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A Few Things I’ve Learned From Working With Escape the City

Sadly, my time as an intern with Escape the City is drawing to a close- that is, until they hit the jackpot and hire me as Chief Ethics Officer or Executive Party Planner or President of the Blog.

For now, a few lessons I’ve learned in my time here about start-ups, being a marketable candidate for a job, and pursuing your passion.

1. Start-Up Stress is a Different Kind of Stress- All jobs are stressful.  There’s no way around it.  In a start-up, you don’t have to wear a suit and do weekly PowerPoints, but you still have a lot going on.  There’s always more work to do, and the responsibility falls on you.  There’s no hiding away, surfing blogs for nine hours in a cubicle, then going home and forgetting about it.  If you’re considering starting something, you have to consider which stress you prefer; the stress of having to conform to a company’s culture, or the stress of having to take ownership of a business, and everything that entails.  Personally, I prefer the latter!

2. Being in a Start-Up is Being On The Clock 24/7 – Rob, Dom, and Mikey are always thinking about how to create a better business.  When we take lunch breaks, the conversation is often about a great book on entrepreneurialism, creating a new website, or honing business strategies.  Working in, and especially running, a start-up, means that the wheels are always turning. 

3. All Start-Ups Were Not Created Equally- As I’ve interviewed for jobs and geared my focus toward start-up positions, I’ve discovered that you can’t generalise about what it’s like to work in a start-up.  Some of them have very intense professional cultures, while others prefer to have daily pizza parties.  Some start-ups are filled with people who work non-stop, regularly pulling sixteen hour work-days.  Others focus on maintaining  a strong work-life balance among their employees, as a lack of that balance is what pushed them to leave previous corporate positions.  Some people seek VC-backing, while others prefer to maintain absolute control over the business.  All of these factors effect the working environment.  The one thing I can say is that most start-up employees are extremely engaged in their project, and believe fervently in what they’re doing.  Good on them!

4. Charisma Goes A Long Way- Throughout my time at Escape, I’ve heard lots of different entrepreneurs and start-up employees talk about their ideas.  The greatest idea, when presented in a boring way, can be made to sound like it’s nothing special.  When someone has charisma and is entertaining, even to the point of seeming a little crazy, they can engage their audience.  Their enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s easier to get excited about their ideas.  It’s great to have the face of your business be someone who has personality, character, and superb speaking skills. 

5. Computers: Learn Them, They’re Sticking Around For The Forseeable- I could kick myself for not having studied computer science at university (English Literature- What was I thinking!?).  Over and over again, I see amazing job opportunities for programmers, developers, systems engineers, and even graphic designers.  If you’re an expert in a certain programming language or computer program, you have a great chance of finding cool job opportunities or even going into business for yourself and working as a contractor. 

6. Social Proof is the Best Proof- There are a lot of different ways to spread the word about your business.  Tweet it, blog it, facebook it, make cold-calls, advertise online, go to networking events.  The BEST way is social proof.  I heard about Escape the City through a friend I trusted, and because of that, I was soon an Escape convert.  Many Escapees I’ve spoken with at Escape events discovered the site in the same way that I did.  Escape’s popularity continues to grow through word-of-mouth. 

7. Finding a Great Career is Possible- There are many people out there who are not satisfied by their jobs, and just as many people out there looking to hire great people for an interesting position.  If you’re reading this blog post, then I’m probably preaching to the choir, but Escape the City has really helped me consider what I want out of a career and what I’m good at, as well as surveying what’s out there.  It’s also given me hope that there’s room for all types in this world, and that you don’t have to be a maths whiz in a suit to have an engaging, lucrative, and exciting career.


  • http://Whatthehellamidoing.co.uk Brian

    Great post Liz. I think it is really key to stress the point that all start ups are different. You can be pulled into working long hours very easily because as you rightly say, there is always something to do. If you are passionate about your product & business, then the 24/7 demands on your brain are not work, they are stoking your interests i.e. your business and making it succeed.

  • http://Dooster.net Ed

    Good set of points Liz

    but what do you want to do? What would be your preferred role / focus in a start up?