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Why Graduates should join Start-Ups

A neon sign reading go up and never stop

Leaving education is, undoubtedly, a significant milestone of adult life. With your own hands officially on the reigns, it is time to make decisions about what you want in life - and in your career.

This can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you aren’t following a vocational path. It is normal to feel anxious as to your next steps. There is no textbook approach towards an entry-level job in a start-up – and that’s exactly why you should be applying. As a graduate, you are unlikely to have much professional experience or working knowhow. Here are some ways in which working in a start-up is ideal if you are looking to quickly build your skills and business knowledge:

1. Adaptability

If you work in a start-up, you are forced to think on your feet and adapt to the demands of the business. Google has become my best friend, and every day involves learning how to do something I’ve never done before in order to meet those demands. My tasks have ranged from creating a new company process from scratch to setting up a laptop (without throwing it at the wall in frustration). I face new and unexpected challenges every day, and now start my working day excited to take these challenges on. Start-ups equip you with the diverse skill-set you need to adapt to the needs of a business, whatever they may be.

2. Quality vs Quantity

In a start-up, you are usually stretched for time. There tend to be fewer employees at hand to cover all business needs, so everyone has to get stuck in. You need to use your time wisely, ensuring tasks are prioritised effectively with an economic approach. Striving for perfection is counterproductive if the initial 20% of a task delivers 80% of its worth. Structuring your working day better to produce the greatest utility per unit of your time is a valuable skill you will have to learn. Graduates tend to aim for perfection and neglect efficient practices, which are important when your time is sparse. The start-up environment will teach you how to distinguish what is smart from what is perfect, and how to balance the two approaches.

3. Communication

Start-ups are busy. Employees work together to keep the plates spinning and, as a result, our remits are flexible. This makes good communication essential. People don’t have time to filter through paragraphs of information or to read between the lines. The right communication is vital for task management as well as relationships. As a graduate, knowing how and what to say can be difficult and communication can generally be intimidating – particularly when most of this is with more senior colleagues.Working in a start-up will force you to polish your communication skills, benefitting you inside work as well as outside (sibling tiffs included).

4. Confidence

The most daunting part of working in a start-up is the impact your work has; the smaller the company, the bigger the wave. This wave can have a big impact – good and bad. There is an inherent confidence which comes with acknowledging that, as a fresh-faced grad, you were hired because you are up to the challenge. Not many graduate schemes equip you with this level of responsibility – it’s a blessing in disguise. Because you will regularly be faced with new obstacles, you will obtain a unique insight into what you’re really capable of, which might just surprise you.

Starting a new job as a graduate is a plunge into the unknown. If this is at a start-up, you’re lucky enough to be plunging into some dark depths. This experience will teach how to adapt, prioritise and communicate effectively, and grow your confidence as a result.

It’s a big jump, but it’s one you won’t regret. I highly recommend it.