Startups Aren’t As Glamorous As They Seem To Be (but sometimes they are worth it)

Byte Academy

Emily Hunt does business development at Byte Academy, a coding bootcamp with career-oriented programs. It is a startup itself and a hub for others.

Growing up I chewed gum like a cow. “You could never work in corporate America,” my mom, a mergers and acquisitions attorney for General Electric and then Bank of America, would say over my chomping. Did I want to? My mom’s dinner conversations filled with esoteric corporate jargon bored me. Her overall presence just seemed stern, bland and “uncool” with her short hair, long hours at the office and few laughs. Growing up I did not know of an alternative to corporate America and its correlation to success. Yet, I could not put my finger on the fact that gum chewing and other behaviors were a symbol of my resistance.

Fast forward and the worst two years in the work world for me was in a corporate-like structure. I had to be in at a certain time every day, felt like the devil if I left early (even if I did not have work to do) and constantly worried about following the rules. Excited for new projects, I worked tirelessly on them but only for creativity to be squandered and the constant echo of “don’t reinvent the wheel” from superiors.

While a startup environment fosters innovation, it also means a lack of structure and sometimes paralysis by analysis. While the freedom to be creative may seem like a privilege it also means constant anxiety, doubt, uncertainty, and the pressure to execute. There is no path or rules to follow. You blaze our own trail and are fully responsible for it.

Ninety percent of startups fail. Uber is a needle in the haystack, as are those billion dollar unicorns. However, if you are the type of person with resilience, passion and maybe not the best with authority, perhaps you can survive. The lack of money to be made starting out may be remedied ironically by the amount of work to do. A vision keeps you going and ties you down to work without time or money to be spent on outside activities and friends.

Though swallowed by work, it’s ultimately fulfilling with the thin chance to be the next Mark Zuckerberg of the world. Instead of the 9 – 5 pm job where part of it is spent twiddling your thumbs, daydreaming or browsing tinder just to make after work plans, it’s now 10-8 pm and you want to work on the weekend. Nothing is worse than being caged in an office when you don’t have to be. We even make ours like home with game nights and snacks.

Perhaps because of the publicized unicorns which are the exception rather than the norm, it’s amazing how many millennials and Gen Z’s that I encounter are determined to work for a startup. I manage business development at a coding bootcamp which is also a startup. My role lets me get to know the students attending our classes in addition to strategic partners around the globe. From day one, I was amazed how many students would rather work for a startup than an established company or corporation. Recent news highlights that millennials’ dream job is Google rather than Goldman Sachs. When I graduated from an Ivy League school less than ten years ago, this was not the case.

So, still completely sure you are ready for startup land? Here is what I wish someone told me years ago…

Free labor. Much more effective than an interview is free labor. The first time I was introduced to this was applying to startups in Silicon Valley such as AirBnB and Hotel Tonight. My nickname became the “Project Queen.” My mom would say “What is this? At Bank of America I’ve hired hundreds of candidates, we don’t make them do free labor.” On the bright side you’ll notice how creative and eager to take risks you may be when no money is at stake. Every single intern that I’ve engaged at Byte Academy has raved about the experience telling me that they have never learned more from a prior role.

Community connections. Small startups tend to be part of a supportive strong community filled with driven founders. Check out some founders’ talks, networking and more startup events. This will increase chances that you will come in contact with company decision makers rather than someone reporting to him or her. At our coding bootcamp, we have a “Startup Talk” series in which we bring in guest speakers to discuss their company and their career pathway. This also helps cultivate organic, mentor-like relationships with students. We recently added a Mininternship (mini internship) program, in which bootcampers can do work for real employers while attending our academy. The hiring process can be faster for startups than larger companies so at the end of the day spending more personal time invested in attending events and/or working for free may actually save time.

Learn coding to understand technology. When I was graduating college this was not the case but now, in order to advance career wise, you must understand code. All industries are affected by technology. In the past few years FinTech (financial technology), MedTech (medical technology), AdTech (advertising technology), LawTech and more have proliferated. I often tell people considering bootcamps that you don’t learn code in order to be a programmer necessarily, you learn it to communicate with engineers.

Although you may be younger and hipper than others you must value their wisdom. In business development, I work with people who have been in the workforce for 20 years or more, particularly at larger partner companies. This is great because I can learn from them including their good habits and they appreciate my new, out-of-the-box ideas. Even though I can wear cutoff shorts and flipflops at work, I refrain from denim and combat boots at industry events, meetings and other work affairs.

If you are still convinced that you want to work for a startup, Byte Academy has marketing, event planning and content production (blogs, video, etc) internship openings. Although these positions may sound “fun” they are a lot of hard work and nitty gritty. You’ll get out what you put in though. Benefits include interaction with company CEOs, tickets to top events and long lasting connections that will help you with any career. Not quite ready for work but want to increase earning potential? Attend our coding bootcamp. We offer courses in general Python fullstack programming, FinTech, MedTech, Data Science courses and more. I guarantee you’ll bond with students, team and partner companies while working hard, learning and having fun. Join our meetup group to get a taste of what I mean. We offer numerous financial aid options because we are convinced that you will produce earnings quickly to pay back loans.

For more information on Byte Academy’s program please email info@byteacademy.co. For interest in marketing, content production and event planning internships please email emily.h@byteacademy.co with resume attached.

Are you an undergraduate, graduate student, or MBA candidate interested in paid part-time jobs, full-time jobs or internships in the exciting world of Start Ups? Meet employers and explore opportunities at the NYU Spring 2016 Start Up Job Expo on March 31st, 4:00PM-6:30PM at The Wasserman Center. RSVP on CareerNet to learn more!