In track and field, there is something called an “Explosive First Step”, this is when you make your first one or two strides very powerful and very fast. This applies to running in any scenario, whether it is a 100m race, a breakaway in a lacrosse game, or running for your older brother. The term is also known as your “Start-up Speed.”
Would you believe me if I told you the term Start-up for a business is derived from this running expression? Probably not, and you would be right. That isn’t to say it does not directly apply to it though, startups are extremely fast-paced.
When I first started working at Porton Health, I was very eager to get going and to start making an impact as fast as I could. Little did I know that the beginning was already going to be fast paced and I should have slowed down when I had the opportunity. When working in a startup, deadlines come and go very quickly, projects are given to you on a daily basis and you are expected to have them completed sometimes before the day ends.
One very essential part of the fast-paced culture is to keep track of what everyone is working on. there are frequent team meetings and collaborations. When a team meeting takes place, it is usually to discuss a problem or issue that arose during the day. The really cool thing about this, even though the issue is not in your usual area of expertise, is that you are included in the conversation.
You end up learning so much more and you get to provide an outside opinion, which can be really helpful when it is your problem and someone else comes up with the solution. This leads to team collaborations, at times you will have three separate collaborations with different colleagues and you have to manage when each of you are available to work together.
In my workplace, we were all very close together, there are four desks arranged in a square, a fifth on one of the corners, with the CEO in his own office. One observation I made quickly was that if I planned out the amount of work I needed to get done and then exerted the exact amount of effort required to complete in my eight-hour day, my work would never get done. Since I was so close to my colleagues, I was drawn into their work and would lean away from my responsibilities to help them. As they would do for me.
However, this meant I had to work harder to complete my required work because every day there would be something to sidetrack me. The last thing I will mention about the fast-paced work environment of a Startup is it never turns off. You are all hands on deck for 8 hours each day, when you come home you are still in that fast-paced mentality. Even as I am writing this, my head is already thinking ahead to what I have to do next (Netflix would be the answer).
The weekends do provide a break from this, but I will say to anyone thinking of pursuing a Co-op with a start-up company that it is a fantastic learning experience. Personally, I had a lot of fun. But, just be sure that you are mentally and physically prepared for the challenge.