A Day in the Life: Working for a Startup
A recent Economic Times piece highlighted the story of a college graduate who turned down a six-figure salary post-graduation and opted instead to work at a startup company. While this decision may shock some, it should come to no surprise to others. Startups are some of the best places for those looking for a great experience and a change of pace. For a bit more insight for those who are unfamiliar with this type of work environment, the following includes information about a day in the life of an editor here at Words For Less, as well as a few of the rules I’ve learned to live by as a startup employee.
Rule #1: Start the Day on a Positive Note
Normally I get to the office around 8:30. I try to start my day heavily caffeinated (as a side note, the other day I Googled “are skinny vanilla lattes gluten-free?”—which is probably the most stereotypical Seattle-lite thing I’ve ever done. Turns out they aren’t). I spend the first five minutes or so of my day catching the rest of the WFL team up on celebrity gossip while I set up my workspace. Once I have my paperwork out and my monitor fired up (and the rest of my team has had enough of Kate Middleton), I start in on my to-do list.
Rule #1: Try to Stay Organized
My desk is typically covered in lists; to-do lists, lists of assignments, and lists with names and emails of our writers. I try to respond to emails first thing. We deal with a number of clients, some of whom I correspond with, but the majority of my correspondence is with writers. I spend about 45 minutes answering questions about prompts, sending out assignments, and clarifying revisions. This is also the time when I administer payments.
Rule #2: Make Goals
After that, our team will go over the priorities for the day. While the editing team here is responsible for editing a large number of guest posts, we also produce special content projects. Each one of us has several on-going projects, and at about 9:15 A.M. we go over the status of these jobs with the rest of our team.
Rule #3: Have Fun
After spending the first half of my morning on guest post edits, I check in on some of these special projects around 11:30 or noon. Sprinkled in and about these daily activities, I try to respond to our writers (who often have additional questions about submitting their assignments, clarification for sources, and more). My projects vary greatly: some clients prefer large orders of shorter articles, while others prefer longer, more in-depth articles. Other times I’m responsible not for editing an article, but for generating completely new prompts that cover everything from finance to education. As a writer, these assignments can actually be quite fun—and it’s always interesting when you edit an article and learn something new!
Rule #4: Don’t Panic
This doesn’t mean, of course, that things don’t get tough. At around 3:30 or 4:00 p.m. on busier days, I have a mini-breakdown when I realize I still have half of my to-do list left untouched. There are a few things I’ve learned about being a first-time editor, and as a results-driven person, one of the hardest to accept is that it can be (and still sometimes is) incredibly difficult to deal with the frustration of reconciling effort and outcome. Working creatively or working with words can be rewarding and exciting; but it can also be challenging when you try to work with a poorly-written or poorly-researched piece, or write about a topic you’re unfamiliar with. But this is a startup, and you learn quickly that growing professionally as a company often means growing personally as a team member. This is typically when I’ll take a 10 minute break or grab another coffee. After that, it’s back to work.
While it’s not uncommon for people here (including myself) to stay late to complete projects, I try to finish what I can by 5:15 or so. Sometimes I have additional work to do, while other times I get to go home and watch Scandal with my cat (seriously you guys, it’s an amazing show).
Rule #5: Enjoy the Ride
Jokes aside (it’s not a joke, I highly recommend you watch this show) I found this post especially difficult to write for a couple reasons; the firstmost reason being that it’s hard to detail a typical day for anyone working in a start-up, but also because it’s hard to tell where my day ends—where I feel like I finished one task and I’m ready to start another, where I go home and don’t continue worrying about or working on something, or when I leave feeling like I’ve mastered everything there is to know about my job. If any of this is making working at a startup sound like a frustrating or scary experience, great—that’s because it is. Startups require the kind of hard work and dedication that most people aren’t expected to give at every job. You don’t clock out at a start-up, nor will you find success without having a sense of ownership over everything you do. However, as a 20-something year old working for my first startup, I can honestly say it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life thus far.
Albert Einstein once said that “the only source of knowledge is experience,” and a startup is definitely one of the best places to gain this experience. While daily activities (and my never-ending to-do lists) change from time to time, one thing that never changes—and that I’m thankful to have every day—is the opportunity to continue to learn and grow.