Sunday, May 12, 2013

The potential risks of working for a startup

As anyone can imagine, working for a startup has huge risks:  big upside but also big downside.  Due to its very nature, no one can know for sure how successful a startup will be; much of it depends on a combination of quality of the product, execution, market forces, and luck.  There is also risks as it pertains to MBA admissions.

Unlike applicants who work at blue chip firms such as Mckinsey, BCG, Goldman Sachs, Google, etc., startups are unknown quantities to adcom.  Since they receive so many applicants from aforementioned companies, they know exactly what they're getting.  They know more or less what type of work they do, responsibilities, meaning of job titles, projects, etc.  This makes it easier for applicants from those firms to pass the screening test. 

In contrast, adcom will have a lot of questions when they see an applicant working at a startup.  The rather amorphous unknown nature of a startup often leads adcom to wonder whether the applicant's work is actually substantive or fluff.  Unless it received funding and generated consistent revenues, will adcom be impressed?  More specifically, in my case, is the work I'm doing at the startup going to help me go from the pain of rejection to the ecstasy of acceptance in the next 6-8 months?  I'm really unsure since the startup is still in the early development phases, and it will be at least 3-4 months before we start seeing any meaningful impact.  This is one of the biggest concerns I have going forward with my candidacy, along with the fact that I worked at a no-name financial firm where the partners basically ripped off the employees during bonus time.  But that's a different topic altogether, and it's something I have no control over. 


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