Contemplating careers: startups
February 5, 2009 5 Comments
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.
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.