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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 get a graduate job at a large corporation or a startup can be difficult.
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, corporations and startups are polar opposites - and ultimately the decision may come down to your personal preferences.
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.
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On a broad scale, startups work in an indistinguishable way to other businesses.
In short, a startup company is one in which a group of people work together to create and sell a product or service.
So, what distinguishes startups from other companies?
A startup is a company in the first stages of its operations, founded to bring a new product or service to market.
Startups are different from traditional businesses primarily because they are grounded on disruptive innovation, created to address a perceived goods or services deficiency.
Startups seek out a new, innovative business model, while other companies focus on successfully executing a pre-existing model.
Startups are designed to have high growth potential.
Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur and professor at Imperial College, describes a startup as “a temporary organization designed to look for a business model that is repeatable and scalable.”
In contrast, a company is “a permanent organisation designed to execute a business model that is repeatable and scalable.”
Startups are also differentiated from other companies by how they seek financial investment.
Startups tend to rely on capital that comes from investors or venture capital firms, while other small businesses tend to rely on loans and grants.
Startups are usually comprised of relatively small teams.
In a small team, it is unlikely that there will be many (if any) people with the same skillset as you.
As such, you will likely have much greater responsibility over tasks than you would in a large corporate environment.
It’s also fair to say that, in a startup, everyone is learning.
Working within a small team encourages you to take on duties outside of your specific role to contribute to the success of the wider business, helping you to develop new skills very quickly.
The advantage of being in a small startup team is that you will often be learning directly from the founder of the company and/or senior employees.
This an invaluable opportunity when you are in the early stages of your career.
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.
"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.
By taking on a number of different responsibilities and working closely with senior members of the team, startup environments enable you to prove your worth early on.
Due to the close-knit nature of most startups, your work will be noticed if it has had a direct impact on the business.
Management will be able to clearly see your involvement in a project’s initial stages to completion.
As such, the rate of advancement at startups tends to be much faster that its corporation counterparts.
If you can show an ability to adapt, grow and succeed with the increased responsibility startup environments require, you will progress to seniority quickly.
In short, as a startup learns to overcome challenges, makes big changes and ultimately grows, you will also grow professionally.
The values and attitudes of a business dictate its work environment.
If you’re not happy with the workplace culture of your employer, your job satisfaction and mental wellbeing will likely be impeded.
That’s why the company culture at startups is something to be valued.
Due to their smaller size, startups tend to foster a collaborative environment that encourages people to help where they can on tasks outside of their original remit.
Relatedly, startups often favour a fluid structure over rigid hierarchy, enabling open discussion and cooperation between all team members.
This in turn allows junior employees to have a say in shaping their company culture.
"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.”
- Colin Hewitt, CEO & Founder of FloatApp
It’s no secret that startups also tend to offer great perks.
From company trips, flexible hours and remote working to gym discounts and unlimited holiday, every startup will offer a ‘benefits of the job’ package.
To summarise, working at a startup will allow you to find your niche, take on big responsibilities, and enable you to fast-track your professional development.
Being able to shape your own own role, as well as the wider business, provides a steeper learning curve than working in a large corporate ever could.
So, if you ask me, working in a startup is a great choice for anyone in the early stages of their career.
Want to work at a startup? Working in a startup is the perfect way for a graduate to kickstart their career - check out our range of graduate startup jobs in London and the UK.