CS and the City Sean Lynch

Startup is a dangerous word

I have a supervisor from a previous co-op emailing me to let me know that he is now working for a startup and that they are interested in getting me to help do some development part time, with the option of a full-time position in an upcoming workterm.

At the very least, the offer is quite the compliment. Though I have been working with Java since first year in Waterloo, this particular job was my very first workterm developing 'professionally' with Java. I felt confident that I was able to make the leap from academic to real-world during the workterm, but I'm glad to hear that my employer felt the same way. In fact, he was impressed enough to do a bit of a sell towards the end of the email. The more I look over his 'Why?'s, however, the interested I become.

  • Money – It's nice, but I'm increasingly finding that my time is much more valuable. Plus, it's a startup, the amount and frequency could be spotty.
  • Resume Fodder – Yes, another development position on the ol' resume is good, but how does the addition of this position to my resume make me look to an employer. More may not necessarily be better in the case. If I took the position, I would be doing part-time development in my free time from my full-time job. A prospective employer may get the feeling that I don't actually commit myself to my job if I'm also working for some other company in the evenings.
  • Fancy Job Title – If I accept a fulltime position for an upcoming workterm (which would be September to December 2005 at the earliest) in addition to my role as a developer, I would also be put in charge of any co-op initiative, a relatively ceramonial positon. A large number of co-op employers take advantage of current co-ops to hire the next term's group.

I've been saying that I am really interested in working for a startup, but I think my expectations may not actually be representative of what's out there. Then again, it may be that it's the ideas that startups pursue that interest me and I don't find the idea of this specific startup that magnetizing. Are co-ops in a position to negotiate terms of employment with startups?