Why you should consider working at a start-up, especially as a student
When you are looking for new job opportunities, do you usually check out large, global corporations first? That was what I did when I was looking for a relevant student job. I used to think that if I wanted to work at a place where I could develop my skills, I would have to work in a large company. That way, I could work my way up. However, this is no longer my rationale. A year ago, I got the opportunity to work at a Danish tech start-up called Queue-it, and it has certainly taught me a lot. I want to share four reasons about why I like to work in a tech start-up and why I think you should consider it, too.
- Fast learning & responsibility
When I started working at Queue-it, I became a part of a small team. At that time, the company consisted of very few people. Because of the nature of having such a small team, there was probably nobody else in the team who had the same skillset as I did. This meant that I was considered a valuable part of the company from day one. It also meant that from the very start I got a lot of responsibility in terms of the company’s visual identity and marketing material. This truly pushed me to be more adaptable and more productive compared to any other project I had undertaken before. Working in a small team also means that the work you do has impact and will be recognized instantly. On the other hand, it is also really easy to notice if you have screwed up. However, that is not always bad because it helps to keep you focused, as well as eliminate future mistakes.
The immediate responsibility might seem overwhelming, but that is the beauty of working in a small and strongly linked team, because you are sure that your team wants to help you in order for you to reach your common goal. I can honestly say that I learned more in the first couple of months working at Queue-it than I did in any business class at school. The rapid tempo that is evident in a start-up environment forces you to learn fast and adapt new skills. I think all of this means that I have more to offer as an individual, especially when the time comes to move on or maybe even start my own business.
Being in a start-up environment means that you work with people who have started their own business. In my experience, it means that they have a different mental and professional approach than those who have not had a start-up. The innovative nature of entrepreneurs enables them to think creatively in order to address problems, instead of being pulled back by them. It also makes them some of the best people to learn from. Additionally, it creates a more flexible company structure, where the entire team learns to work with what you have at your fingertips.
Personally, I experienced the flexible mind-set of Queue-it when I announced that I was going to study abroad in London for 6 months. I did not want to quite my job, but I assumed that that was what I had to do, because that was what my friends had done before they went abroad. But to my surprise my boss simply said, “Quit? You don’t have to quit. If you want, you can work from London; we’ll figure that out”. And that is how it is for now: I am based in London, but still work remotely as a part of the Queue-it team. It actually also opened up new opportunities for me, as it enabled me to participate in various tradeshows for Queue-it around the United Kingdom.
- An environment of innovation
What I have been taught at university is that innovation is a part of a creative process. I agree, but what they did not tell me is that innovation is more than creativity. At Queue-it, I have learned that it takes a whole lot more to turn your innovative ideas into a sustainable business – and even more to keep the business running. In a business context, innovation is an on-going process of actions and reactions in order to solve problems in new and improved ways. It is my assumption that a successful start-up has been built by true innovators, and that if you find the right ones, you will learn a lot.
Being a part of a start-up also links you to the local start-up community. This gives you plenty of opportunities to network with other people who, like you, are entrepreneurs or working in a start-up. In my opinion, Queue-it is very pro-active in terms of being connected with and strengthening the local start-up community. The fact that Queue-it took on this active role has really had an impact on me, and made me initiate a previously undefined network for women in tech start-ups, which I am currently working on with a group of young, cool female entrepreneurs (to be continued…).
- Being my own boss
As I mentioned in the beginning, I used to think that I would end up working in a large corporation of some sort – and that might happen at some point. However, working in a start-up quickly shows you that there are other options. You simply learn what it takes to be your own boss, and for me that has really cultivated the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. If you have toyed with the idea of starting your own venture, my advice would be for you to try to work at a start-up. In this way, you get to experience what makes up the everyday life in a start-up. I agree completely with the comparison of working in a start-up to a rollercoaster ride. Even though it has its ups and downs, I assure you, it’s a fun ride.