number in the bullpen, when joining a small team, your work and ideas matter so much more. Your fresh education will be of more value in a small startup team compared to yet another corporate employee.
2. Working Atmosphere
In my previous installment, “My Life as a Remote Intern,” I touched on the perks of working remote. In a startup, suit and tie standards are whisked away. Goodbye “casual Friday,” hello “casual every day of the week”.
On a slightly more serious note, besides getting to work in my pajamas and brewing the non-generic, expensive coffee of my choice, working in a startup means working in a tight-knit group, actively collaborating on the most innovative solutions for your projects. For the most part, you get to work on the projects of your choosing.
Depending on the status and culture of your startup, you may get to choose your physical work environment as well. If you can work remotely, you can choose to be inspired by the atmosphere of a local coffee shop or elect to never leave the comfort of your home ever again.
There is much more freedom in your work environment in a startup company compared to a corporate company. You play by your own rules here.
3. Better Learning Environment
Startup companies often get associated with wearing many hats. Since there are so few people working, the company’s responsibilities get divvied up between the team members. This may seem daunting at first, being responsible for multiple operations of the company, like being a front-end developer and your own PM. However, once you get a routine down, it’s not difficult to maintain.
Being responsible for multiple functions can be thrilling. You’re not stuck doing the same mundane tasks day in and day out as if you were in a corporate position.
You learn so much so quickly with this setup. As the company grows, you, too, as a team member, are growing, becoming more versatile, and are learning your skills and your roll in the company along the way. As the company grows, it may push you to learn new skills in order to succeed.
4. It’s Rewarding
Some may not like the responsibility that comes with a startup. But the perks that come from your successes are so much more rewarding. When you successfully complete a project or reach a certain checkpoint in the company, the results are that much more rewarding because you had your hand in it every step of the way. Like raising a child, seeing your own project reach completion is a very unique reward in itself.
Working in such a small team, your efforts and actions have such a larger impact than if you were in a corporate company. It’s rewarding receiving direct praise from a team member you know values your hard work and input in the company.
Everyone on your team is working with the mindset that you might succeed and make it big one day. With that mindset, it’s thrilling to come into work each day wondering what we can accomplish next that will help push the company further towards success.
5. You Gain Personal Skills and Values
Working in a startup, you get to carve your own path; you’re not bound by the restrictions of corporate processes and goals. You’re your own boss and you’re responsible for your own success. You get to work on the projects you want to, which lets you tap into your creative side. Knowing your input into projects is valued is very empowering, especially when you’re fresh out of school; it can give you a sense of purpose and self-sustainability.
Because of this, you learn the values of hard work and responsibility. In a corporate company you could maybe slack off a little bit, spend more time making friends with your coworkers rather than making projects and hope someone else will make up for your slack. But in a startup, progress can only happen when you put in the time and effort yourself.
So for all you soon-to-be college grads out there, if you have yet to commit to a company upon crossing that stage and receiving your hard-earned degree, be sure to look into local startup communities in your area for opportunities on something outside of the cubicle.