Periscope. Jet.com. Tarte Cosmetics. Sweet Leaf Tea. Buzzfeed.
If you’re wondering what these companies who create and supply completely different products could possibly have in common, the answer is that they all began as startups, and have blossomed into booming business ventures. While being employed at a startup at its inception can be a bit risky, they are often worth the rewards. Here is some general information about working for startups as both a co-op student and full-time employee alike.
· Startups are generally fairly small. As an intern or professional, you may have several duties within your initial position. You’ll gain expertise in a variety of fields related to the company, and while that may increase your workload, you will obtain diverse transferable skills.
· There are opportunities for ownership in the company. Since it is just beginning to expand, you may be able to purchase a fair amount of stock in the company, or be eligible for leadership roles sooner rather than later.
· You’ll be working with the latest innovative technology. Startups have to rely on advanced communication and marketing methods, solid business models, and products that solve problems that may not have been approachable in the past. Therefore, startup employees may be some of the first people to ever use a certain kind of software or programming language. They have the chance to be creative right from the get-go and discover how to fix any flaws in the products at hand.
· Personal growth and promotion are inevitable. You will be a part of a smaller team that allows for equitable division of work and thus many chances to promote your own skills as you advance within the company and overall as a professional. Experience at a successful startup can put your resume at the top of the pile.
· It is important to educate yourself about a startup company’s goals and practices prior to accepting a position. Uncubed.com offers free online classes on various topics related to working in these non-traditional environments. The classes are relatively short and come directly from leaders in the startup field. Look into these courses and use them to research the specifics of companies you’re interested in—know who and what to look for at interviews and in the workplace.
· Keep your resume updated and note any side projects. Have you developed a website for a friend’s business? Did you create an app for a class? Any personal projects through which you have gained skills that will be useful at a startup are important to note; they show creativity, enthusiasm, and dedication!
For more information on the startup industry, and resources for finding jobs at startups, check out Startup Companies:Information & Resources on the RIT Career Services site.
By Hayley Johnson, Graduate Intern, RIT Office of Career Services