Five questions every fresher must ask before joining a startup


As the startup ecosystem goes on a hiring spree, it is very natural for job applicants to be riddled with doubts over taking the leap of faith. Going against the high tide (read well-secured MNC job) to swim in the uncharted waters of a bootstrapped startup can be a daunting experience. While considering a career in a startup, you need to switch into introspection mode. See if the startup job holds good for your overall personal growth and future prospects.

Ideal situations to take up a startup job are if you want to eventually startup on your own and want some hands-on experience, or if you seek the adrenaline rush that startups offer, or if you simply love taking up multiple tasks. But before jumping on the startup bandwagon, you need to consider these factors which will help you decide if a startup job is the best bet for you.

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Are you passionate about the startup offering?

“Find your passion, and it’s no longer work.” – LA Reid, Co-founder of LAFACE Records

If you’re passionate about the role that a startup offers then your desire to perform will supersede the tag of the so-called job. A perfect platform to hone your skills, a startup ecosystem will help cultivate your passion towards the desired field. With no restrictions on experimentation and opportunities aplenty, you can allow your passion to run wild and nurture it with hands-on experience. But all of this only works for highly passionate and self-sustaining individuals, as the culture is high on rigour and would demand you put in countless hours and days. So do check if your passion for the profile is in tandem with what the company demands.

Does the job role match your expectation?

A key factor to consider while signing on the dotted line – the role must be in sync with your future career goals. While hiring freshers, companies do try to take advantage of their cluelessness and naivete of the professional world. So ask questions and clarify every aspect of the job designation, since you need to ensure that the role suits your ambitions and becomes a core cog of your dream ahead.

Will it be a mutually beneficial offer?

What you offer to your employer must be repaid or returned in equal measure. That is, if you are investing your time, talent, and effort into the company, the startup must also acknowledge and appraise your work and allow you to grow accordingly. It has to be a mutually beneficial give-and-take relationship. Hence, take time, and research the startup’s history, Glassdoor reviews, references by past and present employees, etc. Since joining a startup is nosediving into uncertainty, you can cushion your fall with research on what you stand to gain and lose. Figure out the balance for yourself and aim to figure out what investment you’re making versus the investment the startup is willing to make towards you.

How different is the scope of operation and where do you fit in?

For a startup to bear fruit in terms of skill development, you need to make sure that the projects assigned are miles ahead of what a corporate setup has to offer. If you’re going to be working on areas that you like and with clients that add a lot to your resume, then you’re in a good spot. If the startup doesn’t allow you the freedom to pursue the field of your choice, then you know that mundanity will hit much sooner than later.

What’s your long-term plan?

Is your eye on the senior manager role at the startup? Are you here for the vital experience and then moving on to greener pastures? The exit is something you need to be thinking about actively, as it’s the step that will empower you when things get tough. You must think about how the role, the work, the passion, and the investment coalesce into forming the “final exit”. If your exit plan is five years from now, then thinking about gaining more experience and handling more projects is a good idea. If your exit is a sum of money at the end of the journey, then you should try to aim for more equity early on, then for bonuses. You can effectively negotiate your compensation and role based on your exit plan.

Take these questions into account while formulating your overall career approach. Once your mind’s made up and your goals aligned, go full-steam ahead in your new startup role. Know this: it is very rare to find a job or industry that is tailor-made to suit your needs. You have to sow the effort to reap the benefits. This holds universally true for every field and industry, no matter the scale.


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