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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“I Will Teach You to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi

I used to think that investing was only for people in suits who work at Goldman Sachs and that planning expenditures was only for traditional households with a mom, dad and two kids, who, as a family, plan out expenditure of every cent (“What’s the Cheerios budget like for this month, honey?”) After reading this book, however, I realized that my ~*SELF CENTERED MILLENNIAL GENERATION*~ can get huge returns just by doing what we do best: being “lazy” (automating payments) and entitled (negotiating prices and salaries).

I Will Teach You to Be Rich is a six-week plan that teaches millennials (and really anyone else) to manage their finances in a funny, not-scary way. Ramit Sethi, a personal finance blogger and entrepreneur of IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com, delves into how we can save money and even invest without feeling guilty about spending on things we like.

The book covers:

  • How credit scores work + cool tips to raise your credit score fast with a few phone calls
  • Perks of credit cards and how to choose one (travel insurance, extended warranties, points programs)
  • Opening online savings accounts to earn up to 10x more interest than a big bank
  • Saving for a purpose (vacation, wedding, etc.)
  • Creating a budget based on fixed costs and investing that allows some wiggle room for ~*FUN*~
  • Automating deposits to your savings account so you don’t even miss the money
  • Budgeting without sacrificing things you love by giving up things you didn’t like that much anyway
  • Making the most of a 401(K) (company retirement account)
  • Opening a Roth IRA (another retirement account that is super easy to open and can just chill and roll with the punches of the market)
  • Why you shouldn’t be afraid of “investing” and how some “experts” are quacks
  • Practical nuggets like how to afford your wedding, whether home ownership is right for you, and how to earn more by negotiating your salary and/or starting a side business

I really enjoyed this book and made a lot of quick, free changes right off the bat. Little changes (“small wins”) such as increasing my credit limit (to lower my debt ratio) made me feel confident to make bigger changes, like paying off my car.

Every 20-something needs to read this book. It’s everything we didn’t learn in school. The $10 you will spend on it (or you can “cut costs mercilessly” by going to the library) turns out to be way less than you would spend on a financial advisor. In fact, it is probably less than the interest on your monthly student loan payment.