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What to expect at a startup as a (new) developer

spirodonfl profile image Spiro Floropoulos ・3 min read

If you're a new developer and not sure what to expect then this is probably for you. I'll give you a very brief outline of what it might be like working at a startup and what you might expect a startup to offer.

The video version of this post is embedded below.

To begin with...

Not all startups are the same. It might seem like the word "startup" insinuates a small company working out of a garage but they're not all like that. Sometimes, you can't tell the difference between a startup and a larger, more established, company. Therefore, my advice doesn't cover every startup under the sun. It's just some ramblings on things you might see at some startups.

Few people, many hats

If you're looking at a smaller startup then it's likely that they have a lot of pressure to perform and grow. They are probably also under financial burdens. If they are they're almost certainly under human resource burdens as well.

What does this mean for you? Take a real world example: You get hired at a startup as a back-end developer. That's your skill. Maybe fresh out of school. That is your title and responsibility. Upon joining you see that they don't have a quality assurance team. They don't have a quality assurance person. They don't even have a quality assurance process. In some cases, this is actually just fine. But, usually, down the line, the company starts to require quality assurance more and more. But they can't hire anybody (or they can't hire anybody fast enough) and so they come to you to spearhead the QA efforts. You don't know anything about QA but you have to do what you can. A good startup will know it's not your strength and support you.

That can absolutely happen to you. If it's happening to you then count on it happening to many other members of the company. Everyone has to step up and do things they weren't originally intended for in order to keep the company moving forward. Some developers are cool with that and even thrive in that condition. Some don't. That's up to you. I can cover that more in a followup post/video.

Benefits & Salary

Smaller startups can't always provide benefits (medical and otherwise) or competitive salaries (even at starting positions) so don't be surprised if this happens to you. This can be especially true if the company has financial limitations.

Again, not every startup is like that, but it's up to you whether you're ok with the offerings or not.

Tools

In some cases, startups won't be able to provide you with the tools you need to do your job! This is pretty rare now-a-days but it can still happen and, again, it's up to you whether that's ok or not. I've had to, in the past, provide my own laptop, mouse, monitor, etc...

However, do keep in mind that, as a startup grows, they should be able to reimburse you and even buy the tools you need.

Conclusion

Don't be surprised if you have to ask about benefits and tools during the interview process (or even being hired) and there's a reason for it.

If the startup is small, under limitations, burdened to perform and everybody is wearing many hats, it is quite possible that the person or people involved in hiring you don't have the brain capacity to think about everything you might need to know, like benefits.

You might have to ask! And that's ok. It's not anyones fault. It's just that some startup environments are hectic and it's hard to keep everything in mind. Don't be afraid to ask.

That's all I got for now. I'll cover more related topics in future posts/videos.

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