Transitioning careers is never easy. It is inherently risky. Changing trajectories and moving into an unfamiliar, if exciting new world is, by nature, drenched with uncertainty.
But then again, your work does take up a bloody lot of your life. A calculated risk in the interest of a job you’ll love might just be a risk worth taking.
If the monotony of your corporate job has been getting you down, a fast-paced and dynamic startup role might be the choice for you.
Not sure you can make the switch? Here are some common concerns, and reasons why transitioning from the corporate world to a tech startup is easier than you think:
Modern industries are always changing. It’s easy to feel at odds when you’re competing for jobs against people with lots more experience in the field. Tech, specifically, is continuously, and quickly evolving; giving-way to new products, consumer trends, and problems that call on different skill-sets than some more traditional fields.
The worst mistake you can make is underestimating the value of your own experiences. A sales background is invaluable to any business, but many early-stage companies don’t understand the science or art. Consider your own style and strengths to target the startups most in need of your talents.
Sector-specific knowledge can play to your advantage, too. For example, if you understand how traditional finance works, you can help a startup incite disruption in London’s booming Fintech sector.
Don’t let a lack of technical chops deter you; you’d be surprised at how adaptable your background is, and how far your passion and grit can take you. Capitalize on your strengths, and follow your bliss to engage in a meaningful side project. Your extra efforts will spotlight you as an enthusiastic do-er.
- Training opportunities:
Working in startups does not offer the clear career trajectory of major corporates, and some worry about access to training opportunities in small bootstrapped companies.
While it’s true that startups often don’t always have the resources to offer formal training programmes, loads of responsibilities, the hyper-fast-pace, and creative freedom will offer a more authentic and efficient education than any MBA programme could hope to replicate.
As entrepreneur and “Hacking Your Education” author Dale Stephens reveals in this Wall Street Journal article, the two main values to be derived from an M.B.A. programme are educational content and a strong network. And yet, 23% of 2012 M.B.A. grads from the University of California were still unemployed three months after graduation.
Getting in at the ground-floor of a new company, you’ll find yourself quickly immersed in the startup community, and will gain authentic experience in both business development and the shaping of company culture. In the meantime, you can self-direct your own professional development according to your specific interests and gaps with free online instruction. Visit Codecademy for accessible, interactive coding courses, or Udemy.com for a vast buffet of learning opportunities.
- Fear of the unknown:
The culture and working methods of a startup can be very different— roles are less defined and your schedule is yours to manage. Uphold the mission and get work done are the only consistent rules.
Before you sign on, do your research. Know what you’re getting into, and decide if it feels like the right choice for you. Are you comfortable with change and uncertainty? Are you willing to work outside of your job description? Can you plow onward and upward after the company pivots and the fruits of your blood, sweat, and tears are left for the vultures?
For the more adventurous among us, startup work brings a sense of thrill to the office, and the chance to make a more clearly visible impact. But, startups aren’t for everyone. Reflect on your fears and the reasons behind them and ask yourself what the opportunity for ownership and exhilaration means to you.
- It’s all about who you know:
The London startup community is tight-knit, and the only way in is to know people.
So, get out there! Ask questions. Figure out what you’re passionate about.
Sign up for the Silicon Drinkabout weekly newsletter for the scoop on their next Friday night social, or link up with designers, developers, and non-techs at one of London’s upcoming Startup Weekends. Follow @TechMeetups or @Girlsintech_UK to keep pulse on happenings in the digital community.
(Shameless plug: Startup Institute also hosts frequent free events. Stop by for some drinks and nibbles whilst tuning-up your networking skills or collecting expert resumé feedback. Raring and ready to make the leap into a startup job? Apply for our immersive 8-week Core Programme for insider’s access to the startup community.)
Leaving a corporate job for the progressive and exciting world of startups is not a decision to be taken lightly, but if you find yourself watching the second hand slowly tick away or have a chronic case of the Sunday-night blues, it may be time to reevaluate your career trajectory. Start by getting the lay of the land and, if you find yourself energized by London’s innovation community, then let go of your fears, immerse yourself, and showcase the value you bring.
The first step to finding a job you love is deciding to make a change.