I've been on and off when it comes to startup jobs and I'm currently freelancing. I made the conscious choice to avoid corporate jobs ever since I went through my first one. I was maybe a bit hasty and maybe it wasn't the best context, but I felt restricted and unhappy. I didn't feel like I fully embraced the slow-paced structure and the inordinate amount of office politics.
I then took several full-time jobs with startups, but even then, I didn't feel like I was reaching my full potential. I've recently quit to start my own venture in recruitment and I still have a few contracts going on that I really like--and I can candidly offer the pluses and minuses of it all.
I love writing. It's a huge hobby of mine, but sadly it won't really pay the bills. I do it anyways with no realistic expectation that it'll ever become enough to sustain my living wage.
People say "do what you love", but as it turns out, there's a harder truth attached to that statement. "To do what you love, you have to do a lot of things you hate." To put myself in the position where I can write about interesting topics, I've had to take a lot of unpaid commissions, and spent a lot of sleepness nights doing work that has no obvious short-term benefit.
There's a host of minuses here.
- You work much harder than anybody in a corporate job for less money.
- You can be taken advantage of if people can smell that you're not in it for short-term profit.
- It's a very unstable lifestyle doing what you love, with lots of highs, lots of lows, and few in-betweens.
- It's hard sometimes to adjust to the constant changes and lack of entrenched network. One of my big regrets is that my university friends have largely moved on from the city and now I don't stay in any place long enough to create the same solid network of friends. I live very close to my alma mater and last time I visited, there was the same graduation tent I had departed two years previously. It felt like I had left a lot behind.
Now, for the pluses:
- The conditions really make you learn fast. You have to learn and work hard to get ahead when you're on your own. I've learned more in these last two years than in my entire life about how the world really works
- I'm a lot closer to doing what I love for a living than a lot of my peers, even if I might be paid less. I don't hold their same fear of crossing the chasm since I already have.
- I have had a host of unique experiences and relationships that would have been impossible if I'd have chosen the same corporate route.
At the end of the day, it's been a rougher road, but I wouldn't trade it for a corporate job. Tis the "road less travelled", but truth be told, it feels to me like experiences are what life is all about, and I'd rather have that then a host of useless material things, and a sense of being unfulfilled.