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Looking for a career where you are constantly learning? Want to feel like the work you do is valued, and your opinion matters? Then you should consider working for a startup.
When I left my job at an IT business-technology magazine to work for a startup, my decision was met with skepticism. The company I was joining was in the very beginning phases – and there was certainly a level of risk associated. But risk is something I believe millennials should not fear in their careers. After all, if we aren’t willing to take certain risks how will we change the world and make all of our ambitious dreams come true?
We know it is becoming increasingly difficult for new graduates to get a job in their field right out of school, let alone find something that will simply help them pay off their loans in a reasonable period. At the same time, the career path looks nothing like the straight arrow route followed by our parents. It’s not about playing it safe anymore. The truth is, we don’t have as much at stake. We don’t need to fear losing our retirement pension when outside temptations come our way.
Technologies, industries and competition are constantly changing. Social networks make new job prospects more accessible than ever. Once you have a little experience to list on your C/V, you notice recruiters whispering in your ears and suddenly the doors start opening.
But how do you get that experience? You earn it by working for a startup. Here are a few ways working for a startup can help to propel your career.
You Wear Many Hats
When you work for a startup, your day-to-day tasks are never the same. You must constantly fill gaps, even if it’s not in your expertise. If you don’t know how to do something, you learn. There’s simply no one else around to do it. Soon you start to turn weaknesses into new strengths and explore territory you never thought you’d be exploring. The more hats you can wear successfully, the more responsibility you receive. And responsibility is a good thing, because more responsibility means more reward.
You Voice Your Opinions
When you’re a part of a small team, chances are better your opinions will be recognized than if you were working in a large corporate environment. If you bring brilliant ideas to the table, they’re likely to be implemented, and soon you’ll be looking back on a project and thinking, “Wow… I started that.” Keep in mind, your not-so-brilliant ideas will be heard too, which may eventually make you wish no one was listening. But remember, failure is the foundation to innovation. We need to have room to fail. We must be able to accept our mistakes if we’re ever going to learn from them.
You Make a Difference
Millennials don’t want to be another cog in the wheel. When you work for a startup, you can see the value in the work you do. Your managers are more likely to build relationships with you, because they only have three employees to talk to anyway – and it just so happens you’re one of them. When you’re able to create relationships of trust and transparency, you feel more connected to the work you do and the organization you represent. This unlocks new motivation to perform.
You Have Opportunities to Lead
If you join a company in its infancy and stick with it, over time you’ll gain experience. As new employees come on board, you’ll be there to guide the way. They’ll begin to look to you for leadership, seeking your advice and knowledge. It’s important for startup managers to demonstrate the possibility of upward mobility within the company. Millennials want to lead. Take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills and manage your own projects from start to finish. The startup environment offers some room for you to experiment like an entrepreneur, but within a more secure structure.
You Work Independently
Though startup founders can be known to be micromanagers, there comes a point when they are too busy to watch every move you make. They realize they need to trust you to get your work done, and soon they begin to give you the flexibility for when you do it. We know millennials are changing the face of the 9-to-5, and startups are becoming a significant part of this change. They don’t want (nor can they justify) the overhead costs of traditional office space, meaning it’s more likely you’ll be able to work remotely and do your laundry or walk the dog during your lunch break without anyone thinking twice about it.
You Build Experience
It all comes down to this one final point. Even if working for a startup means taking a pay cut, the financial repercussions are worth the newfound proficiencies. At a startup, you’re learning every day, usually digesting tons of information at once. The experience you gain working in this environment can turn you from a novice into an expert within weeks, rather than years (as is often the case in corporate organizations). You’ll gain skills and knowledge that far exceed the initial talents you brought to the table, preparing you to tackle any job at any corporation down the line – that is, if you ever decide to go that route.
But I’m willing to bet this won’t be the case. Once you work for a startup, you’ll have a taste for the entrepreneurial life. Before you know it, you’ll be building your own business…perhaps even launching your own magazine.