Fresh faced and full of enthusiasm, graduates are forced to make a tough decision before their career even begins. Do you take the entry level position at a large company or accept that job offer from an exciting new startup? As a recent graduate, I had to ask myself this very question.
That large corporation offers a higher income and better job security. Crippling university debt and an addiction to snowboarding (which isn't exactly cheap) makes this all the more tempting. But I rolled the dice, joined WorkingMouse
and it's significantly helped my professional development for a number of reasons.
Too often corporations hire personnel to complete a specific role. That's where it starts and ends. Your particular skill set allows you to perform that role within the company with no exploration. Startups don't have the resources available to hire an employee for each particular role. As a result you'll find yourself trying your hand at different tasks, tasks you weren't taught at university or wouldn't have attempted in a traditional role. My background is in law and business management but just last week I was designing graphics. It's a great way to equip yourself with skills that might be vital later on in your career.
For many startups it's all about experimentation and innovation. The fact no process has been established helps breed this innovation culture. It means you're given the license to go out and try different tactics to see what works best - which is only known after you've experimented. The ability to think outside the box is an invaluable trait, especially with artificial intelligence on the rise. It's also more rewarding to find a solution to a business problem on your own.
Very rarely, if ever will you get to meet the CEO or any high level manager as a graduate at a large corporation. There's simply too many cogs in the wheel. Contrast this to a startup with 10-20 employees, where you will invariably work closely with the founder. The founder will likely be an entrepreneur who was able to identify a business problem and develop an innovative solution. Working closely with an entrepreneur gives you the opportunity to learn what it takes to run a business.
Before I started at WorkingMouse I was under the impression a job consisted of turning up to work at 9 with a briefcase and staying in a cubicle till 5. This couldn't be further from the truth. The office is an open space, designed to encourage collaboration. We play music through the speakers and have guest speakers present on Fridays - with a cheeky beer to help fuel the creative juices.
When I joined WorkingMouse, we had less than 20 employees. This means you're not stuck in some corner working on mundane tasks that add no real value. Everything you do is noticeable and directly contributes to the success (or not) of the business. Its definitely more rewarding than being another cog in the wheel.
Startups embrace a new set of rules. Age or experience has nothing to do with your position at WorkingMouse. It's based on one attribute - ability. Provided a new graduate has the ability to lead and a strong work ethic, there's nothing stopping them from becoming a project lead.
Being able to follow instructions is great but it will only get you so far. In a startup you'll learn how to set your own goals and contribute without strict instructions or oversight. This is because no one has time to manage you. You need to manage yourself. Just like in university, no one's peering over your shoulder while you complete your assignment. It's a valuable trait and will serve you well as your career progresses.
A lot of people want that corner office on the 54th floor but chances are your first job won't get you there. The best tools graduates can equip themselves with come from joining a startup. And who knows, you may just be at the next Apple.