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Why I joined a start-up (and why you should too) – For Alumni, By Alumni

13 May 2021

Alex Moir (BA 2018) is a marketing executive who, after graduating and working in bars in London to make ends meet, landed his dream job by taking a chance on a start-up company. Here he explains why he thinks start-ups can be a great way to get your career going.

If you graduated in 2018, you had a 33% chance of employment in place before your graduation date. By 2020, your chance was just 18%. I know, I must be really fun at parties.

My point is that if you’re reading this, you might be in the position I was in when leaving university. The fistful of grad schemes I applied to didn’t work out. I didn’t have anything in my back pocket except going full-time at my term-time job or moving back home and waiting for the next intake round of my preferred grad schemes.

Instead, I moved to London, worked in a bar to make rent, and applied for jobs in my spare time.

Most people advised me against working for a start-up. “Secure a safe job at a big company in your twenties. Start-ups are risky and if yours fails, it’ll be a mark on your CV.”

But I didn’t want to be a Big Four consultant. I didn’t want to do a law conversion and scrabble for a training contract, and I didn’t want to go back to college to study for more qualifications. I wanted to work in tech – it seemed exciting, and there were plenty of graduate opportunities in London.

Joining the world of legal tech

Through a start-up job marketplace called Joblab (now Stride), I spotted a graduate role at a company that sounded interesting and applied. The company I joined, Juro, invited me in, and I spent the majority of the interview process learning about the company’s vision from its founders. I was offered, and accepted, a position as their first business development representative. The end-to-end process took two weeks; I was employee number 15.

Two years into my post-university career, where am I? Yep, still working at Juro.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. Here’s why:

1. No two days are the same.

In two years, I’ve seen the company more than double in headcount and raise over $7m in venture capital from the investors behind Twitter. I’ve helped shape the foundations of our sales and marketing processes and have worked with every department in the company in one way or another. The best part is that this still feels like the beginning of the adventure.

2. You’re invested in the company’s success, and they’re invested in yours.

Hiring, for early-stage start-ups, is genuinely make-or-break. A bad hire can be catastrophic and an extremely expensive mistake. If a start-up chooses to hire you, the chances are they really like you and plan to keep you around for a while.

To do that, they may give you share options in the company that ‘vest’ over time. This is your stake in the company’s success, and the more the company grows, the more your stake is worth. Equally, your colleagues are invested in helping you grow with the company and succeed in your career.

3. You learn fast.

Working in a start-up, you see how the entire business operates and works together. You’re climbing a steep learning curve and getting a little better each day. You also have a huge amount of responsibility from day one, and your performance can make a decisive impact on the company.

It can be hard. Sometimes, you’re given an outcome to reach, with no obvious way to get there. But that’s also what makes it exciting. It’s up to you to experiment, try new things, and build knowledge you’ll take with you through your career. You’ll understand what makes a company successful and get an even better idea of where you want your career to go.

4. You shape your role.

In a start-up, you’re constantly collaborating with other teams and learning about their roles. You may even decide you want to change your trajectory in the company. Maybe you started in sales, but realise you want to move into marketing.

So, make the jump! As the company grows, new roles pop up all the time and internal hiring is often faster and easier. Just let your team know where you want to go, and they’ll be supportive in helping you get there.

Two years into start-up life, there have been ups and downs – it’s not always the glamour and drama that you see in shows like Silicon Valley. But when you watch your company triple its revenue in a year, you’ll realise it’s an adventure worth sticking with. So why not start an adventure of your own?

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