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"If you want to understand how a business works, go work for a startup. You'll get insight into every area of a business and get a better understanding of what you enjoy and what you don't." – Bruce Walker, Managing Director at FutureX.
As a Key Account Manager at Give A Grad A Go, I spend a lot of time speaking to candidates about the kind of environment they want to work in. I know that deciding whether to work at a large corporate or a startup can be difficult, and especially as a new graduate it can be tricky to determine which one will be better for you and your career.
In many aspects of working life, corporates and startups are polar opposites - and ultimately the decision may come down to your personal preferences, and what you care most about when you're looking for graduate jobs.
But I’m biased, and I think if you’re a graduate looking to quickly learn and develop your skills in the early stages of your career, startup life could be for you. Don’t just take my word for it – here are just a few of the reasons why getting a graduate job at a startup can be so beneficial.
Working at a startup normally equates to a fairly small team. Because of this, it’s unlikely that there will be many people with the same skillset as you – so as a fresh graduate you’ll potentially have much greater responsibility than you would in a corporate environment.
Working within a small team will also encourage you to take on tasks outside of your specific role in order to contribute to the success of the wider business – helping you to develop new skills very quickly.
Working at a startup, you’ll be able try on a number of different hats.
Not only will this keep you stimulated in your day-to-day role, but it will also give you the opportunity to find out what you are most interested in, and discover what you are best at – an invaluable opportunity when you are in the early stages of your career.
By working in a startup, you’ll often be learning directly from the founder of the company, or people of a similar standing – something that is uncommon in a much larger corporation.
It’s also fair to say that in a startup, everyone is always learning - and as the business overcomes challenges, makes big changes and ultimately grows, you will also develop professionally.
Startup life isn’t plain sailing – and many young startups live by the mantra “work hard, play hard”. That’s why the company culture in startups is so great. It’s no secret that startups often offer great perks – think ping pong tables, flexible working hours, beer on tap and plenty of free food.
Even better, working at a startup that is still in its early stages will allow you to shape your own company culture – as Colin Hewitt, CEO & Founder of FloatApp says, "at a startup you have a chance to really help create the culture rather than push against an established one. You'll have an opportunity to challenge things and experiment with ideas and solutions.”
Working at a startup will often mean that you’ll be able to progress extremely quickly.
By taking on a number of different responsibilities and working closely with senior members of the team, you’ll be able to prove your worth early on, and ultimately will be likely to reach managerial positions quicker than you would in a large corporate company -"at a startup, the rate of advancement will be much faster, and your opportunities will greater if you can show an ability to adapt, grow and take responsibility.”
At a small startup, everything you do will be noticed. Seeing your work have a direct impact on the business, especially if it is an idea that you have taken from its initial stages to completion, can not only be hugely satisfying, but great for your CV.
There's usually a lot more red tape to get through to implement change in larger organisations, and the bigger wheels take longer to turn.
Working at a startup will allow you to find your niche, to take on big responsibilities, and ultimately have a real impact on the direction of the company.
Being able to shape your own own role, as well as the wider business, will provide a steeper learning curve than working in a large corporate ever could – so if you ask me, working in a startup is the perfect choice for a graduate in the early stages of their career.