5 Ways Startup Culture is Helping Graduates Find Their Passion

So many people graduate from college, brimming with hope and energy, all set to start a bright new career in a field they are passionate about. So many of them then lose the glimmer in their eyes, jumping from job to job after failing to find their “passion”.

The cushy corporate roles, the dead end jobs, the part-time gigs; all seem to have one thing in common — reminding the newly graduated student that they are merely an insignificant cog in the wheel.

But then, there are a few who decided against the comfortable paycheck of a corporate gig and opted to work at a startup. These are the people who get paid lesser than their peers (initially) and never have time for a night out. But funnily enough, you never hear them blaming their jobs. In fact, they’ll probably have a big smile plastered on their face when talking about work.

So, what is it about working at a startup that brings on the smile? It could that they’ve stopped searching for their passion and started nurturing it right where they are. These are five factors that could have helped.


1) It’s okay to make mistakes

When you’re working at a big corporation, mistakes are avoided like the plague. One wrong move can get you the boot. But when you’re at a startup, mistakes are embraced as learning opportunities.

While big companies have had years to perfect their workflows, business processes at startups haven’t had time to be perfected yet. You’re going to be an important part of figuring out what works and what doesn’t for your startup.

You’ll fail, stumble and often get lost in a sea of uncertainty. But like Edison said, “I didn’t fail. I found 2000 ways how not to make a lightbulb”. And although the authenticity of the quote is argued, the idea behind it is strongly embraced.


2) You’ll try on different hats

Unlike a big corporation where conforming to your role is the norm, working at a startup means that you’ll be expected go beyond your designation. If you always wanted to try on different hats to find the one that fits, this is the perfect opportunity.

There is always room for new ideas and if you realise you’re better suited for a different role there’s always room to fit you in.


3) Every day brings new challenges

What you’re doing has probably never been done before. Yes, there’ll be a lot of influencers offering really great advice. But when you get down to brass tacks, you’re going to have to come up with your own way of doing things. And working in a small team means that you’re mistakes are easily spotted. But it also means that your achievements are noticed and praised.

It can get overwhelming when you’re doing your own thing and facing a myriad of new challenges. But when all’s said and done, the rewards more than make up for it. You’re going to be the person who took on an unknown foe and came out the other side, unscathed and successful.


4) You’ll find the meaning you’re craving for

Not every life has a singular meaning to be searched and found. We have to find that meaning all around us, in everything that we do. If you’re at a job whose very memory you want to expunge at the end of the day till you have to go through the drudge again the next day, it’s safe to suffice that you’re still searching for your meaning.

That’s why you need to work at a place where you can own what you do, where your ideas are heard, where you are accountable for your mistakes and your success.

When you’re in a startup, everything you do can be directly traced to how it affects the company. That level of transparency makes you feel like an important part of the big picture and not just another cog in the wheel.


5) You’ll handle more responsibilities

There is no room to slack off when you’re working in a team that mostly amounts to single digits. Each one of those people are there because they have a particular skill set on offer that is essential to getting things done. You’ll be expected to learn more about the skill that makes you valuable and come up with new and better ways to get things done.

Working at a startup means you never have more free time because you got good at one thing, it just means that you have more time to dedicate to perfecting the next skill.


There are a lot of cool things about working at a startup. But it’s not a shortcut to happiness. In fact most of the time you’ll be far from being happy. You’ll be tired, anxious, frustrated and often become a nervous wreck wondering if your ideas are worth a dime.

There’s a quote from TheOatmeal that sums it up perfectly; “Being “happy” implies permanence. It implies you completed all the prerequisites. And now you get to sit atop your giant pile of happy forever.”

So if you want the permanence of happiness you’d do better watching TV on your couch. But, if you want meaning, if you want passion; you might consider working for a startup.


Augustus is founder and CEO of CallHub, a California-based startup bridging the communication gap for political campaigns and advocacy groups. When he is not working, he is either making toys with his kids or training for a marathon. Reach him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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