4 Things I Learned Working for Startups

Contrary to what many want to believe, you’re not playing at a startup and you aren’t likely to get rich either. However, it could be a massive boost to your career as it was to mine.

Based on my experiences at startups, I was able to land the best role of my career. Launching my growth from entry-level intern to senior analyst in less than five years.

If you are thinking about joining a startup, or perhaps already there, consider some of the lessons I learned below. I hope that you can use them to maximize your time there and use it to jump to your next career move.

That is, until you retire with all those stock options, of course.

  1. Most startups aren’t all party or all work

Somewhere the myth perpetuated that startups are grownup frat parties or all work and no play and there is no middle belt.

The truth is, most of the time, this is not always the case. You get to work some long hours but there is an occasional TGIF- Thank God it’s Friday and several free food, drinks and work from home. 

2. It may not be your job, but it needs to get done

In a startup, there was never a sense of “that’s not my job.” There aren’t enough employees to fill every role or need.

When I joined the startups, I was given a title and a specific work scope with additional task added to my JD but I did not think I will be the secretary, customer care specialist, and Operations Associate- I just applied for an Analyst role.

They weren’t always fun or glamorous, but they gave me opportunities to shine and to learn. It opened doors for additional responsibilities and increased my work scope.

It was an additional task that showed my versatility, leadership and communication skills

3. People skills are just as necessary as technical skill

I have had the privilege of working with incredible people. Some of the best at what they do or junior talent that will be sought after in years to come.

But even with impressive skills, those without good interpersonal skills quickly suffered.

They may have got the job done. But with only five of you on the project, interacting with a challenging person become a drag and quickly the whole company could be affected.

It is easy to stand out on such small teams. If you do not take into account the personalities around you, it will turn for the worst.

4. Learn and adjust

A startup requires intelligence and flexibility to succeed. Both at the individual level as well as the corporate.

This provides a great learning opportunity for you. Learn to adjust and be flexible by paying attention to your teammates’ work and the direction of the company as a whole.

When a coworker announces a change, strive to understand why they made that decision, what caused them to change their minds and learn from their adaptations.

Same goes for when a leader makes sudden changes to the company’s direction. Depending on the company, you may get a transparent view of how a board of directors operates. At the least, you should be able to learn why and see how a company adjusts to meet changing demand or pivots to a new customer proposition.

4 Things I Learned Working for Startups


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