Creating Impact as One of the First Hires in a Startup
24 March, 2022
Joining a Startup as the Seventh Employee
I was hired as the seventh employee at a company I worked for. Now the organization has over 250 employees and continues to grow. I started as a developer, moved to become a small team leader, and now have become a VP of engineering. Through the progression, I became more self-aware and learned about the inner workings of a company.
Beginning my career, I knew I wanted to work within a startup. I had previous experience as a developer in a startup that closed and connected with a CEO through LinkedIn. My initial interview took place at a bar with the CEO and co-founder. The co-founder and I had a far-off familial relationship, as I realized her last name was the same as my grandmother's. I leveraged my connection to build a relationship with the co-founder and finally landed the role.
Moving From Developer to Team Lead
Starting as a Developer:
The company began hiring once it became successful enough to compensate employees. I was one of these lucky candidates, but I quickly realized that they lacked software and tools for their developers. I was a bit surprised as my previous role in a startup was more up-to-date regarding the tech we used.
I was constantly impressed that our company could keep such large clients with old-school tools and coding. As we began having more and more success, we began recruiting a few more developers. To compensate for the new employees, I stepped up to become a manager of the small team.
Being a New Manager:
My management experience was overall very positive. The team grew to become a technical group of 10-15 developers. As it grew, I realized that my company was hiring more technically skilled individuals than I was. This may have led to some discernment, but I knew that I wasn't required to be the most senior engineer in the room as a tech lead.
During this time, I worked to broaden my skill set. Rather than being highly skilled in one department or area, I opened myself up to other areas to become a more versatile leader. I believe that I preferred the role of a manager because of my adaptability; I could hire the experts rather than be the experts.
Insights on Joining a Newly Established Startup
- Being self-aware is a key skill in joining a startup as a beginning employee. Understanding the possible volatile environment of the startup world is essential; those that have many financial responsibilities may not be cut out to work at a startup.
- Working at a small startup makes it easy to understand how everything is working and get insight into running a company. You may attend meetings outside of your department, which also helps broaden your scope.
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