Career Resources

Valuable Guidance and Expert Tips for Career Builders and Employers from Career Experts and Industry Veterans

What It Means to Work for a Startup (As a Fresh Graduate) - Part 6 of 6

Hi there, I am Agnes Goh, a recent graduate of NTU Wee Kim Wee School of Communications and Information and University Scholars Programme. In my previous four articles as part of this 6-part sequel, I have shared about my personal experiences as an undergraduate and fresh graduate. In this final article, I would like to share the ups and downs of starting my career in a startup. Choosing the unconventional path takes a lot of courage and by sharing my own story, I hope to encourage you in finding the career that you desire. 



Is The Startup Life For You? 

For young, ambitious working adults with a sense of adventure, a startup proves to have immense opportunities for growth and learning. 

Are you at the cross-junction, deciding whether to join a startup? 


One important check is to identify your own personality and career aspirations. In order to understand if a startup is really suitable, you need to be honest with yourself. 

Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, understand your current family circumstances and very importantly, your priorities and key considerations. 


If you have clearly set out to embark on a lucrative career with structured progression, then a startup environment is unable to meet your goals. 

Or if you are looking forward to a stable job to support your family, neither will a startup be suitable for you. 


If you are hungry to learn and are willing to forgo some aspects of work-life balance, then a startup is worth considering. Just be mindful that every startup also has its own culture and management style. 


Understand The Startup Before Joining

While it is mostly true that startup can offer many learning opportunities, be vigilant in knowing the direction and long-term plans of the startup during your interviews before jumping in. There are many startups that are growing rapidly, with some emerged as successful business models, but also those that are struggling to survive. So take the necessary steps to research about the company’s profile and validate the information you have gotten before or after the interview. 



Managing Your Work Life In A Startup

If you have arrived at the decision to join a startup, then begin with an end in mind. 

Be willing to work hard for the company and treat yourself as a member of the core team. 

Being part of a young and dynamic team also means that you should be willing to take on duties outside of your expected job scope and help your colleagues whenever required.

It is okay to make mistakes because you grow and learn from them. But as much as possible, avoid making mistakes that could impact the company. Every decision and action of a member in the team will affect the company far more than in a MNC setting. 


In the event that you are really too overworked, be willing to communicate with the management team and try proposing feasible solutions. A major plus point of a startup is its flat hierarchy and open communication, so find out if the management team really values its employees and are willing to communicate openly. Should you realise that things have been taking a turn for the worst and communication is not doing its magic, then move on to consider a change of environment.


What’s Your Other Options? 



Consider alternative options that offer similar learning opportunities or environment as per a startup. Explore different company setting to identify the best fit, such as MNCs with small local offices that share a startup culture, or SMEs with a flat hierarchy (relative to big corporations) but offer more stability than a startup. Between startups, the culture can also vary depending on the founder and its origin country. Find out what’s the best fit for you!