imageThis guest blog has been written by Sarah Bourke, who works at carwow, a comparison site for new cars based in London:

Carwow is a young startup going through a period of rapid growth. It has expanded from seven employees when I began six months ago, to 17 today. We’ve created an online platform through which you can compare great deals from approved car dealers around the UK without the usual hassle, haggling and hidden costs.

I graduated from university three years ago and have since worked for two startups. I thrive on the hectic, fast-paced work environment of startups and love the opportunities that they provide.

There is no set definition of a startup, but startups are typically small, newly-established businesses that rely on external investment and aim to solve a problem or fill a gap in the market.

Why work for a startup?

New graduates are increasingly tempted by what startups have to offer. You’ll gain real hands-on experience right from day one. On your first day, expect to show up and be handed a box containing your computer, receive a quick twenty minute chat about the company, and get thrown right in to the project of the day. Things move quickly and people who can keep up with the pace will do well at a startup.

You’ll work with both industry newcomers and experienced professionals, typically without the hierarchy of a typical corporation. This is a great way to learn from highly-skilled industry experts. Bureaucracy and “red tape” are essentially non-existent, so if you have a great idea, it can be turned into reality surprisingly fast.

You really feel like you’re doing something. Instead of typical large companies, where you feel like a cog in a larger machine, working at a startup means being on the front lines of innovation.

Finally, you’ll often be offered shares in the company as part of the compensation package. For the employer, this means you’ll be willing to work harder and will be more invested in the company (literally!). For you, this means a potentially huge payoff if the company does well.

What startups are looking for

Startups have to get quite a lot done with a small budget. So, they look for people who can (and are willing to) fill many roles. This means hires who have backgrounds in a variety of fields are particularly attractive. Don’t despair if your CV is short on experience though – startups look for a proactive attitude and a willingness to work, not just someone with an impressive background.

The most important key to success at a startup is being proactive and willing to tackle assignments head-on. If you need to be micro-managed, you should probably look elsewhere.

Life at a startup

I’m not going to sugar-coat it – many days are frantic, intense, and no one has a complete idea of what’s going on. Deadlines are tight and the stakes are high every single day. Some people thrive on this – those are typically the people who do well. Startups are sometimes compared to a pressure-cooker which I’d say is a fair comparison.

A typical day at a startup doesn’t exist. You may spend a week on a huge project that ends up not working out, only to pivot completely and do something totally different for the next month. This can be a good thing, though. As new tasks come up, you’re able to jump in and contribute whatever you can.

For me, life at a startup means I’m never bored and always learning. I’ve learned more in six months here at carwow than I did at my previous jobs combined. Working at a startup is exciting, challenging, and quite entertaining! There’s definitely a “work hard, play hard” mentality and celebrating achievements with colleagues is amazing.

If you’re after a demanding, dynamic career where you’ll learn and adapt as you do, you’ll probably love the startup scene.

For entrepreneurial events and opportunities at LSE, visit the LSE Generate website.