Job hunting right after college tends to be a challenging and stressful process. It is important to approach it with an open mind and explore the wide variety of career options available to you. Although, you might have an idea about the field or even the company you want to work for, sometimes unexpected opportunities can be a path to accelerated growth and career development.
When I graduated from The London School of Economics (LSE), I thought I wanted to work for a big consulting firm because of the opportunity to travel and develop a diverse set of skills through placements on different projects. My understanding was that only a big firm can provide me with exposure to interesting work and mentorship. However, my experience at Spraoi has made me realize that startups are the best catalyst for professional growth. The type of work I have been given from day one has been engaging, varied and always based on my interests.
So you might ask: What makes startups so special? How are they different from big companies?
Startups, especially in the tech industry, are more prevalent than ever before, and some of the most important perks of working at one are the dynamic work environment, flat structure and greater responsibilities with which you are entrusted from the start.
Big companies tend to be more rigid in their operations and not receptive to new ideas or new approaches to the work process. Especially as an entry level employee your opinion may not be solicited or valued. Successful startups, however, recognize that a new hire, even one with little professional experience, can bring a fresh perspective that is a huge asset to an organization. New and smaller companies are not burdened with excessive bureaucracy and standardized approaches to problem solving. They can afford to be agile and empower their employees regardless of their background or experience.
Along with agility, startups also tend to have a flat structure, which means open communication between employees and the leadership. I personally have had the opportunity to receive mentorship directly from Spraoi’s founders and learn from their experience in the tech and insurance industries. In contrast, big organizations are hierarchical, which makes communication with the leadership virtually impossible and renders your professional growth subject to company politics and a defined career development path. This means that in startups your strengths can be spotted by leadership more easily, and you will receive the support necessary to move forward in your career development faster.
This brings me to the third biggest advantage of working for a startup – being entrusted with important responsibilities from the very start. Due to their smaller size, startups tend to utilize their resources, including their human capital, in the best and most efficient way possible. One of my first experiences with the company was to sit through an important client meeting and capture action items. In a big corporation it is very unlikely that you will be placed in a room full of executive level people in your first few weeks on the job. Since I started at Spraoi, six months ago, I have been tasked with managing relations with a partner company and currently help manage an important project for one of our client accounts. The kind of exposure I have received working for a startup cannot be matched even by the big 4 consulting firms, certainly not at the same pace.
In my experience, the fastest way to grow and succeed is to constantly step outside of your comfort zone. Spraoi provides me with that opportunity on a daily basis, which has been truly rewarding.