Is a Start-up Job For Me?

Connie Evans

Here at TalentPool, we’re the biggest advocates for the amazing job opportunities that start-ups can provide for graduates. However, we do understand that many of you might be put off of applying for roles thanks to the (often untrue) things you've heard people say about working for a start-up.

In this article, we’re going to help debunk some of these myths and explain what it’s really like to work at a start-up, so you’re able to decide whether it is an environment and style of working that may be compatible with you and your plans for the future.

The pay is low

We’ll start off with one of the most common misconceptions: low pay. As a result of start-ups being relatively young companies that are not yet fully established in their sectors, many people believe that those who work for them are paid very little because there isn’t enough money being made to pay team members adequately. However, this is most definitely not the case for most start-ups. Although there may be fewer employees in comparison to bigger companies, the staff still play just as important roles in the running of the business and receive fair salaries as a result. In fact, often, for those who are first starting out, there is actually a greater chance of better pay at a start-up. Interns are far more likely to be paid when working at a start-up as opposed to taking a job at a more corporate organisation because start-up founders tend to be more in tune with the difficulties of starting out in the world of work and trying to gain experience and establish a good skill set! If you're interested in finding an internship at a start-up or SME check out our blog post for more information!

Everyone is young and inexperienced

We hear all too often that working at a start-up isn’t meaningful and is only about having fun. Arguably, start-ups are becoming increasingly renowned for quirky company cultures and lax dress codes, however, this doesn’t translate into a poor work ethic and inexperienced employees. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Due to the fact that start-ups are made up of far smaller teams each individual’s role is far more crucial to the running of the company and there is no opportunity to slack without it going unnoticed. This also translates into employees gaining experience and making progress at a much faster pace in comparison to those undertaking similar roles in larger companies.

You won’t receive guidance or training

Many argue that because start-ups rarely provide organised development schemes for graduates or new employees, they have limited resources and do not supply their staff with proper guidance and support when they’re first starting out. However, just because there are no specific and detailed development programmes this doesn’t mean that you’ll be left to figure everything out on your own. Start-ups are far more likely to implement traditional buddy schemes where a more experienced or senior employee will be on hand to help out newer team members with any queries or difficulties. It also helps that many start-up offices are often open plan or the team all sit in one room together, therefore you’re surrounded by individuals who all have various different skill sets and areas of expertise who will probably be more than willing to help you out should you be struggling with anything.

You’ll work ridiculously long hours

Many seem to believe that if you work at a start-up your days will be chaotic and unstructured. There’s the assumption that you’ll automatically be flung into around the clock job and will end up sleeping under your desk! We can assure you, this is definitely not the case! Most start-ups have normal working hours just like any other company. If anything, start-ups and smaller companies tend to have far more flexible working hours which allow you to get the most out of your day. In fact, some, like Normally, have reduced working weeks and others such as Airsorted allow you to choose where you work from depending on what works best for you, whether that be working from a coffee shop, from home or from a conventional desk.

Your job is uncertain because the company could collapse at any minute

This is a valid concern for many and the basis for it is understandable. However, you’re no more likely to lose your job as a result of financial difficulties at a start-up than you are at a corporate company. As a graduate, you’re likely to be at the bottom of the pecking order no matter where you find your first job. This, unfortunately, means that if a bigger business is looking to make cuts in order to save money, or invest their money slightly differently from one year to the next, you’re likely to be the first to go. Ultimately, the only way to ensure that you’re not at risk of losing your job is to work hard, be consistent and prove yourself to be a valuable resource, it has very little to do with the financial stability of a company.

Ultimately, there is a great deal of speculation when it comes to working at start-ups and SMEs, however, for the most part, speculation is all it is! Start-ups and SMEs offer a very different style of working when compared to larger, corporate businesses, they often allow you to take on greater levels of responsibility far more quickly and provide you with a strong sense of purpose as your work contributes directly to the success of the company. Arguably, a job at a start-up or SME is definitely not for everyone but if you think it sounds like something you would be well suited to sign up to TalentPool today to find a start-up role that's perfect for you! If you still need more convincing take a read of our Handbook article on the benefits of working at a start-up or SME.