Should You Work at a Startup?

Should you work at a startup?Working at a startup can be an exciting adventure for a recent graduate or someone who is picking a new career. A startup can offer a unique company culture, a chance to collaborate on exciting projects, and the opportunity to invent new products that other jobs may not allow you to do. But it’s not the same as working in corporate America.

Before you dive right in and commit to a job at a startup, consider the following factors:

Adapting to Change

The best startups have a lot of really good ideas and brilliant minds to develop them. Often times, these ideas will be constantly evolving and the work processes will evolve with them.

If you want to work at a young company, you must be able to adapt to change, at times on a daily basis. This change can mean having to move to different offices (sometimes that “office” will be a founder’s kitchen) and it can mean completely changing your job responsibilities.

Because the company is constantly evolving, you may be asked to do things that you normally wouldn’t do. One day you might be coding at your desk and the next day you could be answering customer support calls and going to sales meetings. This type of change is all part of the process and you must be willing and able to adapt to it.

The Culture Isn’t Always as Glamorous as It Seems

Startups are often associated with unique and exciting company cultures. From free child care to happy hours and from casual dress to unlimited paid time off, the perks startups re known for can indeed be quite excellent. But there are some things you need to consider.

First, the majority of startups are unable to offer such perks when they’re first getting started (particularly if they’re bootstrapping), so don’t expect a Google-esque company culture just because you’re applying to startups. Next, even if the perks are available now, they might not be in the future. As the company grows and evolves the perks and freebies might change or disappear. This is increasingly likely if venture capital comes into the picture. Finally, know that these perks often come in exchange for other things. You might have free child care and catered dinners, but you also might be working 60 to 80 hours per week with no overtime.

Overnight Success or Crash and Burn

Working for a startup company means an opportunity to reap plenty of rewards if the company is successful. If the company goes bust, however, you need to be prepared for it.

You must assess the risk of picking a career at a startup company. While the financial rewards can be great if the company succeeds, you must be prepared to find yourself back in the job hunt if the company fails to take off. For some, this is a non-issue; for others, the uncertainty is too much to handle.

Did you know that we’re a startup? Check out this blog post to find out what it’s like to work at ZipRecruiter.

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Photo Credit: “Question Mark Cloud”, (c) 2003 by Micky Aldridge

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