By Naomi Fink
Looking for an interesting work experience to boost your resume and help you gain practical skills? Consider working at a start-up. Working at a start-up is a unique experience through which you will learn quite a lot in just a short period of time. For six months of this past year, I worked for a positive psychology start-up called Positive Voices, beginning as an intern and working my way up to marketing manager. I learned a lot through this experience, and it’s possible for you to do the same. In particular, here are seven things you’ll learn from working at a start-up.
1. Take initiative
Working at a start-up means getting in on the ground floor. Projects and tasks are hands-on, everything is new and fast-paced, and the organization is still figuring out exactly what its mission is and how to achieve it. You will most likely be working with a small team where each individual pulls a lot of weight and has a lot of room to experiment. This is a great opportunity to be creative and take initiative. If you have an idea, speak up. If something needs to get done, step up and do it. Your insights and contributions could lead to big changes for the company and for your personal career.
2. Be passionate
In order to work for a start-up, you need to be passionate about what you’re doing. In fact, every member of the team needs to buy into the company’s mission and be dedicated to making it happen for the start-up to succeed. Start-up leaders eat, breathe, and sleep their organizations’ mission statement. If this sounds like you, then maybe working at a start-up is the right fit. Find a cause you’re passionate about and help build up the company with your unique drive and determination.
3. Team work
Working at a start-up, you will learn how to operate as part of a team. This is a really wonderful opportunity to form close bonds with your co-workers. It also means picking up the slack when your teammates slip up or drop the ball. Start-ups are typically short on money and rely on a few people to do a lot of work. It can be frustrating at times, but the connections you’ll form and people skills you’ll gain along the way are well worth it.
Communication is key when working at a start-up. The environment is quick-paced and things could change at any moment. By working at a start-up, you’ll learn how to develop an open line of communication and will get used to checking in with your co-workers frequently. This is a really useful skill that is applicable in pretty much all areas of life.
5. How to give and accept feedback
Start-ups involve a lot of back and forth with your co-workers. You will need to learn how to jive together to get things done and sometimes this may require you to change your tactics. Ultimately, your job is to do what’s best for the company. If someone on your team tells you to change something, don’t take it personally. By working at a start-up, you will quickly learn how to take in feedback well and how to give it too.
Part of working for a start-up means learning how to be flexible. Your job description and/or assignments may change suddenly, and it’s important to learn how to adapt. Timelines may also shift quickly. Something you thought you had a week to get done may actually need to get done by the end of the day, and work you finished last week may not be used for another month. Working at a start-up, you will learn how to prioritize tasks, juggle multiple assignments, roll with the punches, and think on your feet.
7. It’s a risk
As with any company, there is a risk in working at a start-up. However, this risk is amplified when you consider the fact that start-ups spend at least the first few months outputting more money than they’re taking in. Sometimes this investment pays off; many successful and well-established companies began as struggling start-ups. Yet, there are also many instances where start-ups fail. The company you’re working for could go under at any point, and it’s important to recognize that risk.
Working at a start-up is a great opportunity to learn, grow, take initiative, and live your passion. You will learn a lot very quickly and make strong connections that will stick with you even if the company you’re working for tanks. It’s a risk to work for a start-up, but the skills you’ll gain through the experience are invaluable.
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