Starting At A Start-Up: What I Learned Working At A Start-Up As A Fresher

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6 min read

What does a fresher hope to get out of their first job? A work environment that makes allowances for them to learn on the job. To figure out if they’re entering a career that’s right for them. To figure their own skills, capabilities, and ambitions. I got all that and some at my first job as a fresher at a start-up.

There is an element of instability that is associated with start-ups that makes working with them seem risky. If you’ve graduated recently, you may be feeling conflicted about whether you should begin your career at a corporate or a start-up. It’s common to be feeling the pressure to join a more ‘conventional’ corporate company. You might have heard some people emphasise that start-ups have higher risks while others claim it’s a good place for younger professionals to learn.

Before you take the leap to join a start-up﹘or dismiss it entirely – here are some of the learnings I’ve had during my time at a start-up to help you make the right choice.

You Get The Chance To Work On Various Roles

Fresh off the graduation boat, I got hired by a start-up for the role of a content writer. From writing short news articles to film reviews to in-depth research pieces, I got the opportunity to indulge in it all as a writer. In a month, I was also working on scripts for videos. In another month, I was in front of the camera (something I never thought I would be confident enough to do). Today, I’m also the company’s social media manager.

Working at a start-up, it is inevitable that you’ll perform more roles that you may have signed up for. As a fresher, this is an opportunity you’ll rarely get in corporate organisations.

In my first job itself, I was able to explore a majority of the fields I’m interested in, upskill in them, and learn to take ownership of tasks.

Not only will the varied experience be an asset on your resume, but it will also give you clarity on what roles suit you best and help you define your career goals better.

The Environment Makes The Transition From College To Work Life Easier

Most start-ups come with a more informal environment, with more freedom in the dress code, how you work, and how you express yourself.

The idea of entering “the real world” was something that always felt intimidating to me after college. Working at a start-up, however, allowed for a more gentle entry into this world.

Instead of being thrust into the world of professional rules, dress codes, and formalities, start-ups provide an ideal transitionary environment between your life as a student and the world of work. They allow you to dip your toes into the life of a working professional without the rigidity with which corporates expect you to be one.

You Can Take On Managerial Roles Earlier On In Your Career

There aren’t as many barriers and hierarchical boundaries in start-ups to prevent you from trying your hand at various roles. Only in a start-up can a fresher engage in roles that require some management and leadership.

I never believed I would be capable of taking ownership of and managing a company’s social media in the first year of my career journey. It came with a lot of responsibilities and visibility ﹘ something that I probably wouldn’t have gotten this early on in a corporate company.

You Get Used To Constant Change And How To Deal With It

Be it changes in company goals, expectations, team structure, or team members, a start-up is always going through change.

It can be a little disarming to be in an environment that requires constant agility and adaptability in how you work, who you work with, and what you work towards, but the experience prepares you for dynamic environments in the future.

Start-Ups Provide An Especially Conducive Environment To Creative Professionals 

Start-ups tend to have an environment that allows for greater freedom in expressing oneself, no matter where you are in the hierarchy. If you’re in the creative field, start-ups can provide a less restrictive environment for creative and collaborative work than most other corporations. 

Creative professionals often have to deal with a lot of fluctuating deadlines and  longer work hours as well. It’s easier to do this in a start-up because you’re always learning something and doing something new. You’re also more likely to be around people who are in the same boat as you. 

Working at a start-up as a creative professional will give you a taste of what it is to work in the creative industry and ease you into being able to hold your own as a creative professional.

The Cons Of Working In A Start-Up Are Real – But Dealing With Them When You’re A Fresher Is Easier

The disadvantages of working at a start-up are all real. It can be difficult to work in a company that is undergoing constant learning and change along with you. Working in multiple roles can mean compromising on your work-life balance. Hours can be longer. Job security and salaries can be lower. If there is ever a time to deal with these cons, however, it’s in the beginning of your career, when learning and growth is more likely to take the front seat.

At the end of the day, the objective pros and cons of working at a start-up vs a corporate company are clear. What makes them pros and cons for you are your personal goals, expectations, and preferences.

Do you prefer working in a structured environment? Is the freedom to express yourself without being restricted by your designation important to you?

What may be a varied learning opportunity for one person may seem confusing to another. What is an informal work environment for one person may seem unstructured and chaotic to another.

Go into the experience of working at a start-up knowing what your expectations and preferences are. If you’re uncertain about these things like I was when I started my career, I’ve realised that figuring them out at start-up is much easier than trying to figure them out in a corporate role.

Whether you decide to join a start-up or not, I hope this article helps you feel more prepared and ready to kick start the career of your choice. 

You’re invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.

Sanjana writes far too little to call herself a writer and reads far too much pop-culture fiction to call herself a reader. She once received a Special Mention for the Best Young Critic Award by MAMI, and refuses to stop talking about it. Her love for films, art, and theatre runs deep and is only borderline pretentious. She detests writing in third person but can be convinced to engage in it occasionally.

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