Why should a 20-something work in a startup?
I worked in corporate in the US and also in India (Expedia, and Wipro). As of now, I work in a startup in India that is a size of just 8 people.
There are stark differences in the work culture, learnings, speed, stress, rewards and many more.
But I would like to tell you why if you’re a 20-something you should work for a startup rather than a corporate. But working for a corporate has its advantages too , in early 20s ! Let me discuss that in a different blog.
Why should you work for a startup in early 20s ?
Learning: how about learning something that a corporate teaches you in 4–5 years in just 1–1.5years? how is this possible?
Due to lack of staff at startups, you’re are always given a higher responsibility. Higher the responsibility, harder you have to work towards it to achieve it. Harder you’re working towards something, more learning it is !
Harder you’re working towards something, more learning it is !
Technologies or frameworks: Startups easily adopt new technologies or frameworks compared to a big corporate. Or Startups easily take in the new ideas that are coming from you.
Ideas, increases creativity.
If this idea that you gave scales up, or contributes to the growth of the startup immensely, it makes you a natural leader !
A successful idea increases your confidence.
It makes you a natural leader. You become a leader very early, brimming with confidence.
Learn from the basics: A corporate company has everything set in place, you get in and start working. For example, if you were to work on a database project, it would’ve already been set, you get in and execute SQL queries on it. If that DB goes down, you report that to an admin, and he/she fixes it. If the queries are slow, you might fix it, or report it to your senior engineer. If there’s a report required, BI Engineer will do that for you.
Whereas in a startup, a database needs to be set by you, it has to be fixed by you, you have to write the SQL queries, you have to write the reports yourself.
This gives you a lot of learning in your early 20s.
Multiple domains and pushing the envelope: At startups, you cannot say that you’re done with your work ! You have to go a bit above and beyond your work constraints to make the company successful.
For example: Early stage startups may not have the luxury of hiring a full-fledged tester. So a developer and a PM has to go beyond their duties and act as testers, to ensure successful release.
So you pick these skills being in a startup.
See your impact directly: What you do is directly seen in the results. You’re directly held accountable, nobody in between. Hence more stress for you to deliver the best thing possible.
In a corporate, if a software delivery goes wrong, the PM , the tester, a senior dev and lot of others share the responsibility. But that's not the case in startups.
Likewise with the success as well. Your impact directly speaks !
Experience the speed & thrill: At startups the process is low, as compared to corporates, and also a small bug can make a big loss into the pockets of a startup, hence the fixes or features are produced at a breakneck speed. With each release comes a great burden of testing , fixing the last minute bugs, pushing the features to production, and more !
This is stressful, this is fast, but this is thrilling !
Soft skills/ Attitude: At startups, the processes or frameworks are very less. Hence it gives rise to a lot of ambiguity. Solving an ambiguity enhances your soft skills. Not just ambiguity with the tech problems, but there will be a lot of other ambiguities as well !
For example: You want a holiday, you take it with the consent of your manager. But you later realize that your startup’s policy (that you and your manager are unaware of or partially aware of) is against taking a random holiday. Now you lose your pay because of that ! This leads to a situation where you have to muster your soft skills to question the management, with humility.
Whereas in a corporate there are set rules and HR makes you aware of them on the day of joining.
Downsides of working in a startup
Lower salaries: Salaries are lower, but not to worry. In your 20s you don’t have a family to take care of. So take risks , learn more, learn everything that you have to in your 20s, and when you have a family its ok to go at a normal pace and take less risks, and earn more in a stable job !
Stress: If you can’t manage stress, then this is not for you! But remember, stress is something that you face in every job, every minute, so it’s better you make yourself foolproof of stress from the early stages of your career !
Randomization: When you are ready to work on a particular task, you will given another task suddenly, and this is the randomization ! This might lead to lesser efficiency in an employee, but that’s how a startup is ! Still as an employee you have to be very efficient despite the randomization. That’s one way of handling stress though.
Frugality: Startups may not throw you unlimited booze parties, as it is the case with big corporates.
If you’re a 20 something , work at startups for learning, take risks, work extra time, learn more, gain that extra confidence.
When you’re into 30s or have a family, or when you lose that risk appetite, move to a corporate, and this extra confidence that you gained in a startup makes you go up in a startup pretty quickly !