If You Don’t Know What You Want to Do, Join a Startup

Earlier today I was talking with a friend that’s finishing up his senior year of college this spring. He’s smart, outgoing, hard working, and talented. From a school perspective, he’s a finance major with a good GPA at a large public university. From a career perspective, his current thinking is to get a masters in finance or a masters in management (like a lite MBA) with a goal of getting a job out West.

After talking for 30 minutes I probed further with questions like “what’s the value of a one year masters if you still don’t know what you want to do?” In the end, my recommendation was to join a startup or an entrepreneurial company where he can have a ton of responsibility and get exposed to a variety of areas before spending a year getting a degree he might or might not use.

Here are some benefits of joining a startup or an entrepreneurial company:

  • Things move fast creating a great environment for learning
  • Meritocracies are more rewarding, especially for an eager 22 year old
  • Job responsibilities are greater, on average, at a smaller company, and more fulfilling for an ambitious person
  • Startups are more a team sport than individual affair resulting in more exposure to different areas and opportunities

The message is simple: if you don’t know what you want to do in your career, join a startup or entrepreneurial company.

What else? What are your thoughts on joining a startup for people that don’t know what they want to do for a career but are interested in business?

6 thoughts on “If You Don’t Know What You Want to Do, Join a Startup

  1. Great points. The energy that you are exposed to when working in a startup is intense. Watching a product go from idea to actual product and bringing it to market is life altering. I totally recommend working for startups.

  2. I’m not entirely sure. If you’re talking employee number 50, then yes. If you’re looking at being one of the first 10 employees at a startup, there is a burning passion for early-stage tech companies that is required in order to deal with the long hours, chaos and likelihood of failure. if you can’t entirely commit to that a management training program at a F500 company, consulting or even managing a small-business could also fit the bill with less risk.

  3. “After talking for 30 minutes I probed further with questions like “what’s the value of a one year masters if you still don’t know what you want to do?”. This is a very smart question. Here in Romania, is also in fashion to have a master, and others thngs that they will have a better succes in their career with a MBA, well they want to be followers not owners :)

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