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Why Working at a Startup Is the Best (and the Worst)

Topics: Career Advice

Even post-dot com bubble burst, there are lots of startup opportunities in almost every industry imaginable. You don’t have to live in Silicon Valley to work at one, either. A startup can be any young company just making the leap from one-(wo)man show to …. more than one. But while the highs can be pretty high, the lows can be pretty low. Here’s what to keep in mind, if you’re thinking about working for a startup company.

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Yes, You Can Make a Lot of Money … But at a Cost

Lots of times, startups use big paychecks to lure talent away from their corporate gigs to the relative insecure startup world. Salaries are often used as a major incentive for leaving all you know behind and taking a leap of faith. But, with that salary comes some risk and an expectation of producing results. You might be able to coast on talent at a more standard and stable corporate environment, but in the startup world, where you have to keep feeding the growth with results, you’ll be scrutinized and often asked to meet sales or investment goals if you want to stick around. (Want to know if your current pay adds up? Take PayScale’s Salary Survey.)

Perks Can Be Amazing, Too … Since You’ll Be Working a Lot

Foosball! Snacks! Free Uber Rides! Lots of startups use unbelievable perks to keep staff happy (often while they’re working extra long hours). Mashable notes that companies like ModCloth and Tumblr offer free yoga classes, while Eventbrite has massages and acupuncture available every day of the week. Fab and Warby Parker have free catered lunch every day, while Jetsetter and Rent the Runway offer free beer on tap and happy hours. You’re not going to get perks like this working at the local bank branch, that’s for sure.

You Can Learn a Lot … But Might Be Teaching Yourself, Too

Being a part of a scrappy, crackerjack team of employees can be really exciting, especially when the M.O. is to be on the cutting edge of an industry, like a startup environment. But, you’ll also be likely tasked with seeking out knowledge and solving problems on your own, too. You’re there to innovate! Startups might be trying to break new ground, so you’ll be after solving the riddle of your company’s place in the world, and that can be no easy task. If you like the thrill of learning, a startup might be the right place for you.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

You Could Be in an Exciting Place … Until the Company Folds

Yes, most startups fail. In fact, 9 out of 10 will fail. Sometimes they have a great product and a great workforce, but just aren’t great business owners. Sometimes the product gets beat to the market. Sometimes they try to grow too fast, and can’t keep up with all that pesky infrastructure like a desk for everyone and money to keep the lights on. It happens. A lot. But what you learn at a startup can help you become a more interesting employee at your next gig. If you want to take a risk, maybe a startup is the perfect spot for your next career leap.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever worked at a startup? What happened? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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