After reading these blog posts on why new graduates should or shouldn’t join a startup, I feel I should give my insights based on my past experiences as well as on my experience at Miso. First of all, let’s put that statement in context, as I have only just started my career and I’m not yet graduated. However, I’ve already worked for more than 1 year (full time and part time) at Société Générale as Tech Op, which is one of the biggest banks in Europe, and all of my past internships have been in startups…
After coming across why we shouldn’t join a startup blog posts, there are 2 points I would agree with him on:
- Startups are not for everyone, especially tech startups, everyone isn’t a “geek”, neither excited by new features on Twitter, that’s a fact.
- Both posts quoted Steve Blank: “It’s your curiosity and enthusiasm that will get you noticed and make your life interesting.” It’s kind of obvious, you will enjoy your work if you’re passionate about it.
However, I disagree with most of his other ideas…
1. Passion is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Yes, in both startups and corporations you can work with passion, the main difference between these two is that in a startup, you are sure to work with people who enjoy what they’re doing, and that’s not always the case in my past experiences in corporations.
His main argument is that in large corporations, employees “can afford to have highly specialized jobs filled by people who only focus on one particular component”. Ok I can understand that, but to me being close in his skill area, it’s to me like communitarianism because you can’t learn and you can’t expand in your field. At Miso even if my official position is Rails Developer, sometimes I had to sketch out some design for new features. Basically my point is yes, in startups you have to assume many roles, but it’s necessary, it teaches you to think globally and not be focused on only your code.
Have a big companies name on your resume always gives you some credibility, that’s true, but I would rather have an unknown startup on my resume which had failed and be able to explain why it had failed, and on the other hand if you have worked for a successful startup, being part of the small team looks significantly more impressive.
3. “Startup years are like dog years”
It’s been already 2 months I’ve been working at Miso and I feel like it was a year. It’s an intense internship, I learn so much things not only in ruby, in product side, and in community management… I’m not claiming I’ll be a guru of these domains at the end, but’s it’s definitely improving my culture and above all helping me to understand why I’m coding these new features.
4. More Money
If your first motivation is making money, don’t work for a startup… I turned down a better offer in terms of salary, to accept the Miso one because I feel it was and is the right place to learn. I don’t know if Miso will be the next big hit in the valley but anyway, I don’t care if we fail, again the most important thing it’s to understand why you failed.
“If you make meaning, you’ll probably make money”- Guy Kawasaki. I really believe this quote can be applied as employee not only in a company context, I really need to know why I’m doing this feature, for which purpose. At Miso, the purpose is simple; we want to “Make TV more fun, change the way how people are watching TV”. During my time at Société Générale, I didn’t even know what the company actually did. I worked in a subsidiary called Société Générale Securities Services and to this day, I still don’t know what it’s doing. The worst part was not one of my colleagues was able to explain it to me either. The only thing that mattered was to keep the servers running, beyond that I never was encouraged to understand the larger picture.
It seems in a corporation you can build a network of “hundreds or thousands of coworkers”. If it’s the case, it’s a bit curious to build this network only within the company. I believe in openness and at Miso, the engineering team tries to be close to San Francisco Ruby Community. We attend meetups, hosting ruby workshop and generally try to be involved. There are 2 goals behind this, promoting what we’re doing and also promoting ruby. Most of all it’s about sharing and improving our culture. You could learn for example what’s the best practices in hot new startups just by making a connection. This gives you some insight on what you’re doing. It’s a win-win situation to be involved outside of the narrow focus of your company.
Relationships in startups with your colleagues are not the same as in a corporation. The day-to-day interactions drive more than a simple colleague relationship. I’m not saying your colleague will become your best friends, but I definitely know I will stay in touch with my Miso colleagues after my adventure here. And I still hang out with my lovely pariSoma friends as well.
To conclude, for these reasons I definitely know that I don’t want to work for corporations. On the other hand some people needs a “safe” work because their situation requires it, I can understand that too. But that doesn’t mean startups can’t work with “corporations”, we need them and they need us. We work with many larger organizations here such as Fox, Logo, Showtime, etc. The most important thing I believe is that working for a fast paced startup is worth trying because you will rapidly grow your experience and learn about things that you never expected.