Ever thought about working for a startup? Today’s guest post is from Annie Favreau, managing editor of Inside Jobs—a site that helps young people make career choices to build strong, successful futures.
3 Career Lessons from Landing a Startup Job
It’s been almost a year since I landed by first real job. As a content manager for a fast-paced tech startup, I’ve had some amazing successes and made my fair share of rookie mistakes (you know the chump who pressed the forward button by accident? Yup, that was me). The startup environment has unique perks and quirks, and it’s taught me a lot about what’s important in a first job. Here’s what I learned from twelve months in the working world:
Culture Fit is Key
At the beginning of my job search, I was so focused on getting a position—any position!—that I might have joined any company that gave me an offer. Looking back, I think culture fit should have been one of my make-or-break job criteria.
For me, company culture isn’t about Whacky T-shirt Friday or using exercise balls instead of office chairs. It’s about shared values. My co-workers and I share a similar type of optimism, drive, and honesty—if we didn’t, I wouldn’t click with the group. This is especially true for small startups (my desk is less than ten feet away from all my co-workers, so any issues would be very apparent), but it’s important for almost any jobseeker.
I’m not saying your first job has to fulfill all your personal values. But I’m convinced that job happiness starts with finding at least on part of your work—or your company—that really resonates with who you are.
Don’t Limit Yourself
As part of a team that’s developing an entirely new product, my job has been extremely dynamic. From managing writers and interviewing job candidates, to running social media platforms and building biz dev relationships, I’ve worked in areas from HR to product development. At most startups, there’s so much to be done that all team members take on tasks that fall way outside their assigned role.
This constant change can be overwhelming, but it’s also a complete career blessing. Not only have I gotten great experience, I’ve learned how to be a versatile (and more valuable) worker. The takeaway idea? Don’t limit yourself to your job title. Volunteer for projects outside your comfort zone, and learn how things work beyond your area of expertise. It will make you a more well-rounded and resourceful worker.
Be Ready for Change
The idea of pivoting—roughly defined as refocusing a business on the fly while still staying true to some core value—is essential for startups. It’s also a great metaphor for thinking about your career. Even if you don’t experience a 180˚ career change at some point in your life, you’ll probably go through at least a couple major pivots. Learning how to embrace change and chaos—without loosing track of who you are—is a skill that will serve you well.
What career lessons did you get from your first job?