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If you’re like me, maybe you’re wondering if it’s in your best interest to work in the safe environment of a big corporate where you have the chance to climb up the ladder, both career-wise and financially. Or maybe you should live while you’re young and enjoy the learning opportunities and flexibility that working at a startup offers?
If you are having similar thoughts, maybe you should take a few minutes to read this story.
As the person responsible for marketing & communication at Alberts, I took the time to sit down with some of my colleagues. I asked them about their thoughts and experiences so far when it comes to executing our mission to make healthy food more accessible. And who knows better what it’s like to work for a startup than the people who are doing just that, right now, while you’re reading this?
Here’s a short video introducing the Alberts Team!
What’s It Like Working at a Startup?
During my chat with Alberts’ team, I introduced my colleagues to four myths about startups. Ready for their honest, unedited opinions?
Myth #1: Working at a startup may not come with major job security, but what is certain is that your learning curve will fly through the roof.
Sten: “When I quit my first job to join Alberts, I knew I was giving up a certain level of job security. It’s always there in the back of your mind. But I never felt like it would be over soon. Internally, we speak openly about budgets and planning, and that instills the necessary confidence.
Maarten: “The pace at which you grow while working at a startup is completely up to you. Everybody is continuously educating themselves. There is no mentor to point you in the right direction, no one to ask for advice. So you are the one to determine the steepness of your learning curve.”
Lenny: “I never had any doubt whether Alberts would make it. I do realize I am replaceable as a student, but that’s the case in companies of any size.”
Eva: “As a student working at Alberts, I also feel that my place within the startup is not a given. This might be due to the fact that, among other things, it’s hard to estimate whether you’re on the right track and whether you’re still needed tomorrow. On the other hand, it helps to put things in perspective. In the short period I’ve been part of this team, I have learned a lot more on a professional and personal level than the previous companies I worked for. I get to apply the theory from school in the context of the real world. And I get to work with everyone, from marketing to the hardware development team, to make it happen.”
Simon: “Working for Alberts on a temporary basis has taught me a lot more than would be possible at a bigger corporation. And as the company grows, the team will grow. So let’s see what the future has in store.”
Myth #2: Working at a startup equals change – every day is different, you don’t have a fixed job description, and priorities shift all the time.
Maarten: “Every day is, in fact, different. You help to create structure by planning your own work. Sometimes it happens that you have to drop what you’re doing for something more urgent. But I don’t need a fixed planning.”
Eva: “At a more mature company, you’ll probably get a list with things that need to be done by a certain date. At Alberts, my job is rather an open question. Make an app. And the rest is up to you.”
Merijn: “The fact that the course we’re going can change often has pros and cons. It can happen that your work turns out to be unnecessary, but on the other hand there is always room for new ideas that might not have been included in the original plan.”
Wouter: “Working at a startup can be chaotic sometimes. There are no guidelines, no clear job description. Deadlines have a tendency to move around, sometimes you have to step up a gear. But the flexibility they ask, they give back as well.”
Sten: “Sometimes I do miss the structure that incumbents offer. At a startup, you’ll often get the answer: “we’ll see what happens”. I do love the variety of my job, which has changed almost completely from when I started here more than two years ago. It’s always exciting to see what comes next!”
Myth #3: Working at a startup, you make long days sometimes. Everyone is a vital part to the team. You simply have to work hard, because you are most likely hired to do something no one else can.
Maarten: “I know I am a very dedicated employee. It’s easy, because this is what I like to do. What I do in my free time, is what I do here. Being part of a team where everybody takes responsibility and is happy to contribute leads to everyone being grateful for what the others achieved.”
Sten: “It happens that we have deadlines that force us to work until midnight. But there is the flexibility to start a bit later or leave earlier on another day. I choose this flexibility over structure when it comes down to it. And it works, too. We built the machines that are now in the field from scratch. To see the result of your hard work is priceless.”
Eva: “There is a lot of work. Which is a good thing, because you’ll never get bored!”
Simon: “You’re always busy when you’re working at a startup, which is good because I can’t sit still. And if we make long days, seeing the result in the end makes it worthwhile every time.”
Lenny: “At Alberts, everyone works their asses off. Especially the founders, they work day and night. It’s inspiring to see how hard they work for an idea they believe in. They don’t expect the same dedication from their team, but rather look to the future and ask for only as much flexibility as they give.”
Wouter: “When there’s a deadline, it’s all hands on deck. So if there’s a road block, you’ve gotta try and fix it yourself. But of course, you’re still part of a team. If I see a solution to a problem someone else is working on, I’ll tell them. In return, I get the flexibility to plan my own day. At previous companies I worked for, I didn’t get such freedom.”
Myth #4: You don’t join a startup for the salary, but because you believe in an idea that will change the world for the better.
Merijn: “Of course, you should at least believe in the company’s vision. You can worry about salary later. I mean, for me, I believe that the product will become profitable eventually. And when you join the company from the beginning, I think it is safe to assume that you’ll benefit from that in the end.”
Sten: “You don’t start the job this early just for the salary. You join an early-stage startup to be there from the beginning, to build something together.”
Lenny: “I joined Alberts as a student to earn some extra pocket money. It didn’t bother me that my classmates said they earned more in their summer jobs than me. I had, and am still having, a great time and get a lot of opportunities at Alberts. Another fact is that, as a student, you are likely to have more impact on the company’s growth when you work at a startup. And Alberts has a noble cause that I believe in 100%.”
Maarten: “I don’t think I’d earn more elsewhere, to be honest. I also feel like the work I’m doing is meaningful. I contribute to the society, and that’s worth something, too.”
Why should people join the Alberts Team?
After asking my colleagues what it’s like working for a startup, I also inquired if they’d recommend their own friends to work for our startup, for Alberts, based on their own experience.
Maarten: “Alberts is a stable, yet fast-growing startup with a fantastic team! We are always open for a bit of fun. Sometimes we meet up outside of the company: we’re more than colleagues, we’re friends.”
Merijn: “We may not have a table tennis corner like some other startups, but we have an awesome workshop with cool tools to make stuff, also for yourself. The boys here love that!”
Sten: “I love the openness, also in the interaction with our bosses. In the end, they are only two years older than me. They’re friends. And together, we’re gonna take over the world!”
Simon: “Alberts has two big benefits: first, the founders are great guys to work for and second, you are working on a great mission. And that’s really all you need.”
Lenny: “Working at a startup teaches you to think for yourself. You educate yourself. You get out of your comfort zone. I think it could be a positive experience for any student.”
Eva: “Everybody working at Alberts gives it their all. If you’re an initiative-taker, want to work cross-departmental, and are able to bring structure in your own work, than you’ll feel right at home at Alberts. And when in doubt, just email them.”
Alberts is a young, dynamic startup based in Antwerp (Belgium) with the mission to shake up the food landscape with an innovative product: the Alberts Smoothie Station.
We call our team members rockstars, because we think they rock for contributing to a healthier world. We are looking for several rockstars with as common denominators: commitment, authenticity and some wittiness.
Just take a look on our job page or email us your CV and motivation explaining how you can contribute to the band… I mean team.