Before I tell you why working at a startup after graduation is possibly the best career path you can take, I need to give you a backgrounder.
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a very serious addiction… to shoes. Despite the trials and tribulations of this addiction (diminishing bank account, embarrassing drooling, etc.), I have learned to embrace it, and, dare I say, flaunt it! Unfortunately, while I would love to offer a home to all the lonely “soles” found in shoe stores worldwide, I have always struggled with finding boots that fit properly, as I have what I like to call, “soccer calves” which are a nightmare to try and squeeze into boots. Not pleasant, to say the least!
Luckily for me, a wonderful friend of mine knew of my wide calf boot fit issues/shoe addiction and suggested that I check out this brand new startup company called Poppy Barley, “You will absolutely love it, it’s a made to measure shoe company that allows you to design your own boots!” Mmmmm yes please!
As I began to research the startup and browse through the various styles available, I fell in love with the brand, and one style in particular—The Classic Riding Boot. After a month of begging and pleading, I was beside myself with excitement on Christmas morning when I pulled a Poppy Barley gift card from my stocking. Shopping time!
Although it’s hard to believe, my love and excitement for Poppy Barley reached a whole new level when I received and zipped up my new boots (the moment, pictured left) – the first pair of boots to actually fit my calves! Hooray!
After this wonderful (and honestly, life altering) experience, I knew I would be a customer for life, but I also knew that I wanted to be so much more.
Fortunately, one fateful evening while sitting on my couch, I saw the words, “Poppy Barley is looking for a Customer Care Associate” on the Poppy Barley Facebook page. Long story short, I was lucky enough to be chosen – *insert heel clicks here* (a phrase one of our lovely customers introduced us to, and one that we think pretty much sums up the Poppy Barley experience).
True, the “Customer Insights Associate” position I accepted was not the same as the “Customer Care Associate” position I had applied for. Instead, I learned one of my favourite aspects of working at a startup company: Progress is a core value.
Working at a startup allows for flexibility, and the company adapts to change very quickly, rather than being slowed down by bureaucracy. During my interview process I stressed my love of data analysis and marketing research alongside my love of interacting with people. With a marketing and finance background to support my claims (I graduated with a business degree in marketing and finance from the University of Alberta in 2012), the founders, Justine and Kendall, decided to evolve the position to include both customer service and statistics, and so the Customer Insights position was born. I was delighted and beyond impressed with this newfound flexibility and focus on progress in a startup company.
As I mentioned, I have a background in finance (yes, I am admittedly a huge spreadsheet dork), and one of the major principles I learned through my finance studies is that risk is positively related with reward (the higher the risk, the higher the potential for reward). True, working at a startup is inherently more risky than working at a large, well-established company, but this leads me to my next reason why I love working at a startup: there is a greater chance for reward, and that reward is prosperity through company growth. By working at a startup, you have the opportunity to literally steer the exact career path you hope to take as the company grows. Within my first few weeks of working for Poppy Barley, the founders, Kendall and Justine, began asking me things like: “What do you see yourself doing here in a year? What projects do you love doing? Hate doing? What projects stay on your desk the longest?” The thought of actually being able to dictate and morph my position into exactly what I love is beyond exciting, as it is almost unheard-of for a new grad (especially for new grads working at large companies, who instead get lost “climbing the bureaucratic ladder”).
The final, and perhaps, most compelling reason why I love working at a startup, stems from the fact that I don’t work for just any startup – I work for Poppy Barley. As I alluded to earlier, I am a shoe addict with fit issues, so I am beyond passionate about the company’s mission: to make it easy to wear beautiful shoes that fit you perfectly and are built to last. I am also beyond passionate about, and blessed to be surrounded by, some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Whether it is interacting with our amazing customers, chatting with the talented team we have down in León, or working side by side with our Edmonton team of the five most intelligent and hilarious people I have ever met, I can honestly say I am the luckiest recent grad out there. I mean, doesn’t this look like a close-knit family, or at least like a TV show you would watch?!
It’s hard to believe that I have now been working at a startup and a part of the Poppy Barley team for five months – it has been the most rewarding and enjoyable experience ever, and something I could have never imagined as a recent grad. To all other recent grads out there, I strongly encourage you to check out the startup scene – you will be surrounded by progress, prosperity, passion, and meet/learn from some of the most amazing, driven people out there.
Best of luck!
-Breanne, Customer Insights