Why You Should Consider Starting Up Your Career at a Start-Up
People are starting their own businesses now more than ever; this means that there are more opportunities than ever to work for one. Here are eight reasons you should start up your career at a start-up.
Why Work at a Start-Up
1. They’re flexible and informal.
If you’re still an undergraduate, working for an organization with flexible hours is a must. It’s the only way to make things work between classes, grocery shopping, student group meetings, and other commitments. New businesses have the advantage of being scrappy and getting work done whenever possible. This scrappiness also means that odds are you can dress comfortably. There’ll be plenty of time to wear a tie and dress shoes down the road.
2. You gain hands-on experience.
Sure, you learned about business (marketing, finance, supply chain, operations, etc.) in the classroom. Or maybe you didn’t. Either way, working for a start-up is where the real learning starts. Things are a lot more—and less—complicated when it comes to actually working for a business day-to-day. Being a political science major, I didn’t receive any specialized training that’s directly applicable to furthering the goals of a business. Working for a start-up solves that problem by providing hands-on experience.
3. You can pursue aspects of business that you’re interested in.
In the same vein as the last point, working for a start-up lets you get your feet wet in any aspect of the business that interests you. There’s no feeling that you’re siloed and can’t contribute to other aspects of the company. Want to help the business get a better search rank on Google (or Yahoo if that’s more your speed)? Sit down and learn search engine optimization. One of my criticisms of STEM and specific business education programs is that you don’t get your feet wet in other areas of the working world. Working at a start-up offers you experience in all levels of the organization.
4. Minimal Bureaucracy, Maximal Transparency
If you’re working for a larger company, it’s possible that you don’t interact with your supervisor all that much. You may not ever see leadership, those who sit in rooms and make the decisions that shape the organization that you work for. When you do have ideas for bettering the organization, you have nowhere to voice them, and if they are voiced it’s unlikely that they’ll be implemented. That’s not the case for start-ups. No red-tape. See your ideas come in real-time.
5. They skew younger.
Another bonus of working for a start-up is the fact that it’s most likely a young company. Most people working at start-ups, at least in my experience, are at similar stages in their lives. They still have the luxury of minimal ties and independence. It's nothing but fun to work with people who are around the same age as you
6. You build closer relationships.
You develop lasting relationships with your coworkers. You’re all a part of something bigger than yourselves and have an uphill battle together. According to recent research published in Psychological Science, what doesn’t kill us may make us stronger as a group. I wouldn’t go as far to say that working for a start-up is painful, but it certainly has its hard times.
7. It develops your work ethic.
Working for a start-up gives you the rare opportunity to see your contributions in real-time. It’s a bit of a cliche to say that you get out what you put in, but that’s really the case when it comes to entrepreneurship.
8. It’s a huge talking point when securing another job...if this one doesn’t work out.
This one may go without saying. But in sum, getting hands-on experience gives you so much to talk about and demonstrate in your interviews. There’s no more grasping at straws and referencing tough student group projects (gosh, I hate those) when you’re asked about a challenge you’ve overcome.
Plus, it sounds impressive. Always a fun talking point to impress your uncle at the Thanksgiving table.
Opportunities at the University and Surrounding Community
The Carlson School of Management offers numerous opportunities for young, undergraduate entrepreneurs and those who want to get involved in start-ups. The Gary S. Holmes Center for Entrepreneurship has a plethora of resources for students who want to get involved in start-ups.
First, they have an annual entrepreneurship contest called the BizPitch Contest. This is a bit like SharkTank, where entrepreneurs have 90 seconds to pitch their business to a panel and then have to answer questions about their go-to-market strategies. They have a Grand Prize as well as prizes for Most Creative, Biggest Social Impact, and People’s Choice (where spectators in the room vote on their favorite). I had the pleasure of pitching Bibliate, a scholarly article summary company, last year and won! The winnings have since gone to paying the graduate student content creators at Bibliate.
There’s also a class offered called “Entrepreneurship in Action,” which gives you class credit and time to develop your own start-up idea. Who knows, you may even have the next Facebook on your hands. And, if starting a business feels like too big of a task, there’s a program that directly pairs you with a start-up and compensates you (monetarily) for work that you may not otherwise receive. Consider checking that out!