When you think about startups, what comes to your mind?
Some might have the thought of working long hours and doing ‘all-nighters’ one after another while others crave for the glamorous parties and playtimes with the newest technology tools. A position at a startup certainly includes both and engages you emotionally more than a regular job at a traditional company.
Overall, startups hire people to help them to make life better with new ideas rather than fill up a particular position that has the tasks clearly listed already in the job description. In the long run, what counts more than your previous working experience is how you fit into the working community. The essential qualifications to have are overall curiosity and ability to learn fast. A more of a generalist with genuine interest towards the company and everything it does from the strategic level to the smallest details is most likely the team player the startups are seeking.
Interested in knowing whether the dynamic and fast-paced working culture is something for you? Here are some characteristics you should identify in yourself before applying for a venture-backed company.
1. You can step into various boots
If you think about a marketing job, a more firmly established and several years existed company might have separate teams for social media, content marketing, product marketing, PR, and communications. In a startup, especially if it is in its early stage, there’s often just one person taking care of everything from branding to social media to even other entities that no-one has been hired for yet. Also, it is not one or two times that a lifer (a startuplifers intern) as a frontend coder has performed as a “customer happiness manager” – totally apart from what the company initially hired him or her for.
Not a word about it, this requires a lot of work and ability to tackle several projects at once, but it is also a great way of seeing and experiencing different facets of a field – or, come to that, even other areas than the one you know best.
2. You like to be emotionally invested in your job
There’s a difference between working for a living and living for the work. If you belong to the earlier mentioned, it will be hard to commit to a small team of 6–8 people that need you to stay after 6 PM to solve a problem that the company’s going through. You can also expect emotional times to take place at some point as difficult times for the company means more difficult times for everyone.
By genuinely living for the company’s mission and values, you’re much more likely to play the strong team player role at all times. Not least because of that do startup teams often end up spending time together also outside the working hours.
3. You’re okay with your career path getting a bit curvy
If you’re the kind of person who loves structure and a clear set of stages through which the employer grants you different titles, you might face difficulties with the uncertainty of a startup scene. Don’t get it wrong – you will get promotions, frequently, and they might happen fast. They just don’t follow a straight ladder along with the years worked in a company. Rather, it all depends on how fast the startup manages to grow and how you develop during your career path. In fact, as referred to in the first section, people in startups tend to jump around a bit from role to role, taking different responsibilities along the way.
4. You are both systematic and creative
Like we mentioned in our earlier blogpost, a startup job comes with both freedom and great responsibility. If you’re not much of a settler but rather go for new ideas and ways to break the current processes and operating models, startup life might be for you.
In a startup, no-one will measure your output by working hours but rather the actual outcomes. That is, outcomes that you make in a certain degree of chaos and constant flux of changing norms, structures, and systems. In fact, you should rather see change and chaos as an empowering source that keeps you driving.
The key is to find a balance between coming up with new ideas but also getting things done – in rather unstable circumstances. That being said, if efficient time management and work-life balance are a struggle for you, startup life might wear you out sooner than you realize.
5. You like technology
Not everyone needs to queue at the door when a new model of the iPhone is released or get excited about things like cloud storage, bitcoins, or encryption. However, let’s face it – most of the startups of today operate in the field of technology. So actually liking it and the possibilities it beholds will probably make your working experience a whole lot more enjoyable. By understanding technology (especially the particular field of it that your startup is involved in), you’re more likely to understand better the roles as well as the overall mission of the company for which you’re working.
All in all, the best way to find out whether you and a startup are a match is to do an internship in one that inspires you.
Startuplifers is a student-run internship program that seeks the best startup opportunities just for you, coaches you through applications and interviews, and even helps you with the flights and visas!