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6 Stages of Getting Acclimated to the Tech Startup Environment

Maybe you’re a recent college grad and the uncertainty and risk associated with the startup world is something that intrigues you. Or maybe you’re a mid-career professional looking for something “non-corporate.” No matter your intentions, you’re here now! You’re in one of the fastest growing industries, doing something that’s techy and important, I’m sure. Here are some of the stages you go through when getting acclimated to your new environment:

1. AWE
WHOA. There’s a secret conference room behind a bookcase and catered lunch every Tuesday and a fully stocked kitchen ALL THE TIME? Ok, my awe was a little focused on the food aspect of the startup environment. Cut me some slack, I’m a college student that has been sustaining herself on free food for the past 3 years. Now, as I wipe the (free) pizza crumbs off my hands to type this, let’s get into what is truly awe-inspiring: the people. If you are in an incubator like I am, you are surrounded by incredibly intelligent professionals from a bunch of different industries and companies. They have started their own businesses, been top execs in corporations, and have probably been where you are looking to take your career, and guess what… they’re working three feet from you. You are surrounded by people that can do things that you didn’t even know people could do. Need to integrate one app into another? Cool, let me just type a string of letters, numbers, and symbols and BAM, it’s done. If being surrounded by people that know so much more than you isn’t absolutely incredible to you, you’re in the wrong industry, pal.

2. OVERWHELMED
Alright, these startup people. They’re so crucial to the environment, I’m going to continue talking about them.These people are INSANE(ly) hard workers. Startup employees never stop. This is not a 9-5 environment; this is a 24/7- 365 (sometimes 366) environment, no matter your title. You haven’t seen this dedication since your last Netflix binge-watching bender, but it exists in a professional, productive setting, too (who knew?). You need to be prepared to do the same, the being professional/productive thing, not the Netflix bender. This could totally be a little overwhelming at first! You’re probably thinking, “I didn’t know I was choosing this company to give my lifeblood to,” but you have! You have the passion and the skills to continue to build this company and you made the choice to immerse yourself into this fast-paced, can’t-stop-won’t-stop environment of the startup world.

3. GETTING INTO A RHYTHM
Once you’re over the initial shock and awe of this new workplace you have plunged into, you start to get into a rhythm. You’ve got a handle on what you’re doing; whether it’s content marketing, app development, or community managing, you are familiar with the new tools you were given to get your job done and you’re doing just that (probably phenomenally, may I add). There are new challenges thrown your way on a daily basis and that’s what you were looking for: ways to expose yourself to new problems and find creative solutions to solve them. These problems can be something you have encountered in the past or something that you have never seen in your life. How do you make a how-to video? Well you need to get microphones to record your voice, an app to reflect your phone screen to your computer… etc, etc. You need to figure these things out yourself if you’re the first one to be doing them and you soon realize…

4. YOU KNOW NOTHING… (Jon Snow)
You thought you were getting into a comfy rhythm, but let’s be honest, that would be BORING. That’s what you’re trying to avoid with your new job. You’re going about your work and it’s a challenge, but you’re getting through! You ask others for help and they introduce you to new ways of approaching problems and new tools for overcoming them. So you take a step back and you realize, you know things, but you have so much to learn!

5. LEARN ALL THE THINGS
Now we’re going into ‘learning all the things mode.’ Really, in any job there is so much to dive into! You have a specialty and you’re killer at it, but there is so much to learn to make your job easier, the quality of your work better, and the benefits you offer your company more plentiful. So start asking your coworkers, friends, bosses, mentors, office pets, etc.: What’s something you could learn to help you develop professionally? Or, what’s something you want to learn? Design? Hit up Hack Design which sends you lessons, articles, and editorials from design pros through email. How about coding? I’m a big fan of Skillcrush; it offers videos, practice, articles, OFFICE HOURS WITH PROS, and a forum for communicating and collaborating with fellow Skillcrushers. Also, ladies and minorities, check out Google’s new initiative to get a more diverse tech workforce! People who love learning love the startup tech environment. That’s a thoroughly, scientifically researched theory.

6. THIS IS WHERE YOU BELONG
Well, now that you’re done your first day on the job… Just kidding. We make jokes here; it’s fun. You’ve been in your position a couple weeks, maybe a month or two, and you’ve gone from being impressed with food to overwhelmed by the intelligent people that surround you to learning everything you can get your little paws on. Working in tech, especially the startup world, means you work dang long, stressful hours, you’re constantly immersing yourself into pools of knowledge, and contributing to the growth of your company in any way you can. You’re loving every second of it and you found the industry in which you belong. *Sentimental music playing*

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