International startup careers


Why Working in a Startup is The Best Choice for Expats

Not everybody will agree with me but I'm convinced that working in a startup is the best choice when you move abroad. I promise, it brings tons of advantages for your career.

Working in a startup can either be the best choice you’ll ever make or only the most disappointing. Depending on your current life situation startup jobs may fit you better or less. But when it comes to moving abroad, working in a startup very often is the easiest way to go. And regarding the fact that only in Europe around 52k new startups are founded each year, there will always be jobs.

But how do you know whether a startup company is the right choice for you? It’s not easy to tell from the very beginning. The best thing to do first is to check for the pros and cons of startup jobs and see how you feel about them. So, let’s go!

Pros and Cons of Working in Startups

working in startups pros cons

Before getting deeper into the pros and cons of working in a startup, let’s answer the most important question first: What is a startup? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a startup is “a small business that has just been started”. The most important aspects that bring the advantages and disadvantages here are “small business” and “just started”. Let’s get more into detail.

I’m sure you know that you’ll not earn the same way working for a young startup or a corporate company; startup salaries are quite low in general, no matter which degree you have. Also, the work load usually is a lot higher, and as only around 10% of startups are successful each year, the job security is not fully given.

You wonder why I shoot those bad aspects first? Just because that’s it on the negative side. Working in a startup brings so many advantages. Especially if you just graduated from university, taking a startup job is a unique experience that opens you an incredible amount of opportunities:

  • You get a lot of responsibility from day 1.
  • Most of the time, there’s nobody supervising you.
  • You get the chance to bring ideas and test different approaches freely.
  • You don’t only learn a lot about the job you're doing, but also about yourself, what you like or don’t like.
  • You improve your organization skills to get the right work-life-balance.
  • If you are interested in the whole startup world, you will get the opportunity to talk to many entrepreneurs and learn from them.
  • You can have flexible working hours and work remotely.
  • Your chances to fast reach a senior position are much higher in a startup than in a corporate company.
  • And last but not least: Some of your team members become your second family and best friends.

Never forget: a startup intends to grow large. If you’re there from the beginning, your chances to reach a managing position very fast are super high.

Does this sound interesting to you? Keep reading to get more info about startup jobs and find out what the so-called “startup mindset” is about.

What are Common Startup Jobs for Expats?

startup jobs

In a freshly founded international startup the most common job openings are in the field of Business Development and Sales as these positions are the most important ones for a young business to set foot in a new country. If you’re lucky, you can also find a marketing position, but these ones are rare in very young companies. Your chances to get a job in marketing are higher in companies that are older than 2 years as they start raising more money, expanding internationally faster, and therefore opening marketing positions in their team instead of hiring agencies.

Apart from this, as I’m never lying to you, the probability of getting a full-time job straight away is quite low (except you already have experience and the company is a bit older). This means, usually you start with an internship that in most cases turns into a full-time contract. I know, it’s not the best option, but if you’re really into the mission of your chosen company, it’s definitely worth it!

How to Find Work in a Startup?

Once you start looking for a job, job boards are always the first thing you check. As startup jobs – especially tech startup jobs – require very specific profiles, you’ll find job boards specialized on only these small businesses. Our Next Station favorite, if you want to work in Paris, is Welcome to the Jungle. Most of their job offers will be French but you can also find German startup jobs or english-speaking ones. If you rather feel like moving to Germany and work in Berlin, have a look at Berlin Startup Jobs. Of course, I won’t start naming all the job boards here, but there are many more, especially in startup cities like Paris and Berlin.

Sooner or later you might realize that only looking on job boards is not enough. The most important thing, and even more if you want to push your career in a startup, is networking. And the top networking channel is… exactly, LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you should not only look for job openings but also start to follow your favorite startups, connect with people who already work there and simply take the initiative and send requests. The chances that someone answers you are much higher than in an enterprise where nobody ever has time to talk to strangers ;).

And last but not least: don’t forget to sign up on the Next Station platform. More than 50% of our partners are startups that are looking for international teammates. The sign up process only takes around 10 minutes. You tell us where you want to go, in which field you want to work, and what experience you already have – be precise with the last one! Voilà! Now you wait for us to get back to you with fitting job offers.

How to Apply for a Startup Job?

startup job interview

Yes, there’s indeed a difference between job applications for a startup or an SME or large enterprise. The hiring process in a startup may be very quick and with only few formalities.

If you apply for a newly founded startup, your personality is the top priority. You will be one of the first employees and probably stay in the company for a while, so the chemistry has to fit. That’s why your CV or cover letter should be outstanding and reflect your personality. Try to break out of the usual rules a bit; be creative and show what makes you special. Just be yourself.

Check our advice on how to write a resume and cover letter and how to make your resume a masterpiece if you need more input.

If you don’t know in which language you should write your application, English is always a safe choice (unless the job posting explicitly requires another one!).

Now, what comes next after your application? To me it always happened that I got a spontaneous first phone call that led to a video interview (as I was not in the same country). If this goes well, you will be invited to the office to meet everybody in person.

I also heard that it happens more and more often that you are invited for a coffee or a drink to have an informal interview (sometimes even on short notice). This kind of interview feels unfamiliar in the beginning but it also takes away a bit of the pressure that you usually experience before a job interview.

When it comes to the dress code, your choice of clothes can be casual but should still look professional. The right outfit is the first step to ace your job interview. But again, be yourself! Don’t try to pretend to be someone you’re not. Either they’ll see it or you won’t be happy in the company in the end.

What is the So-called “Startup Mindset”?

work in a startup skills

As you see, working in a startup is different to other companies and most likely not everybody will like it. In other words, not everyone is made to work in a startup environment. That’s why, in nearly every startup job offer you read that the perfect candidate should have a “startup mindset”. What does that even mean? I asked my team and here’s what you need in our eyes to say that you have a startup mindset:

  1. You like to have responsibilities and know how to drive things with less guidance.
  2. You know how to motivate yourself, are curious, and a fast-learner.
  3. You are team-oriented, but able to work on your own.
  4. You are open to changes and can easily adapt (flexibility).
  5. You are committed and not prone to frustration. – Oh yes, this one is super important.
  6. You feel comfortable with having less hierarchy.
  7. You are innovative-creative, want to try out things and improve processes.

Maybe you don’t need all of these characteristics, but let’s say 5 out of 7 is the minimum to enjoy working in a startup and have fun at work. And of course, this is only our opinion, but you should always keep in mind that working in a startup is not about having a job only to earn money – you will rather have to live on a budget. It’s about passion and commitment. If you want to convince yourself, just try it and ;).

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