Finding the perfect work environment has always been difficult, but studies show young people are job-hopping more than ever. The average worker stays at a job for 4.4 years, but 91% of millennials said they planned to stay at their current job for fewer than 3 years. One of the reasons for this is that millennials are more ambitiously seeking work environments that make them feel comfortable, appreciated, and fulfilled, and that can mean striking out a few times.
The increasingly popular “start-up culture” has been romanticized in movies and TV shows, but much like any other job, a start-up environment is not for everyone. These fast-paced techy workspaces see more turnover than the normal business, so it’s worth considering whether or not a start-up is truly the right environment for you.
I accumulated this list based on my experiences as well as the experiences of my friends, colleagues
1.) You have a variety of
skills, or can pretend that you do
Most start-ups are small, employing just 40 employees or fewer. This means that you will never have the delight of performing “just one small job that makes a big difference!” like a
2.) You aren’t too picky about what work you will be doing
Going off my previous point— don’t insist on (or expect to be) doing exactly what your job description stated. The needs of the company will change and expand rapidly, so you need to be flexible and patient.
3.) You are hard-working, even in distracting environments
Most start-up spaces have “open floorplans,” with no walls or offices separating workers from the voices and noises around them. Several employees may share a single desk, and co-workers may be cooking, eating, and having phone calls or meetings nearby. Distractions abound! Unless you can find a way to be productive in these situations, you won’t find much success working at a start-up.
4.) You are ready to dive into projects and tasks sans formal training
If you want 6 weeks of formal training from seasoned professionals before your first day, working at a start-up is not for you. Formal training is a luxury afforded by companies like Google and Microsoft, not companies where every employee could fit comfortably on one school bus. Part of the fun of a start-up is learning as you go, so be prepared to work without help and do some self-guided training (aka, G
5.) You enjoy becoming close with your coworkers
When you work with the same 10 people every day, you are bound to become friends with them. While not all start-ups are like this, many feature strong bonds between coworkers and foster life-long friendships. However, this leads me to a very important point…
6.) You are a good teammate
Start-ups are a team sport. There is no getting around it— if you can’t work well on a team, this is not the place for you. Be real with yourself. Are you really a good teammate? Do you interrupt people, get annoyed when others don’t love your
7.) You can handle big changes and big mistakes
One of the great things about working for a start-up is that no two days are the same. However, not everyone would enjoy this environment. Change is inevitable and often disruptive and unforeseeable. Constant dramatic changes could mean making some embarrassing or frustrating mistakes. Be ready to be kind to yourself and your fellow coworkers when setbacks happen. Start-up work isn’t easy!
8.) When it’s over, you will be okay leaving it all behind
With the revolving door at start-ups spinning faster than ever, you might find yourself leaving after just a short time. This may mean moving cities or even countries, and saying goodbye to your newfound family of coworkers. This is a natural part of company growth and change, and hopefully you will leave with buckets of new skills and friends. Be sure to take time to appreciate how special it is to be a part of a company in its infancy. Then, when it’s time to go, you will be able to say that you didn’t take such outstanding opportunities (and people!) for granted.