Main DigitalTop 5 Takeaways from Working at a Tech Startup
What’s it like working at a tech startup?
For some, the word ‘startup’ itself creates wariness. Often people hear the word startup and immediately think about the risks associated with working for a small company. But the answer is that it’s relative—every company has risks, and a startup’s risk is one worth taking.
Overall, it can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. Should you work at a startup? The only way to know if a startup is right for you is to take the leap and join one, and we can use our experience to help make that leap an informed one.
Let’s meet someone who believed in our startup from the get-go: Greg Jones, the Talent Acquisition Lead at Main Digital.
Greg started with Main Digital in June 2019 as the first full-time employee. We interviewed him about his experience here to see what exactly drew him to work at a fast-growing tech startup.
When asked why he made the shift to the startup world, he said, “After almost four years in the staffing industry, I decided I wanted to shift into consulting. I wanted an opportunity to recruit and staff positions on internal teams with the organization that I was working for.”
Greg has a solid background in staffing and recruiting, which began in 2012 when he joined a startup IT staffing firm out of college. This is where he learned the business of staffing while also gaining an appreciation for working at a startup. For Greg, joining Main Digital was the best of both worlds: the chance to be the in-house staffing leader and help grow a startup again. Greg’s point about leadership leads us to the first aspect of working at a startup:
#1: A startup is a great way to take on a leadership role and own your work.
“I wanted to get back to working with a smaller organization that would give me the opportunity to take on a leadership role and have a direct impact on the growth of a business.”
Sure, a startup can be a smaller organization than some other companies. At a startup, however, small can translate to more opportunities for employees.
“Joining Main Digital gave me the opportunity to take on more of a leadership role in shaping the overall talent acquisition, management, and retention functions for the company. What made the opportunity even more unique was that I would also be working closely with the company’s CEO. I welcomed the additional responsibility and was excited about how much I could learn.”
Working at a startup does come with more responsibility—there are fewer people to share the load. But the reward is more ownership over your work.
#2: Your coworkers will be just as passionate and energetic about their jobs as you are.
The passion of Main Digital’s CEO and Founder, Sanam Boroumand, was one of the things that impressed Greg right off the bat. “Right after applying, Sanam had reached out to set up a time for us to speak. We discussed the role, her vision for the business, and how I could make an impact in the company. I walked away feeling incredibly motivated. Her passion was something that made a lasting impression on me. After our very first interaction, I knew she was someone I wanted to work with and learn from.”
Startups work when dynamic and spirited founder(s) imbue their passion into the organization, and promising startup leaders are great at crafting an environment to cultivate the passions of the people working there. The people make a startup great!
“What I have learned is that if you are surrounded by the right people, you believe in the company mission, and you are willing to put in the work, then good things will follow.”
#3: You will work very hard, but your work will leave you feeling highly gratified.
Working at a startup can be time–consuming but immensely gratifying, and because of this, you will find yourself willing to put in extra time and effort toward day-to-day work.
Greg says: “Each day is unique and different, which will eliminate feeling complacent. You will be excited to start each week and tackle the challenges ahead. Do not be afraid to take a step back ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed. The beauty of working in a startup is that everyone is on the same team, and they are willing to step in and support the common goal.”
#4: The entrepreneurial environment of a startup will welcome different viewpoints and perspectives. Listen and learn.
Greg says: “At a startup, you are experiencing firsthand what it takes to build a company from the ground up. You are gaining critical skills and experience that you might not even be aware of in the moment.” A startup flourishes because of its people, who will reap the rewards as the company grows. Just take Main Digital as an example. “Our people remain the most important aspect of our business. We have not forgotten where we started and how we got to where we are. We promote from within with an emphasis on building a fun and exciting culture around our values. We continue to encourage our employees to hold on to their entrepreneurial spirit.”
#5: Startups don’t stay startups forever—enjoy the startup status while it lasts.
Greg’s last piece of advice “Startups are unique because they do not remain startups for very long. Have fun, live in the moment, and enjoy the ride.”
Greg recounted the progress he’s seen happen as the result of working at a healthy startup: “At this point, we have generated a strong presence in the market with both clients and candidates. We have grown and continue to grow fast. We have expanded beyond the Washington DC market and into new territories across the mid-Atlantic region of the US. We are a company that makes an impact in everything that we do for the better. Main Digital will soon evolve past its ‘startup’ phase, and in the future, I see Main Digital being a highly competitive and sought-after organization to work for and work with.”
Going back to our original question: Should you work at a startup?
Greg summarized his experience with five reasons why you should:
- You are brought in to wear various hats and gain perspective outside of your specialized expertise, which will help you continue learning and expand your skillset.
- You will have a hand in helping shape the culture of the company.
- You are often compelled to take on more responsibility sooner which contributes to faster individual career growth.
- You will not have to worry about being caught up in the corporate bureaucracy of a large company.
- You will have direct access and the ability to work in collaboration with the executive team.
About Main Digital
Main Digital is a consulting firm specializing in business process transformation and secure intelligent technology implementation. Through intelligent technologies, Main Digital focuses on building a future with clients where people do the things they are best at and technology handles the mundane and simple tasks for them. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.