A constantly changing biotech sector can make looking for a new job somewhat dicey. Biotech jobs with seasoned companies offer enough variables on their own. Jobs at startups add more uncertainty to the mix. By definition, startups are new companies just getting into the game, and they are as common in biotech as any other industry. Sometimes they succeed, other times they fail.
Admittedly, going to work for a startup can be exciting. Just being in on the ground floor of what could become an industry leader offers opportunities you wouldn’t necessarily get by taking a job with a veteran employer. By the same token, startups are risky.
Are you including startups in your search for biotech jobs? If so, ask yourself the five questions below. How you answer them will determine whether you are a good candidate for a startup.
1. Am I comfortably flexible?
As a general rule, startups do not have set processes for doing things. They may start out with a few procedures here and there, but they tend to learn as they go. Succeeding as an employee often means not only being flexible but being comfortably so. What does that mean? A flexible person is able to roll with the punches, so to speak. A comfortably flexible person can roll with the punches and not get anxious or upset. Being flexible doesn’t cause undue stress.
2. Am I willing to do any task asked of me?
Taking a job at a startup generally means being part of a skeleton crew living and working right on the edge of its resources. Startups have to control costs in every way possible, which often means limiting new hires. All this is to say that you may be asked to do things that someone in your position would not normally do at a seasoned company. Are you willing to do those things?
As time goes on and the company grows, additional hires are likely to relieve you of some of those additional responsibilities. But in the early going, you might have to wear multiple hats.
3. Can I work with limited resources and perks?
Cost savings for startups also tend to include resources. You may have to work in a bare-bones office for a while. The company might ask you to provide your own technology. And some perks – like free coffee and daily lunches – may not be available. Are you okay with that?
4. Am I willing to learn?
Many a startup attempts to foster a collaborative and mentoring environment. New hires are expected to learn. They are expected to be part of a team that learns together. If you are not willing to learn new ways of doing things, you might find startup employment challenging.
5. Am I prepared to lose my job?
Last but not least, biotech jobs are never guaranteed. Stable employment tends to be even more elusive in a startup scenario because startups are more or less business experiments to some extent. If the experiment fails, you could lose your job. The flip side of the coin is that success tends to bring plenty of reward with it. Getting in on the ground floor of a new company could have you sitting pretty in a leadership position a few years down the road. And with that position come perks.
Biotech jobs are plentiful right now. Some of those jobs are with new startups. Startup employment is not a bad deal, but it does take a particular mindset to succeed. Carefully consider that before you accept a position with a startup.