Last week the women on the Pulse team (Lili, Ketaki and Cristina) held an event for Women in Computer Science at Stanford. The topic of the event was “Mythbusters: Women at Early-Stage Startups”. Startups are an exciting place to work, but some (especially new grads!) have concerns and reservations about the culture and expectations at such a job. We explored and debunked some of the myths we often hear from students and non-students alike:
1. You will work crazy hours and have no life
This is simply not true. Even when you are working at a startup, you can choose your own work hours according to your lifestyle. Want to come in late and work late? That’s okay. Want to take a run in the middle of the day to clear your thoughts? That’s okay. Working crazy hours will burn you out and startups want to prevent that. At some startups, you’ll work more than 40 hours a week, and at others, you’ll work more standard hours. The focus is not placed on the number of hours you work, but rather on getting the job done.
2. It’s too late to learn a skill
“I am a web developer and will remain so throughout my career.” Not true. If you want to learn iOS or Android while working as a web developer, you can teach yourself a new skill. Communicating this to the right person is key, because he or she may be able to help you switch positions if you find something you’re passionate about. Of course, learning in the working world is not as structured as it would be in school. You will be responsible for teaching yourself at the same time as performing your current job, but this is certainly possible!
3. As a woman, you will live in a bro-culture
If you choose your startup wisely, you should not run into this problem. In our careers, we have found that fields like gaming and finance can be male-dominated, but by spending a day at a company you can see which ones are more open and you would feel at home with.
4. You should only work at a startup when you’re young
You can work at a startup at any age or stage of life. Depending on the company, the age of employees can vary widely. As long as you are passionate about the job, your age is not important. For those with families, remember that working long hours is not a guarantee of producing the best work. Making a big impact is satisfying at any age!
Beyond the myths, here’s what you can look forward to at the right startup:
- Impact on a product and end-users
- Flexible work hours and schedule
- You’ll know everyone at your company – you’re not a cog
- A flat structure where feedback is coming your way from all directions
- You can experiment and make mistakes
- High volume testing – testing on production
- Tons of responsibility
- Interfacing and collaborating with other teams (design, product, business)
- You have a say in your career goals and future
Looking forward to more such events in the future.