3 Questions that Freshers looking for a Startup job should ask themselves

3 Questions that Freshers looking for a Startup job should ask themselves

Wednesday June 05, 2013,

5 min Read


A few weeks ago, Shrinath V wrote an excellent piece on 5 tips to get you jobs as a fresher. Let’s be honest. Times are tough and good jobs are extremely difficult to come by. Regardless of what their PR releases may say, even the country’s top educational institutes are struggling to place all their students. In such an environment where it’s not about pursuing your dream job but to get any job at all, many freshers are rushing to startups.

But is a startup job right for you? Here are some things to consider and ask yourself:

Why do I want to work for a startup?

If the only reason you are considering a startup is because you didn’t get a job anywhere else, think again. I know it’s easy for me to preach and only someone who has graduated without a job in hand will truly understand what you are going through. Whether your education was funded by your parents or you took an education loan, there would definitely be huge pressure to start earning. You must be getting frustrated with rejections or worse still, companies that never even got back to you. It must take effort to politely respond to someone who asks you about placements when every instinct is telling you to lash back with - “You think I wouldn’t be celebrating right now if I’d got a job, you moron!”

That said, rushing into a startup job just because you didn’t get anything else is likely to just add to your frustration. There is a certain passion and conviction that you need for working at a startup. If the people interviewing you don’t see it (and trust me, they can), it will just mean more rejections and more frustration. According to YourStory research from the Awesome Startup Workplaces Awards, the top 3 reasons that freshers join startups are Nature of Work/ Job Profile, Growth Opportunities and Opportunity to Create Something New. Ask yourself – are these your reasons for joining a startup as well?

What kind of startup do I want to work for?

Startup is a fairly generic term. It spans from the proverbial founding team working out of a garage to a company that has received 2-3 rounds of VC funding and is now looking to raise an IPO. Let’s quickly understand some of the characteristics of startups in various stages and see which of these work best for you.

 Early StageSeed StageSeries ASeries B - Pre IPO
Key FeaturesBootstrapped (funds from self, friends & family)Team size: <5 Focus on building product/ solutionFunding received from Angel investorTeam size: <10 Focus on testing product/ solution in target market and iterating1st round of funding received from a VCTeam size:~20-50 people Focus on growing the businessMultiple rounds of VC fundingTeam size: Typically >100 Focus on growing revenue and profitability
Risks/ DisadvantagesNo validation of business ideaMinimal or no salary Need to ‘slog your butt off’ Though you are part of the founding team, you are not the founder – would you rather try starting up yourself?Still very early to know if the business will succeedLow salary Will need to slogStill a high risk proposition; <20% of series A companies succeedSome amount of structure so learning may get restricted to your area Unlikely that you will make the inner circleAs a fresher, you will typically be hired for very specific tasks; learning may be much less than earlier stagesGrowth opportunities may also be much lesser
BenefitsAs a fresher, you will get to do almost everything possibleHuge growth opportunities Be part of the inner circle that will really reap the rewards of successSome validation of the business idea from an experienced investorBest learning experience as a fresher; will get to do a lot of different things and will have some guidance Major growth opportunitiesSupport from VC firm will ensure that the company’s chances of success are increasedSalary will typically be complemented with ESOPs, increasing your earning potentialCompany would have developed some brand – good cv value!Salary would be typically at market levels (in some cases, even higher) Growth opportunities will definitely be better than an established corporate
Getting thereStartups like this don’t go out to hire; join a friend/ acquaintance starting upJobs come through referrals from friends & family. As a fresher, you must have some unique value that you bring to the tableReferrals are still the best route but they also participate in job fairs and post jobs on various forums.They may even come to your campus to recruit


Why should the startup hire me?

Startups, even in their final stage of growth, do not hire freshers in large numbers. On the other hand, the number of freshers applying to each startup is huge. Hence, you must be absolutely sure of what value you bring to the table and need to clearly elucidate this. And it’s not just about what value you think you bring but about whether the startup really needs that!

Also remember that your word is not enough; you need to prove it. So if you think that you have great coding skills, prove it with results at a hackathon or coding assessment. If you have great design capability, carry evidence of it in the form of a portfolio. If you’ve got expertise in a particular area, showcase it through projects that you have done.

My aim is not to dissuade freshers from applying to startups. Quite on the contrary, I sincerely believe that a startup is a great platform to begin your career. All I am saying is that you need to be completely sure about wanting to work for a startup, you need to understand what kind of startup you want to work for and that if you are applying for a startup, have a compelling case for them to hire you!

Visit the YourStory Jobs Board to check out exciting startup career opportunities or post your jobs free on India’s largest startup jobs forum