In Montreal, it seems like there’s a new startup popping up every other week. This sort of business often appeals to twenty-somethings because it’s got the allure of a small business with the promise of great things to come, compounded with a sense of modernity and freshness. Startups can be a good fit for recent graduates, or people looking to gain experience in a new field. But if you’re looking for a job in Montreal, there may be some extra factors to consider before jumping on the startup bandwagon.
Startups, like any other kind of business, are not exempt from their share of employment horror stories. The most basic thing, when applying for any job really, is not to underestimate yourself. Even if you don’t have prior experience, you deserve a fair wage for the work that you agree to, and this work should be clearly outlined. Many young people see startups as a place where they can apply practical use to the skills they’ve recently learned in university and are willing to prove their worth. But the company needs to do the same for you.
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If you’re four months in and are working the phone lines, after you were promised a position in communications then something is wrong. It’s one thing to have attainable goals. It’s something else entirely to be busting your back every day for the promise of a position that doesn’t even exist yet. Don’t be scared to follow-up with your employers, and don’t be scared to look for something else if they can’t follow through.
It goes without saying that the same thing applies to fair wages. Many startups will ask that their employees work for very little while they get things going. If this is the case, make sure that you're being realistic. Don't be too eager to quit your day job, and make sure you are passionate about what you're doing. Remember that you deserve to be fairly compensated, especially if you're putting in a lot of work to get the startup off the ground.
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If you find yourself lined up with an interview at a startup, do your research: see if the company is on glassdoor.ca, ask around and see if a friend of a friend or anyone you might know has had experience with them. While it might not seem relevant to getting a job, check out their customer reviews. Often you can gauge how organized and well-managed a company is (and how long it might be around) by seeing how they treat their customers. After you’ve learned a bit about them, go into the interview with a list of questions. Make sure you know what kind of position you’re interviewing for, how much it pays, and get a concrete description of the daily operations of the position for which you are applying. These things might seem obvious, but when you’re in an interview, it’s easy to shy away from the big questions.
Every business is a bit different, and every employee or former employee will have a different experience. There’s a lot to be excited about when considering a job at a startup but just don’t let those rose-coloured glasses cloud your judgement.