What to Expect from Working at a Startup

If you are considering joining a startup for your first job (or wherever you are in your career, for that matter), here’s what you can expect:

You will gain excellent time management and prioritization skills. In a startup environment, priorities can change in an instant. You may also receive requests from many people at once. These two common occurrences can help you stay nimble-minded and ready for the next challenge, constantly re-prioritizing to fit business needs.

You may be expected to take on various projects and tasks. In my first few years at a startup, I created press sheets, sent out mass emails, helped plan events in other states, and even traveled for work. My freedom to touch different aspects of the business eventually led to me learning the ins and outs of Salesforce.com and getting certified as an administrator.

You may be part of a roll-up-your-sleeves culture. I have seen C-Suite executives wash dishes and managers take out the garbage. There is no saying, “That’s not my job” in a young company. The culture at a startup is humble: it will pull any bit of “millennial” entitlement right out from underneath you!

You will get a crash course in strategy. As the business expands, leaders must have a growth strategy. Business practices that worked in a mom-and-pop shop may have to be adapted to a multinational company. Become acquainted with the people who are helping scale the business, as they can teach you a ton about finance, marketing, and operational efficiency within the context of organizational growth.

You will learn that you are the captain of your fate. In smaller companies, career paths are sometimes not defined. This can be a good thing! But you may also feel lost, because up until now you have had guidance counselors and college advisors helping you navigate your way. When you feel it is time for a change, you may choose to A) apply for a position internally B) pave a path for yourself based on your interests and company needs, if this option is available or C) choose to use your fabulous newfound skills at a different company.

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