Back in the 80s and 90s, the top priority of graduates from Ivy League schools was to work in one of the skyscrapers on Wall Street. In 2017, the situation has changed and a whole different kind of firm is drawing in young talent. These firms are the startups and tech companies.
In 2007, 13% of Harvard graduates landed jobs at investment banks. In 2014, only 5% of the graduates chose banking jobs. At the same time, the number of graduates who chose tech companies increased from around 7% to 17%.
Tech companies have managed to build employer reputations for themselves that seem to have more of an allure to the younger generation of employees - one need only look at pictures of the Google campus to understand how. Add to that reports about the Silicon Valley being ‘bathed in sunshine’ and it seems no surprise that an increasing number of well-educated millennials are naming tech companies like Google, Amazon, but also smaller growth companies as their employer of choice.
Why are startups trending?
(1) We all know Mark Zuckerberg, who built Facebook now, at age 31, is a billionaire with a net worth of more than 40 billion dollars. And the allure of maybe being part of building the next Facebook, Google, AirBnB is certainly a powerful one - it’s a bit of a Gold Rush. These companies that make the rules in their respective markets and who with their enormous success have become category kings.
(2) Tech and digital technologies are trending. Take, for instance, a look at Google or Uber, but there are countless others. These companies are building the digital technology that is part of and shapes our daily lives. Furthermore, digital technology has made it easier to start and scale a business quite quickly - which is why they are so easy to set up. Car manufacturers need big plants, heavy machinery, and large production lines. Digital companies can start with a mere Internet access.
(3) Staying at the Zuckerberg example, it is a known fact that he wears flip-flops and T-shirts for work - a real alternative to wearing a stiff office attire. But this is not just about the office attire, tech firms are better at addressing the needs of the new generation of employees in order to foster innovation. The work and the hours might be as hard and long as in investment banking but the quality of work life seems to be much better (fun) at tech firms.
(4) Saying that life at tech firms is all sunshine and rainbows is far stretched. There is still a lot of hard work to be done. The biggest factor in favor of tech startups is the optimism and drive that characterize the work environment. Luke Geiger, startup intern turned entrepreneur and founder, says it best.
‘Everyone in that room believed they were working on something that had the potential to disrupt industries and change the world. And let me tell you, that mindset is contagious.’
Are there any downsides of working for a startup?
(1) Nine out of ten startups fail. That is a frightening fact. According to a study, the number one reason for failure is that the market does not need their products (47%). This is followed by lack of capital (29%) and the wrong team (23%).
(2) Success won’t guarantee you a fully secure job. Twitter has been forced into drastic layoffs over the last 2 years due to product recalibration.
(3) At an established firm, you will probably receive some intro training and will have some time to get acquainted with the job before feeling the pressure to perform well. The success of the company does not depend on whether you perform well from the start or not. At startups, you get thrown into the thick of it right from day one, and the company’s success might depend on you.
(4) You might not make as much money. Startups, in some cases, offer equity in the company for their employees instead of salary. You might buy into the promise of future success that may or may not come no matter how many hours you pull or skills you master. Another reason for not getting a salary is that the funding startups get has to last for a long time, so they can be real Scrooges when it comes to spending it on salary.
Are you in?
Now you know the pros and cons. Still, feel like riding the wave and joining a startup but don’t know where to start? We are going to look into the startup and tech scene of various cities and will give you a rundown of what’s happening, where to find the hottest startups and which events to join.
If you are considering to look for a startup job or internship in Copenhagen, Berlin, Amsterdam, or London, take a look at how big the startup scene and competition for the startup jobs are in these cities by checking out Graduateland’s indicator of the number of students per startup.