The word “startup” immediately evokes an image of nerdy developers either coding at a computer or playing a round of ping pong. I’m neither proficient in writing code nor do I possess the hand-eye coordination to be a threat at ping pong, but I do work in an environment where these scenes play out daily. Stereotypes do exist for a reason, but for me, working in tech has been one of the most valuable experiences of my career.
I started in tech but admittedly I didn’t always feel this way about it. Like most 20-somethings there was a point where I had to challenge my career choices. I wanted to try new things and answer the age-old question, “Is the grass really greener on the other side?” Tech was all I knew so I left my job in tech for ‘greener’ pastures. It didn’t take long before I found myself looking for an opportunity to jump back in. Here’s why:
The Way We Work
As a new grad I found myself part of a two-member marketing team at a mobile dev shop in downtown Toronto. Like most startups, the focus was on growth and earning more business. As green as I was at the time, I was given way more responsibility than most people would’ve been given in a similar position in another industry. At the same time, I wasn’t given anything I couldn’t handle. Time flew by; six months felt like two years just by the sheer pace I had to learn and work. My professional growth accelerated, which I didn’t realize was happening at the time. Working for a startup out of the gate taught me how to work. Looking back I’m so grateful for it.
Collaborative environments, open concept work spaces, and flat organizations help things move quickly. Autonomy and decision making power put into the hands of more workers rather than kept at the top keeps things flowing. Tech companies get sh*t done in the smartest and fastest ways possible.
The Community (and Shaping it)
Being a part of the tech community is like having a second family. No matter how world-class or big you think the City of Toronto is, the tech community is tight knit. We’re supportive of one another. Even during my time spent in different jobs, I couldn’t get away from the people here (not that I was trying!). The point is I’ve made friendships with people from this community that I know will last a lifetime. Apart from friendships, the networking and exposure is amazing. Being a woman in this industry is especially exciting right now. We’re seeing the rise of female entrepreneurs trail blazing and shaking up industries like never before. In an industry that’s still dominated by men, it’s exciting to witness this change, offer a voice, support, and be a person for fellow women to stand with.
Yes, I can walk away from my computer to play a round of ping pong anytime. Jealous? You should be. I work for a company that understands work-life balance. The expectation to be 100% glued to a computer from the moment you walk in until the moment you leave (and later) is unrealistic. But playing a round of pong doesn’t mean I’m not expected to work hard. I’d argue we work even harder. We’ve fostered a company culture that values both. It’s not always perfectly facilitated but it’s the best attempt I’ve seen so far.
Above all else, tech is the space where no matter what the company’s goals are we’re all working to make this world a better place. We’re the innovators, dreamers, and thinkers that are shaping the future. After all, they don’t call it living on the ‘bleeding edge’ for nothing. If the work doesn’t excite you, I’m not too sure what else will. But for me and all the people I work with a tech company is exactly where I want to be.
Ruth Buder is the resident party girl (read: events) and PR associate at TribalScale. She loves food, representing the 6ix and is the Owner of PEONY TORONTO.