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Every developer and tester should get experience at a startup at some time in their career -- at the right point. Software startups are more prevalent than other types of new businesses because an application doesn't cost a lot of money to get off the ground compared to a physical innovation that must be manufactured. All a software startup needs is the right programmer or developer, which is why it will court the proper candidate.
There are a lot of drawbacks to careers in startups, too. Don't expect to leave the office at five; there is often more work and fewer people to do it than at established companies. The startup culture has a reputation for being freewheeling and antagonistic. And you might become frustrated when product development doesn't go right.
Lastly, most startups don't succeed, and a significant number fail entirely. You could find yourself looking for another job in a year or two. Of course, the flip side is, if the startup takes off and you have a bonus or stock options, you could become relatively wealthy, perhaps even at an early age.
The benefits versus drawbacks of startup culture yield questions of importance that only you can answer. If you are highly dependent on a regular paycheck, the risk involved in a startup will cause you to lose sleep. If you like a predictable schedule, the often long hours and erratic office schedule of a startup could bother you. If these drawbacks are not significant factors and you are goal-driven, relish a fast pace and like to be depended on, a startup may be an exciting workplace.
Talk to some of the employees to find out about a prospective hiring startup's culture and work conditions. Try to gauge what kind of hours you'll work. Also, research the product and market. Does the startup have the ability to get a competitive product to market and the skills needed to sell the product?
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