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Why work at Startups?


I recently read an insightful thread about how Midjourney scaled with an 11-person team that started primarily as an independent research lab in just a couple of years and wanted to share some of my experience working at startups and why I think you should most definitely consider it to accelerate your career.

Not adding what I think about the ethics behind what Midjourney uses as their training data as that isn't the point of why I'm sharing this.

The thread outlines many reasons why I chose to join startups when I started in tech. Startups provide an unparalleled opportunity to gain exposure to various aspects of building a product, allowing for fast iteration within a small and agile team and the endless opportunities to learn and experiment. You get full autonomy to bring on team members with varying and diverse backgrounds. This is often overlooked as the real power of what it takes to build an innovative and disruptive product.

I truly see this as the way forward with future products - the bootstrapped tenacious underdogs taking on the big slow conglomerate machines. If you're starting out and in the job market, I implore you to not only see MAANGs or upper-tier organizations as your North Star. I was interviewing with MAANGs but I couldn't be bothered with their lengthy interviewing processes, stifling bureaucracies, and red tape, so I dropped out from some of them. I attribute all my learnings to when I was in a scrappy 9-person startup where we had a fairly big market share and took on the bigger players

Not saying whether joining a big organization or startup is more effective for career growth as it ultimately comes down to your goals and what you want to achieve.

What I believe are top skills and base fundamentals to have that should come before any technical skills in order to succeed in tech:

  • Adaptability
  • Capacity for growth
  • Attitude towards making mistakes and learning from them
  • Fearlessness in stepping out of your comfort zone
  • Aptitude in taking on initiatives or learnings
  • Perseverance

Also keep in mind, startups aren't necessarily synonymous with zero work-life balance, filled with young tech bros, or the need to sacrifice your time for stock options, etc. Startups that operate that way might be able to move and ship fast but won't be sustainable in the long run and cannot compete with the ones that are prioritizing wellness and culture. On the other hand, working in a big organization does not mean sitting on cushy fat paychecks and benefits, especially in the current volatile market. The key is to align your career and future goals with the culture and objectives of the company and I swear you will always win! I'm currently working on a step by step guide on how to break into the tech industry, so stay tuned!