Enterprise, More

Life Post-University: My experience working in a Tech-Education Start-up

Finishing University can feel pretty daunting. Whether you’re a fresher or in your final year,the prospect of embarking upon a career is definitely a scary one, and it is totally normal to feel slightly under prepared and hesitant when it comes to tackling the dreaded job-hunt for the first time. Having spent four years in Cardiff, completing both my Undergrad in English Literature and my Postgrad in Journalism at Cardiff University, my final essay submission marked the close of one of the best chapters of my life so far.

However, after taking a few months off for some much-needed rest and recuperation, it was time to open the next chapter and embark upon the unavoidable job-hunt. I had recently moved to London and was keen to kick-start my career in marketing, so I spent hours a day pouring over job posts and applying for anything that looked like it could be suited to me and my skill set.

After a few unsuccessful job applications (and, admittedly, a couple of existential breakdowns), I received a message from Alex Dyer (the CEO & founder of the online tutoring platform Tutor House), on LinkedIn. We exchanged several messages, I completed a writing task and then Alex invited me to come into the office for an interview. It went well, and a few weeks later I was offered the job as Junior Content Writer for Tutor House.

This was in February 2019. I have now been working at Tutor House for nearly a year, and have learned a lot – in terms of myself, the education marketplace and business as a whole. I have not only significantly boosted my skill set and understanding of the industry, copy writing and digital marketing (after working at Tutor House for 6 months I was promoted to the role of Digital Marketing Lead), but also in terms of what it means to be part of a startup company.

Whilst working in a startup certainly won’t be for everyone, it is becoming an increasingly popular option, particularly amongst young adults who are only just beginning their careers, and I can see why. So, whether you’ve just started the job hunt or are knee-deep in CVs and cover letters but haven’t had much luck applying for roles in bigger companies, here are a few things that I have learned about working in a startup that might make you consider applying to work for one, too:

Office culture:

One of the best things about working in a small startup is that there is a unique opportunity to build a really solid and motivating office environment. As we have so few employees, each individual employee has built real relationships with each other and, as a result, is able to work well together in order to achieve the same goal. Because creativity and innovation are at the heart of startup mentality, a stimulating workplace built on positive relationships is vital for growth and productivity.

You will work hard & develop a strong work ethic:

Don’t be fooled, it’s not all flashy gaming rooms, beanbags and scootering down hallways; working in a startup is definitely hard work! Alongside having a pretty heavy workload, employees will also often be expected to take on multiple roles at the same time, especially if the team is small. Whilst this is not always the case, it is a good idea to expect some interchangeability when it comes to your role. The opportunities for learning and growth are abundant if you approach your work with a certain level of flexibility.

You learn a lot about business and develop key skills that will prove vital in later life,both inside and outside the workplace:

Another great thing about working in a startup is that you have the unique opportunity to get to grips with the ins and outs of what it means to build a company from the ground up. Being a part of a small, fast-growing company allows employees to attain exposure to all the different aspects of the business, alongside providing a wide range of opportunities for leadership. Alongside this comes the development of key business and transferable skills, such as teamwork, delegation, time management, and organisation.

You will have the freedom to innovate :

Unlike in companies that are already ‘big’, startups are defined by the fact that they need to grow fast. Therefore, employees will often be granted the opportunity to really get involved in innovating and coming up with ideas on how to maximise growth.

You will be given a lot of responsibility and often work without supervision:

Whilst this doesn’t work for everyone, working in a startup is a great opportunity for employees who thrive when working independently to really flourish. Working independently or in a small team somewhat forces you to adopt a strong working manner and to focus on the task at hand. With so few employees, you will have to take direct accountability for your role within the company, and this provides great motivation for both employees and individual teams.

You will learn the importance of communication:

Communication can be a tricky one when it comes to startups. Whilst a small team environment means that you will often find yourself interacting with colleagues who work in a vastly different area of the company to you, that does not necessarily mean you are exercising communication in the right way. The fast-paced, high-pressure atmosphere that comes with a startup can lead to individual teams or employees getting wrapped up in what they’re doing and forgetting to update the rest of the team, and this can cause issues down the line in terms of productivity and growth. Communication is imperative when it comes to a smooth-running startup where everyone is on the same page, and this is something that I have learned over the past year.

Other perks:

Whilst this is likely to vary from startup to startup, there are often lots of perks that come with working for a small company. These can range from flexible working hours and a casual atmosphere and dress code, to free breakfasts or lunches and working from home benefits. Moreover, startups will often offer valued employees long-term benefits; which could include a senior role and/or employee stock options.

And there we have it! These are some of the few key takeaways that I have from working in a startup. Startup life certainly won’t be right for everyone, but in many ways, there are few other working environments that allow employees to take on such a high level of responsibility, or have such significant potential for personal and professional growth. If you’re on the hunt for a job and aren’t having much luck, maybe consider applying for a role within a startup; you never know – it could be the perfect career move for you!

Best Wishes,

Betsy Kharas

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