Would you recommend joining a start-up straight after uni?

Asked by Anonymous - 9 months ago

I'm studying History atm at UCL but graduating in 2020. I applied for investment banking internships last year but didn't manage to get one, so spent my summer working at a small-ish tech start-up (30 ppl). They've asked me to come back next year in a community management role. It was a fun place to be for a few months and I'm definitely interested in working in tech in the future, but not sure if I a graduate role in a start-up is the best entrance into the market. Any advice is much appreciated!!

1 Answer

Mags Chilaev - 9 months ago

Joining a start-up after uni is not a bad move especially if you're interested in going into tech (I think even more people will do this in future). Have you given up completely on investment banking though? Reason I ask is because joining a start-up after graduating is going to teach you a different set of skills / experience to what could help you reapply successfully for banking again in future. Anyway, if your mind is made up on that (and I think tech is definitely the more exciting option) I would say you should take the job with a few caveats. First of all, I think 'community management' is kind of a nonsense role and while it's good experience for a student, you should use your experience to get something in either product management or sales (or at least business development). Second of all, you should check that the company and team you're joining has some senior people you can learn from. Too often, start-ups will bring in a young student/intern and give them a bunch of admin stuff they don't have time to do themselves, which means you don't really learn any valuable skills. Thirdly, check how much funding the company you're joining has on crunchbase - you should look at not just how much money they've raised but also who the VCs backing it are. If the start-up has some really solid investors, you might be inclined to take more of your salary as shares vs. cash. If not, then you should more or less trade the shares you're offered for cash. Shares will typically take 3-4 years to be 'earned' so unless you're planning on staying there for a while, they're not that useful. But be careful rejecting shares outright because it probably signals that you're not intending to hang around, which means they might not invest as much in your training on the job. Finally, unlike most other places a start-up's internal structures are much less rigid, so the job is going to be what you make of it. If you discover a role that you enjoy doing / are excited by, you should do everything in your power to move into it. Also, my unsolicited advice to Chechens interested in working in tech are to go into either 1) software engineering or 2) sales. I can cover the reasons why in another question!

3 points

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