Startups are all the rave with millennials who are embarking on their first “real” jobs fresh out of school. Many perks attract young professionals who are transitioning from “school life” to “work life” such as rumors of beer taps in the office and table tennis scrum meetings. However, the startup life is much more than just fun and games, as I soon found out upon getting hired at my current workplace, HackHub.
About our Company
HackHub is a tech startup headquartered in downtown Vancouver; the company has developed a recruiting platform that connects emerging talents with great career opportunities through stimulating hackathon events. HackHub has also recently created a hackathon hosting platform to easily organize and plan these events. Let me tell you, startups can be daunting and a little too fast-paced sometimes but don’t let that throw you off. It’s for that reason I love working here. There is a huge difference between working for a startup company and a giant corporation in pretty much every aspect.
You are your Own Manager
First major difference is the shift in responsibility. You act as your own manager, there isn’t enough people in the company to be guiding and managing your every move. As for me, I deal with pretty much all of the English marketing for the company. I will collaborate with our team designer and leave big decisions to my supervisor, but for the most part I’m on my own.
Bigger companies may allow some training for new employees to warm up to the company but in a startup you’ll be thrown into the front lines straight off the bat. This can be a good thing or a bad thing and in my case I’m quite lucky. My managers trust my judgement and the alleviation of “training wheels” allows me the freedom to do things my way and test the waters how I see fit. I definitely love this rather than following orders at every step, but there are definitely consequences to making wrong moves.
What you do Makes a Huge Difference
Due to the shift in management, every step you take can make or break the company. Startups, and pretty much all companies in general, do not start out big — in fact they have to struggle the first couple years even before making a single cent of profit. It’s these first few years that lay the crucial foundation of the company, which leads to the business soaring or sinking.
That’s why every small action done within this time frame can literally make or break the company. Unless you’re on the verge of death, you have to think twice before taking a sick day. If you’re like me, you could be the only person in your department and not being there could delay the release of projects and communications content. Some people don’t like this pressure; as for me, I love it — it gives me a sense of urgency and boosts my sense of creativity and innovation.
You are NOT your Job Title
Another thing about startups is that you cannot hide behind your position. Your job title on paper may say one thing but you’re basically dipping your hands in every department and operation in the company. There is no rigidity in the roles at our startup — you can see our CEO hauling boxes and marketing specialists (me) conducting volunteer interviews (on my second day).
The great thing about this is you go way beyond what you signed up to do and learn so much more. Some people won’t like this (“this wasn’t in the job description”) — this kind of attitude won’t work well in a startup, you have to be willing to do a bit of everything. Being in a smaller company you are also definitely more involved with every operation and have a better general understanding of the company’s direction. As part of the marketing team at my previous corporate job, I was generally unaware what else happened beyond our department.
Speaking of smaller companies, there’s definitely a more intimate vibe when you work for a company this size in comparison to a huge corporate one. At HackHub we typically have ten people come each day sitting around one long table working side by side. Instead of being stationed in our own cubicles, it feels like a high school lunch table where we toss and throw jokes across the room.
There is definitely a more family vibe going on, and we take breaks to celebrate birthdays and order bubble tea after closing major deals. This is the great thing about startups — it feels like you’re working with your friends. This could be a bad thing if you don’t like your co-workers but I’m extremely fortunate to be able to say that I do. Mondays don’t seem so bad when you work with a kick-ass team.