Curious if forgoing corporate
America for a startup might be right for you?
You Like Wearing a Many Hats
Think about the marketing
function at a large, publically traded company. There are probably individual
teams for email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and
product marketing—and that’s before we even look at the communications team. And
one of these roles can be great if you want to develop strong expertise in one
On the flip side, if you work in
marketing at a startup—especially an early-stage one—you might be the only
marketing person for a year or more. And in that time, you’ll need to focus on
branding, communications, product marketing, social media, and anything else
that comes up under the marketing umbrella, not to mention picking up slack in
other areas of the company where no one has been hired yet. It’s a lot of work and
takes an ability to juggle multiple projects at once, but it’s also a great way
to get exposed to a lot of different facets of a field.
You Like Being Emotionally Invested in Your Job
Working at an early-stage startup
requires more than a consistent 9-to-5 schedule (or sometimes, even 9-to-9).
When there are six, eight, or 10 employees, there are going to be a lot of late
nights and emotional times at HQ. And if you don’t care about your company
succeeding or about your founders’ vision for the company, it’s going to be a
lot more difficult to be a team player when you get the “we need all hands on
deck tonight” email at 6:30 PM as you’re about to head out.
Not every person is like this
which is totally normal, by the way. You may have heard the phrase “live to
work or work to live.” If you’re more on the “work to live” side of things,
then a job that requires you to emotionally commit for months or years on end
might not be the best place for you.
You’re Happy Charting Your Own Career Path
At a typical company, the career
path might look something like this: assistant, associate, manager, director,
senior director, vice president. But at a startup, more likely than not,
there’s no defined career path. That’s not to say promotions don’t happen—they
can, and do, frequently—but most startups don’t have a direct career ladder you
can climb. Many people actually jump around a bit from role to role as they
take on new responsibilities. In short, if you are the type of person who loves
structure (or who defines success by the number of titles earned in a
three-year period), you might struggle with the uncertainty of a startup.
Technology Makes You Happy
This is specific to technology
startups, but you’re going to enjoy your work and time working at a startup a
whole lot more if you genuinely love technology. If you salivate over the
newest iPhone or think there’s a genuine future in wearable technology, startup
life might be right for you. If you get excited about cloud storage, download
speeds, and encryption, startup life might be right for you. And if you
brainstorm what you’d build if you had the right tech and the right team, then
startup life might be right for you. Again, technology isn’t exciting for
everyone, and that’s okay. But if that’s the case, you’ll probably be happier
taking a job in an industry you love.
One simple way to see if you like
startup life? Get an internship at a company you’re excited about. There’s no
better way to see if startups are right for you.