Class of 2013, ask questions before you make assumptions.

I’m noticing something that rubs me the wrong way.

In this specific instance, I was talking to a new grad who was recently hired at a startup. She knew I worked in the tech space, and mentioned that she “disagreed” with “what you do.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. I’m vaguely aware of a few of my profesional interests — bold risk, information, and matching markets — but I never thought of myself as typecast-able.

She went on to describe her interview process at said company, and how she found it fluffy. “I think she only hired me because she wants to be my friend,” the girl laughed to the table. “This whole startup culture thing is bullshit.”

I accidentally took her battle, though I should have dropped it. “How would you do it?” I asked.

Picking on startup culture is like picking on the freshman in high school. Yes, they might be easy targets - but that’s precisely why you shouldn’t do it. I mean, what would you actually do with a dwindling budget, an idea without stability, and product timeline to fulfill? With your parents asking why you left your job, your mental sanity hanging on a string, and a company to run? You’re going to do what any sane person would do — try to make people feel welcome and happy so they don’t leave.

Unsurprisingly, she couldn’t answer. This isn’t due to her lack of intelligence — she just hasn’t seen it from the inside yet. Class of 2013, ask questions before you make assumptions. If you can’t ask those questions, you probably should try a safer career.

It’s easy to criticize a culture from the outside, or from interning, or from that Techcrunch article you read about AirBnB’s conference rooms. But if you’re not in the drivers seat, you have no idea what you are talking about. Seriously, grads. You’re better off reading Machiavelli.

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

I know I can’t stop the haters, but I really hope that this attitude isn’t prominent in the general attitude of the modern millennial workforce. You may be digitally native, but senior people have actually given it a shot.

 
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