#OliveSavvy: Why Every Young Person Should Work for a Tech Startup

#OliveSavvy is all about starting a conversation about tech innovation, fellow startups, and entrepreneurship. For our first Wednesday post, we wanted to talk about the value of being a part of a tech startup!

As a young millennial, late nights of scrolling through the “jobs” section on LinkedIn can often feel like grasping at straws. You’ve built up the ambition to finally put yourself out there, but a new question has surfaced. Where is “there?” Do you throw your hat into the overflowing application pool for those shiny corporations? You think to your young self, wouldn't that be cool?! But it feels unrealistic. Maybe something more familiar will provide guidance, but you then you feel like you’re not pushing yourself.  There has to be somewhere you can learn, put your talents to good use, and do something more meaningful than keeping superiors caffeinated.

After my first week at Olive Devices, I found the answer.  A tech startup. It happened on a whim, but I have learned more, contributed more, and worked harder in a few days than I had at a major, well known production company. I am convinced that in every young person’s career journey, one destination is required: working for a startup.

Spoiler Alert: It takes hard work. And then even harder work. 

Working hard to succeed is not a business secret. It’s a fact of life. As an Ivy League student and collegiate softball player, I thought I was clued in to one of life’s clearest examples of cause and effect more than anyone. Then, I started at Olive Devices and discovered that no one works harder than entrepreneurs of a budding business. Within minutes of joining, a coworker and I had playfully exchanged jokes about saying goodbye to sleep. Except we weren’t joking. There’s almost an underlying competition going on to see who can work the hardest. And that’s a great thing. At a tech startup, there are no teacher’s pets, no slackers, no one guy always quoting Bill Gates to justify laziness. Everyone is eager to get things done, and that’s because beginnings are exciting. What young person at the beginning of his own career would not want to experience that?

You will discover your head is made for multiple hats. 

There is always something to do. There is no worrying about wasting company time at a startup. In the beginning phase of a new company there is an endless amount of tasks and a small amount of bodies to do them. You learn you can do more than what your major, title, or degree says you can on paper. How liberating is that? Within one week, I’ve been able to wear the hat of social media intern, screenwriter/storyboarder, photographer, designer, blogger, hashtag creator, researcher, journalist, and any second there will be a new hat to try on. The other day, I overheard the sentence, “I taught myself how to be a business woman in four months.” At a tech startup, you find out fairly quickly that learning new things and discovering new abilities is just another day at the office.

Passion is required. Opinion is welcomed. Transparency is necessary.

Time is a startup’s worst enemy, constantly slipping away. I’m pretty confident in my working theory that more startups would succeed if there were 48 hours in the day. Unfortunately, we are limited to a mere 24 to accomplish what matters, big and small. As a result, your opinion not only matters but has a real impact. This is a statement many young people are told for reassurance, but it possesses more sincerity in the environment of a startup. A yes man will not help get more funding, get the name out there, or improve the technology. Nothing is pre established, so your opinion is both wanted and needed, which comes with a responsibility not everyone gets to experience. And the good news is if you care about and believe in the startup you’re working for, your instincts rarely fail you. Passion is Olive Devices’ most efficient fuel.  

A small team equals a trusting team with real relationships.

One thing that sets the leaders of startups apart from some other superiors is that they lead by example. Interns are not the only ones doing grunt work. Everyone is. But in turn, everyone is also doing meaningful work. Working at a startup means working closely with bosses who are allowing you to help them create something that is profound to them. This is their baby, and you and everyone else involved only wants to see it grow. They’ve dropped everything to pour their heart and soul into this project, so it’s not hard to find motivation to help out. When I worked for a production company, I was told, “It takes an army to make a movie,” and while this was exciting, it came accompanied with a sense of detachment. What was I really doing as a foot soldier? If a startup were an army, every soldier would get access to the general’s tent and input on the plan. And then the whole army gets to take a break and eat lunch together, since lunch time is bonding and relaxation time.

You learn how to put yourself out there.

The very first thing I did on the job at Olive Devices is come up with event theme ideas during a one-on-one brainstorming session with the COO. Now, that’s a scary sentence. But the beauty of jumping into a startup is jumping into an environment that requires trying, trying, and trying again from everyone. There are not many “wrong” answers when it comes to creating something new; just ideas that don’t stick and ideas that finally do. Working for a tech startup is working in place that eliminates a fear of failure. If that existed, the startup would not have made it past a single idea. Building means putting worries and hesitation aside in order to do. Every day we are seeing what works and what doesn’t, but that involves having to try those things that don’t work. I can’t think of anything more valuable for a young person than learning to be willing to fail in order to be successful.

There is NOTHING more rewarding. 

Working for a startup that truly wants to improve the lives of others and positively impact the world is like nothing else. For Olive Devices, hearing people’s excitement over how the smart glasses can change their lives is inspiring. All the hours you spend working and the roadblocks you face every day feel more than worth it when you realize what your work can do for people. You get to be a part of the creation of something you really believe in, and honestly, there is no guarantee it will work out. Because of this, when good things do happen and your work pays off, it is extremely rewarding and invigorating.


Yours Truly,

Molly Oretsky

Molly Oretsky