I have been working for a start-up for just over 6 months and in that time, I have worked on a multitude of forefront technologies. Previously working for a mature start-up, there was a lot to compare. From process to the inner details of new projects, here are a few reasons why I think every engineer should work for a start-up.
You will have the opportunity to work on everything. From infrastructure as code, DevOps tasks, front-end, back-end, and integrations. You will gain a deeper understanding of how things are connected at a high level but most importantly how they work under the hood. Engaging in tasks you would not normally be involved in is especially important at the beginning of your career. As an engineer, we are curious minds always wanting to know everything, but it isn’t possible and that’s okay. Taking it slow and learning as you go is all you need to succeed.
Working with a small team allows you to grow into new roles and positions. As the company scales, there will be more and more responsibilities to take on and for that reason, more leadership positions to fill. Finding the right fit for the job may cost more for the company in the long run. Instead, they may look inwards at nurturing the talent they currently have. You will be put in a position to take charge and seize incredible opportunities. Personally, I still find it difficult to put myself out there but what I have learned is that hard work beats talent. As long as you’re putting in the time and effort to being the best you can be, these opportunities will always present themselves. It is much better to take a chance on something new than to be stuck in something familiar with no room for growth.
From my experience working for a mature start-up, I learned there were certain expectations around how things were meant to be designed. There were rules about how to do things and a set technology stack to be used. When you work for a start-up you get to explore and decide what works best for different sets of problems. You are given more time to research how to do something completely new without much influence. From code architecture to choosing what type of tools to use, there is more leeway in decision-making. The workload is different as well, there are bigger pieces of code to write instead of many one-line fixers. This helps you practice the art of developing your solution from a “just get it done” mentality to crafting a masterpiece. I strongly believe that mastering this craft and your approach to solving problems is key to becoming a great developer.
A few honorable mentions.
Team Culture — being able to create a culture you want to be a part of.
Scaling — seeing the rewards with company growth in audience and size over time.
Exposure to working on different parts of the software, leadership opportunities and, the freedom to create solutions that you are proud of are just a few reasons why I think every software engineer should work for a start-up. However, there are also many challenges that come with it. It takes a lot of perseverance, hard work, and failure to bring an idea to life and I think that is what makes it an exciting place to be.