BEER BELLIES, BUBBLE SOCCER & FREE LUNCH
WHAT DOES IT REALLY TAKE TO WORK FOR A STARTUP?
As the euphoria of summer vacation comes to a striking halt, it’s time to start seriously thinking about employment. Whether you already have a job and are contemplating your next career move, or are a recent grad and are looking for your first ‘adult job’, it’s important to know what’s out there.
For many grads, startups are often a second, third, or fourth option. Tainted by the negative image of long hours, little pay and a dark work environment, startups do not get the attention they rightfully deserve. Ok maybe the hours are long and sometimes when we forget to pay the electricity bills the lights go out – kidding!!
Two years ago I chose the startup route, and if given the opportunity again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Despite my short career with startups, here are the top three things I have taken away from the experience:
I. Take on more responsibilities and get exposure to life altering opportunities
You just got your diploma and you are hungry for an opportunity to apply the knowledge you painfully acquired over the past few years. At a startup, you get that opportunity from day one. You will quickly learn that your actions will profoundly influence the success (or failure) of the company. Colleagues will ask for your opinion, your ‘boss’ will ask you to develop strategic plans, formulate a vision – you won’t be making the coffee, I promise. At times it might feel like you are running a team of one (and quite often that is literally the case), but this is where your autonomy kicks in. You will be handed tasks that might be outside your skillset, but this is your opportunity to learn – beyond the classroom!
I have been at mnubo for over a year now, and I have learned so much about IoT, data analytics and even writing a business plan. School will teach you a lot, but it’s not everything. Working for a startup, and any company for that matter, will allow you to continue to learn things every day.
II. Work with talented people, be part of a great culture and get recognition for a job well done
“If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room” – it sounds cheesy but it really defines what it’s like to work for a startup. Entrepreneurs are some of the most intelligent people I know, because a) they are capable of transforming a vision into a reality (an under-appreciated skill) and b) they are putting their life on the line (excuse the dramatics) to make a difference in the world. When you work in a startup, my advice is: be a sponge. Absorb. These people, your colleagues, will shape the person you will become. But more importantly, working in a startup is fun! It’s not a myth. Startups really do embody the ‘work hard, play harder’ mentality. Joining a startup means waking up every morning, happy to walk into the (well lit) office and ready to collaborate with the colleagues you enjoy spending time with.
Startups hire the best of the best; people with a strong work ethic, who are capable of quickly adapting to new and challenging situations. If you do your job well, you will be recognized for it. However, there is no free riding, once you start slacking, you’re out. It’s what we call the “hire slow, fire fast” system!
III. It’s not all about beer and foosball, every day we hustlin!
I mean, we do drink beer and we have a foosball league, but we work very hard too. Your friends might be enjoying the comfort of a 9 to 5 job – aka they know when they go home, and that’s great. But in a startup, there is no 9 to 5. You come in and you stay as long as you have to, to get the job done. You redefine ‘frugal’, because startups run on a tight budget…you learn how to do more with less.
But you will also rethink your definition of fun. At mnubo, we have Happy Friday’s, which are 1-2 hours of social activities (bubble soccer anyone?). We also have bi-annual mnudays, where we leave the office behind and enjoy a day of team building activities.
As a member of a startup, you are now part of a bigger community. Startupers are very passionate and like to meet and share their experiences. They go to meetups, they have their own parties, meeting spaces and they host hackathons (because the work week is not enough!)… Who knows, you might even turn into an entrepreneur yourself!
Startups are changing the world. They challenge the status quo by introducing innovation to archaic industries. I think by now I’ve done a pretty good job of describing the benefits of working for a startup – and by the way, I’ve only scratched the surface – but before you polish your resume and start hunting for all ‘hiring startups’, stop by one of Montreal’s hottest startups (mnubo) at the annual Startup Open House to experience the culture first hand.