Contemplating careers: startups

Stanford often seems synonymous with startups. Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley and bursting at the seams with smart, driven individuals, it’s no surprise that starting a company can be just a day in the life of a typical graduate student. And if we don’t start a company, there are dozens that we can join. Here, there is no stubborn expectation that Ph.D. students will pursue tenure-track academic positions. Many do (about 50% in my department), but just as many go on to do other things related to science, and they are fruitful, and multiply.

Photo by balakov on Flickr

For me, joining a startup as my next step could be a no-brainer; after all, I’m here, I’m young, and I have relatively few responsibilities. I don’t need job security, I need experience. I like being able to dive into details while having the freedom to think about the big picture. I don’t want to be a cog in the big machine, I want to look at the machine, poke at different parts of it, and help build it into something better. I’d like to try as many things as possible. Sounds like a startup to me.

But it has to be the right startup. I think it’s safe to say that you don’t half-ass working at a startup, so it has to be for something I will love telling people about. Something that gets me jazzed up. Something that I can believe in, and that I can contribute to.

Now I just have to find one that believes in me as well.


5 Responses to Contemplating careers: startups

  1. Deepak says:

    And when you do, it will be a blast. Hard work, frustrating at times, but a blast.

  2. True dat. I miss my short-lived startup days…

  3. Go ahead!! I am not so young, have a familiy and need job security, but I am thinking of setting up a new (bio)informatics startup, and your words summarize perfectly what I feel. Unfortunatedly, southern Spain is not Standford (for startups, I mean, we also have good food, good weather and beautiful scenery ;-), but I think I will give it a try. And you should too. From what I have read from/about you, you are the kind of person that makes a difference. Good luck!!

  4. Heather Piwowar says:

    Startups are fun :)

    Shirley, I have a lead for you. I worked for Precision Therapeutics for a few years. Fascinating stuff, and definitely something to believe in. Not a tiny startup any more, but still small, nimble, and growing fast. They’re looking for a senior bioinformaticist. It might be a great fit. Let me know if you are interested…. I can give you more info, an inside recommendation, and reasons why living in Pittsburgh is really fun. I know the hiring manager from way back: GREAT guy and fantastic boss.


  5. Pingback: Bioinformatics | Creating a company

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