We are both proud and excited to have so many emerging startups and small businesses working with us over at InternAvenue.com. However startups are more often than not overshadowed by their more established counterparts. Big companies that have been around for years most definitely have a wealth of benefits for young graduates or those wanting to gain so experience in the industry. A grad job with McDonald’s gets you life insurance and a company car or a job with Unum could see you get private dental cover.
But let’s not overlook the little guy, because they can often provide a very unique, very valuable experience for those who are willing to learn, and wanting to roll up their sleeves and get started from day one.
To give you an insight into why startups could just be the best career decision you’ve ever made, we asked one of the interns on InternAvenue.com about their experiences. Here’s their no-frills list of the very real benefits that make certain saying yes to working for a small business is essential to the rest of your career.
You grow in ways you didn’t think were possible. I’ll elaborate more on this in the following points, but this to me is one of the key reasons to choose a grad position or gain some work experience in a small, new business. Because things are new, the company’s structure is often malleable and continually open to scrutiny and change.
You are highly valued, and were hired for a reason. There is a certain level of appreciation you will feel from day one when your boss turns to you and asks “What do you think?” Me? Think?! Yes!! Of course you think. That’s what you spent years of your degree doing and it’s not going to stop now. You’re of value, your opinions matter. The way you learn in this kind of environment is on the go. And though at the start it may take you a little while to recognise, you are there to make a contribution to the actual company, and people are going to treat you that way.
You are responsible. It’s scary, but it means your successes are your own. As are your failures. And it’s hard to overstate just how much this will contribute to your growth not only as a worker, but as an employee. Sure you can find yourself backpacking in Peru, but working at a startup will really show you what kind of person you are. You’ll have to segment out your time, monitor yourself, reflect on your own work, figure out what you can do better – the whole shebang. Which leads me to my next point…
You will become an invaluable independent worker. You will often be handed something, and be asked to take charge of it and transform it into something amazing. This means you get a chance to put theory to practice and actually DO something. Yeah, of course, you’ll stumble and reach a few dead ends along the way. However, the thing about a startup environment is utilising the trial and error process – learning to turn failure into a lesson for success. Wherever you go after this, your coworkers and management will immensely appreciate that you came from a startup – you’ll be advanced well beyond your years in your capacity to get stuff done without being micro-managed.
You’ll work harder. Taking the above into account, your days in the office will often have your head down and your mind ticking. It’s challenging work. But I promise you – from experience – your week flies by much faster than if your doing something easy and unstimulating.
You’ll learn more than you ever did. And often not just about your part of the business. The small nature of startup offices means that work tends to flow collaboratively between people. The guy in marketing isn’t two floors down, he’s next to you. Tech isn’t outsourced, they’re on the other side of the desk in the middle of your open plan office. As much as software like slack have changed the way we communicate, there is nothing faster and more engaging than turning your head and having the person you need to talk to a mere few metres away from you. My time in a start-up meant I learnt almost as much about technology and client bases and accounts as I did about my field of expertise.
Culture. This is the one EVERYONE harps on about and that’s because it’s true. Company culture in most startups is friendly, lively, human and positive. Because you all work quite hard, most companies will offset that with other perks. One of the first things my CEO said to me was “we take our snacking very seriously.” They do, in a big way. They also value beers after work, having dinners together, office banter that’s as quick as lightning. Big companies are now trying to commodify this, to mimic this, and to get people in house to apply it to their existing structures. Yahoo even tried banning offsite telecommunication to get people back in the office. But to be quite frank, culture has to come from your people. It can’t just be packaged around your existing company. What’s more, culture makes it far easier to manage the more unpredictable aspects of startup life. When the atmosphere is open and positive, it’s much easier to work and handle a problem. You basically spend the vast majority of your week in the office, so why would you not want it to be a great environment?
The bottom line is, though the experience is less predictable, and you are required to work in ways you sometimes didn’t expect, the startup life is going to change you for the better. It will throw you in the deep end and teach you how to swim rather than forcing you to hang out in the kiddies pool for the next 10 years of your career life.