How to Pick the Right Startup
Congratulations–you’re a young, talented graduate with a fistful of job offers. While this situation feels great, it can just as quickly feel overwhelming. How should you choose which company to work for?
For engineers early on in their careers, a startup should be a technology institute as much as a company. If you’re a young graduate with several job offers in hand, the best decision you can make is to grade your employment opportunities based on where you’ll learn the most.
If you go to a big bureaucratic company or a startup that works on trivial problems, you might get the wrong idea of what innovation and a true work ethic looks like. These first years of your career are formative, and if you spend 4 years at a company that works on hard challenges, has super smart teaching mentors and actively pushes technology forward, you’ll become a force to be reckoned with when you’re 26 and vested out.
Join early startups
The absolute best way to learn quickly is to join a startup in its very early stages. After all, why would you join Google when you could build the next Google? Though it’s true that Google has awesome opportunities buried in its bureaucracy, that same bureaucracy can be tough to navigate; you’ll likely remain unknown within the organization and it will be hard to find mentorship.
By joining early startups, you’ll be more visible and get more responsibility. As you take on responsibility, you’ll build maturity–both emotional and technical. You’ll also build independence, a trait that will serve you well as you take control of your career and projects down the road.
Building independence reaps rewards
Our economy doesn’t reward conformists–it rewards pirates who are willing to take on risk and ownership for new ventures. Top engineers should be able to take responsibility for a wide range of projects and feel comfortable in unfamiliar situations. That’s why you should always choose companies that will give you a broad range of experiences and allow you to become adept at wielding responsibility.
In the end, follow your gut
Following each of your interviews, close your eyes and ask yourself: what feels right? Picking a company is like picking a person to marry–you will be happier if you’re less intellectual about it. Though there will be highs and lows, what’s important is the daily cadence of the environment and the values of the company. Company culture encompasses all of these elements, so pay close attention to these less-tangible elements. If you can answer “what feels right?” correctly through your career, you’ll give yourself a huge opportunity to find success.