Startups: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Posted: November 2, 2011 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives
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Attention undergraduates: at a certain point before you graduate, you will job search. I know you don’t want to think about it between that fourth bag of wine you funneled this weekend and that third hit of that 6 foot bong, but it’s coming and very soon you’ll have to put on that suit you saved for your uncle’s funeral for a new kind of final farewell: the job interview marking the end of your carefree college days.

Now, I could give you a big list of no-fun don’ts on job searching that you could get from Career Services (don’t tweet complaints about work, don’t upload photos of yourself setting the keg stand record, don’t tell your interviewer that her glasses make her look like a sexy librarian, etc.), but I have more important pre-career advice: make sure you really look into that awesome startup offering you that fancy title and X-box down time.

They’re totally cool though, right? They wear jeans and t-shirts, work a “flexible” schedule and are just about to get that sweet investment that will pay your salary. You can wait for that investment though before they pay you, right? They’ll totally give you equity and those student loans won’t kick in for another six months, so you’re flexible.

Don’t get me wrong; I work for a startup. But, it took taking jobs at three different companies in order to get to the right one and there was a long, painful period where I wasn’t sure if my rent check was going to clear without a sizeable loan from my parents. Life after college really sucks if you find yourself suddenly and unexpectedly jobless and terrified you’re going to have to find a third job in less than six months.

Here are a few warning signs that the startup offering you your dream job probably isn’t the sweet deal you think it is:

  1. They didn’t ask to see your résumé. But, but, but you got hired on reputation! They just recognized your mad skillz and thought you were totally dope based on that reference from your group partner from computer science. Maybe they were your partner in computer science, but they don’t know shit about your capabilities and are making hasty decisions cause, “Wow, you mocked up that website real quick bro.”
  2. That investment is totally coming in, any day now, they swear. Until they have that check in the bank, that money is not there; it does not exist for you. Do not take a job that is dependent on an investment until the ink is dry, or you’ll find yourself accepting a job, finding an apartment, setting up your bills and then out on your ass after three weeks, stuck in a city you only wanted to be in for the job and miserable when your significant other lives eight hours away.
  3. That’s a really awesome title, and salary, and they have the money. What schmucks! They’re overpaying you! You’re right out of school and some idiot wants to overpay you for a job you aren’t qualified for? You’re working for an idiot. Get out now before the company tanks and you’re left crying outside because you and your boss weren’t cut out for running a company.
  4. We’ll totally give you equity, bro. Equity doesn’t pay the bills and unless you really believe in the company, don’t work for equity alone or you might just end up like that guy in “The Social Network” whose girlfriend lit his bed on fire. Fuck that.
  5. They can’t explain what they do in less than 30 seconds. Every good startup knows what they’re doing, has a path and a plan. The really crappy ones have this amazing idea, dude, and they’re going to revolutionize how dog breeders find semen, but can’t really explain how and haven’t set benchmarks to get there.

So go into the world young Padawans, now that you can separate the dark holes of startup sucktitude from the ones that will be shining stars of Internet freedom. You can go back to your Keystone Light now. Pretty soon you’ll be decanting red wine before releasing it into a spittoon. If you think the hangovers are bad now, just wait until you hit the mid-twenties…


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