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

To startup, or not to startup. That is the question… again! In the second part of the blog series, guest blogger Adrienne from Arctic Lake discuss some more things to keep in mind to maximise your probability of success in either startup or corporate life… and minimise the potential for heartache.

Startups are great, but let’s be honest: it’s not all ping-pong and free drinks.  You need to be careful too when going to work for a startup because working at the wrong startup might be a uniquely bad experience. This can be either because it’s just not the right one for you and your values, or maybe the startup’s just really not that organised. See our diagrams below…


Three tips to make sure you find the right startup for you

I love startups. For me, startups give me the feeling of being a meaningful part of something exciting. I feel like I am changing the world.  I look forward to getting out of bed on Monday morning because my work brings joy into my life.

  1. Ask the right questions and do your research ahead of joining a startup. Some startups might also just throw investor money at problems without understanding if their business model is profitable, if the market is big enough, or if there is good product-market fit.  So, it’s a good idea to do your homework. Ask the right questions at your interview – ask what their long-term vision is like and seek to understand that they’re not just patching ideas together to survive.
  2. Startups are generally messier than well established companies, especially when it comes to onboarding new team members. Make sure that your startup is adequately prepared to help you succeed – ask about the code base and recruitment process to make sure you can handle the way they work.
  3. Finally, make sure that you respect the founders and senior employees. Sometimes, founders are very young – it’s a good idea to make sure they are more than just visionaries with a talent for pitching their ideas. Do they understand the technology they are trying to build? Do they really have the assets they say they have?  I have worked at multiple startups where I did not do enough research and discovered only after starting employment that the product wasn’t up to the hype.


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Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

Sometimes it’s about choosing your pain

In Mark Manson’s fantastic book ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck,’ he argues that to be happy, you must choose what pain you are willing to put up with, rather than what you want to get out of your life.  This is most definitely true here.

It is true that startups are not for everyone. There is less formal training involved, so working in a startup requires your own drive, curiosity, and a willingness to learn.  Startups are generally fast paced and your responsibility will grow quickly which means that hard work and independent responsibility might be a challenge. And when thinking of big corporate companies, they are not be fore everyone either, and have their own unique challenges such as bureaucracy and the dissatisfaction that your ideas are not always able to get traction.

So, you’ll just have to choose your pain. But in the end, it is up to you whether you’d like to try out a startup as your next career endeavour. Where might you see yourself fitting in?


King’s Careers Tip: Want to keep learning about working life? Learn about the essentials of starting work on our careers KEATS pages. If you’d like help discovering your values, passions and whether a startup life might be for you, check out our online course Who Am I?


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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