It's been quite a year, hasn't it? We're fighting a plague, an inept government, systemic racism, and police brutality all at the same time. Not to mention that whole massive unemployment thing. If you're reading this, there's something like a 13% unemployment rate right now. Are you unemployed? I am. As of today's date, I've been effectively unemployed since Mid-March. It's been a wild ride, let me tell you!
So I'm thinking, if things are this bad for me right now, then others are probably experiencing something similar. You very well could be in the same boat as me right now. And if that's the case, then I think I have some advice for you that you might find helpful. What I'm going to talk about comes from my 4 years of experience working at Apervita (a great place to work!) as well as my time contracting and interviewing with other startups across the country.
I feel like at this point in my career, I've seen a lot. I've worked for small businesses and behemoth-sized ad agencies. I've done 6-month contracts and jobs for family members. But the type of business that I want to talk about today is (as you have already guessed), startups.
Startups are very unique places in which to work. They provide chances to work on truly interesting, and possibly world-changing problems. They open pathways to wealth that more traditional jobs cannot offer. They are also probably the best place to start a career for young developers looking to increase their reputation.
Startups Can Launch Your Career
Regardless of your age, spending time at a startup will get your name spread around. Startups need to find an effective team that works well together, and they need to find that combination of people as quickly as possible. Investor dollars are on the line, after all. This naturally can lead to a number of ex-employees, people who for one reason or another just weren't fitting into the team. When they go, they will bring their memories of you with them, to whatever new business and team they are joining on the other side. If you have left these people with positive memories of working with you, they will no doubt recommend you for future work. Your network can grow much faster than someone else who works at a company with lower employee turnover.
Even if you have no intentions of leaving your current job, it's never a bad thing for people in your field to learn about you and your reputation. One day, you just might be glad they did.
You Have The Chance to Do Great Things
What even is a startup? Well, I define a startup as a business that is not yet self-funded and relies on investor capital to operate. Their goal is to prove the viability of their business model, eventually transitioning from borrowing money from their investors to earning money for them.
Startups often set out to achieve incredible goals. There are startups who are pushing the limits of science and technology. There are startups who are trying to revolutionize existing industries or even create new ones. There are even startups who are trying to enact social change. If you find a job in an industry that you care about personally, you can feel good going to work every day knowing that not only are you making money, you're doing something that's important.
You Just Might Become Filthy Rich
This next point is not as common, but when you compare working at a startup to working at an ad agency, you're way more likely to get rich from working at the startup. Why? Well, Stock Options as a benefit are something you just are not likely to be offered at a regular, established company. This is usually because most employees simply want to be paid actual money for their work as opposed to options. Startups, on the other hand, are much more likely to offer options as a benefit in lieu of a higher salary or other benefits. For younger people who are just starting out, this may not be the best form of compensation, but for others who are further along in their career and have some money saved up, taking stock options might make more sense. Depending on how much you believe in the business, and how successful you think it will be, taking options can be your shortcut to abundant wealth.
You're Going To Learn a Lot
Another great thing about working at a startup is the fact that whatever the subject or industry your company serves, you are going to learn a ton. This knowledge will likely benefit you throughout the rest of your career. Let me give you an example.
While I was at Apervita, there were a number of things that I learned, that still benefit me today. First, HIPAA certification. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (that's one of the certification questions!), and it allows a person to work with medically sensitive data. I was certified three years in a row during my tenure at Apervita, and I can't tell you how many job listings I've viewed since then that would require future HIPAA Certification. Just having that in my background alone is a huge bonus during interviews.
Another example that I'll throw in for free was the Agile Methodology. Before Apervita, I had heard of this mysterious approach to project management, but never experienced it. After leaving Apervita, I have a robust understanding of Scrum, Daily Standups, Sprints, and Kanban Boards, too, some of which I have since applied to other projects.
In your case it could easily be completely different things that you pick up during your time at a startup, but I can guarantee you that whatever it is, it will stay with you and be useful to you for the rest of your career.
It's Not All Roses and Sunshine
I may have made it seem like startups are wonderful places to work. They certainly can be! But just as there are pros, there are cons as well. I'll be addressing that subject in my next post. Thanks for reading!