Startups are not like other businesses. Your job title is likely to either change, or be a poor description of what you do on a day-to-day basis, and you will be playing a pivotal role in whether the business succeeds or ultimately fails. But how can you prepare for startup life, if indeed you feel like you’re ready to make the plunge? We’ve got some tips to help you transition into this exciting, unpredictable part of the business world…

Startups are high risk, and potentially high reward

This is a question you need to ask yourself at the consideration stage: am I comfortable with the idea that my job may be gone in the blink of an eye? Startups are inherently risky, and if the business fails to either become profitable quickly or gain funding from investors, then things could go sour very quickly. However, the flipside to this is that getting in at the ground level may mean you’ll get an equity stake in the business, and/or you’ll get promoted substantially as the business grows. Because of this, though, if you do happen to jump onto a winning ticket, then you can potentially reap phenomenal career or financial rewards.

You should have a broad range of skills

There’s a good chance that, if you join a startup, you’ll be working in a very small team—possibly less than ten people. If you get in at the company’s early stages, they’re likely to want you to do a bit of everything; you may be employed as a marketer, but you may also end up doing deliveries, making business pitches to investors, stapling together booklets, acting in promotional videos, and so on. Because of this, those that are looking to work in a startup should be trying to acquire a broad range of business skills, and then highlighting these when actually looking for work. Which brings us to our next point…

A job interview with a startup, on the other hand, may be conducted over a cup of coffee or a beer with the founders.

Your “job interview” is unlikely to be like any other interview you’ve had before

If you’ve worked for an established company before, it’s likely that you’ve been through some long-winded HR processes in order to apply for the job. And this stands to reason: these are companies that have built systems and processes for dealing with large groups of applicants. A job interview with a startup, on the other hand, may be conducted over a cup of coffee or a beer with the founders. While your skills are obviously going to be of interest to them (see previous point), note that they will also be paying close attention to your personality, and considering whether you’ll be a good fit for the rest of the team (which, as previously stated, may be very lean). At these early stages, developing a cohesive team will be a central consideration for the business’s leaders, so it’s important to emphasise your experience and capabilities of working in close quarters with others. Even better, if you can get a handle on the business’s mission and objectives, and draw connections between this and your abilities, then you’re much more likely to have success in obtaining position.

Uncertainty is certain

After you’ve had your interview, you may not hear from the person you spoke to for a while. Or, they could make a decision on the spot and hire you. They will likely be incredibly busy, and either make a decision quickly, or will be too busy to discuss with their colleagues. This will kind of set the tone for your potential future with the startup, where things tend to happen in a very fluid (or unpredictable/uncertain/strange) way. Because this business is being built from the ground up, certain processes that are typically in place in established companies probably won’t exist, or you may even need to develop them yourself! Coming back to your interview, this ability to work with “grey areas” will be a very valuable trait to your prospective employers, so if you have had relevant experience working autonomously, or getting a project off the ground, you should be highlighting this.

Wanna learn some skills to prepare you for startup life?

Vacancies in the tech industry are actually quite common in Singapore – so much so that our founder, Bernard Chan, wrote an article about the phenomenon (which you can read here). The city is full of both established companies and startups that are looking for tech workers, as well as companies in other industries that looking for people with technical expertise.

At ALPHA Camp Singapore, we will be running a series of full time bootcamps on app development, web development, digital marketing, and UX/UI design—all of which can make you more valuable to startups that are looking for people. What’s more, we provide training in soft skills, like job interview preparedness and resume writing, helping you to potentially land that dream job!