Startup or Corporate? Tips for the intrepid graduate (1/2)

To startup, or not to startup. That is the question.  And it’s an easy choice if you ask guest blogger Adrienne Gauldie at Arctic Lake – startup all the way!  But, there are some things to keep in mind to maximise your probability of success and minimise the potential for heartache.

People talking to each other at an evening event
Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

You’ve almost made it.  Here you are, nearing the end of your studies and gazing upon the world of possibilities ahead of you.  The world is your oyster! And this first step – your first proper job – is an important one. It could set the trajectory for the next five or 10 years of your life. Where do you want to go?

There are many compelling reasons to work at a tech startup early in your career.  We look at just a few of them here, along with a couple of things to keep in mind to ensure your first startup job is a fantastic experience.

Benefit 1: You’ll learn Fast

A lot of big companies will hold your hand through months of graduate training, along with onboarding videos and sessions, before finally releasing you into the wild, where you will be trusted with only the most menial of tasks.  Not so at a startup.

At a small tech startup, everyone has to wear different hats so that everything gets done. You’ll get direct exposure to clients, and learn about the business as a whole, not just your station on the assembly line. If you’re lucky, you’ll work directly with the founders. Tech startups are also more likely to invest in the most recent technologies, so you will get to play with cool stuff.

All of this means that after two years at a start-up, you will be miles ahead of your cohort.  You will have levelled up your skills and gained confidence, giving you a massive edge in your career (no matter where you go after your first role).


Benefit 2: Work that you will (mostly) love

At a start-up – especially an early stage one- you might have to answer the phones, make the coffee when it’s your turn, and manage emails upon emails. But, you’ll also get to collaborate closely with colleagues in an environment where your ideas matter.  You’ll see your ideas and your work in action weeks into the job rather than years, and you could be a part of something that disrupts an industry.

London financial district skyscrapers during a sunny day

Benefit 3: You can leave the politics to Westminster

I have worked at a lot of startups, and also at a few big multinational companies.  The most important thing is that you find a healthy company to work at. I have also found that big companies can be much more political than startups.

Along with growth also comes bureaucracy. And meetings. Lots and lots of meetings.  At a startup, decisions are made quickly and you will learn powerful habits to create and ship products efficiently. At Arctic Lake, we are able to collect immediate feedback from our clients and from the market and incorporate this feedback into our roadmap. We do not have to get signoff from eight different departments – when we have a good idea from within our team, we can run with it.


Part 2 of the blog will be up tomorrow – with more reflections from Arctic Lake about the world of startups!


Author: Adrienne Gauldie, Project Manager at Arctic Lake

About Arctic Lake

At Arctic Lake, we build smart trading businesses.  From network infrastructure and exchange gateways to execution algorithms, risk, and the user interface, we build and manage the entire platform for our clients, focusing on electronic trading and execution.

We hire independent thinkers who are excited about solving difficult problems and the opportunity to contribute to platforms in use by tier one financial institutions.  We value honesty, integrity, and accountability.

Check out our vacancies on our web pages.


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