While many graduates are aiming to get into large organisation Graduate Programs, I happen to have started my career from a start-up – www.resonate.cx. I’ve only been here under 1 year, it is such a unique experience and I’ve already learnt a lot of valuable lessons on the journey.

Here I’d like to share with you the most valuable 5 lessons I’ve learnt from my start-up experience.

Lesson 1: Take Initiative

Taking initiative may sound familiar to many of us, and unsurprisingly, this attribute is the most important lesson I’ve learnt thus far.

Unlike reading it from a book or taking advice from other people at Resonate, I am surrounded by people who are brave enough to take initiative and this is rooted in our company culture.

One of our company’s core values is “Make magic”, which means we are constantly taking brave and uncommon actions to make impossible things happen.

Being able to make magic requires a good sense of what we want to see or manifest or what is lacking. Once you’ve identified what it is you would like to bring to life, you’ve found your golden opportunity to coin the initiative.

For example, I am a person who enjoys writing :D, and the first opportunity that I’ve found in my everyday work is that: There’s a need for us to have better documentation.

I brought this issue to my manager and I have also started to document many technical processes. My colleagues find it absolutely useful, not only for the newbies, but also for people with experience.

At Resonate, everyone has the same mindset of “Make Magic”, so you will see a lot of real-life examples from your workmates. This environment inspires you to learn from others and be brave enough to coin your discoveries.

If no one is doing it, you can be the one to take it on. This is a good way to bring out your leadership abilities.

This is how “Take Initiative” is defined in a start-up context where there are a lot of  problems to solve. It is not an easy habit to form, but it is absolutely a habit that can make you stand out of the crowd.

Lesson 2: Voice Your Opinion

Coming from an Asian background, I can used to be saying “Yes” to my manager. Another important lesson I’ve learnt in Resonate is that: My Voice Matters.

In every meeting, every workshop, or every task I’m currently doing, I’m encouraged to voice my opinion, no matter if it is a voice representing the majority or just my voice.

People here value others’ opinion and you’re always welcome to speak out your true feelings. Discussions around different opinions, or sometimes arguments, are just an essential way of us to refine our ideas and make sure we’re seeing the whole picture before making a decision.

I still remember the first time I was having lunch with other people and they asked me: Luna, do you like the name of our product feature? My reflex was to say “Yes, of course!”, but one of the colleagues added on “Luna, you don’t need to like it”.

That was such an unusual experience for me that I suddenly realized, when people ask your opinion, they are expecting you to give different answers and they are willing to accept the difference.

Start-ups welcome and value creative ideas and practical suggestions. There’s nothing worse than having no opinion, you can talk in private or in public, doesn’t matter, but you can have an opinion.

The lesson for me is: Voice your opinion regardless if you agree or disagree give reasons as well, engagement is the key.

Lesson 3: Be flexible

Here’s another lesson I’ve learnt at Resonate, be flexible and prepared for change. Change is 120% going to happen.

I wish I could tell you how much I like to be consistent, stable, following the routines and doing everything perfectly. However, being in a start-up is totally not the type of life that I would enjoy, or to put it into another way, you cannot survive in a start-up without feeling any chaos.

Multi-tasking is another essential skill to survive in a start-up. The company rules and routines are very likely to change every now and then, because we are trying to work out a better approach to suit our business.

Most people enjoy living in their comfort zones, I’m no exception. But my life at Resonate has made me think differently about “problems, changes and pressure”. I used to avoid these things and thus I have missed a lot of opportunities to step out of my comfort zone. Being more flexible and adaptable is a skill required to survive and thrive in today’s changing world.

Everything is changing, everything is going to change, the only thing we can do is to build up a mindset that embraces change and be ready to use our creativity and knowledge to solve new problems.

At Resonate, people are expected to handle new problems in a creative way along with a positive and resilient mindset, that’s the 3rd valuable lesson I’ve learnt.

Lesson 4: Teamwork is the key to success

Another core value of Resonate is “Power Up the Circle”.

Individual superstars are welcome, but individual superstars that do not fit in a team area not going to power up the circle. Being a team player means asking for help when you are stuck and helping others when they are stuck. A start-up is a team sport.

Start-ups appreciate teamwork, every success is a result of teamwork and collaboration, sitting in a Developer’s role, every task I have completed requires the input from business analysts, project manager, UX expert, testing expertise and team knowledge.

It’s never about your individual success, it’s about you playing your role in this team game. Making sure you do your best to ensure the quality of the final result. And a team’s success reflects your success, the team always comes first.

Lesson 5: Growth is the ultimate topic

Working in a fast-paced start-up means you must keep learning and growing.

The fact is that, everyone is learning new things in your company, the knowledge from yesterday may be outdated now. You don’t necessarily need to join a course to learn new things, you can also learn from people around you.

Another thing to remember is that: if you are willing to share your knowledge with others, you are really adding value to the company.

Personal growth, professional skill improvement and soft skill resharpening lies in your everyday choices, mindset and actions. I’m lucky enough to have all these hardworking and smart people around me in my workplace. The company culture really motivates me to learn new things, gain new skills, and use my knowledge to empower the others.

Summary

The 5 lessons I’ve learnt in the start-up:

  1. Be brave to take Initiatives and discover opportunities;
  2. Voice your opinion, engagement is the key;
  3. Be flexible and welcome the uncertainty;
  4. Teamwork is the key to success;
  5. Growth is the ultimate topic, it’s about you becoming a better person.

Finally, thanks for reading my blog post, hope you find it insightful and can adapt these lessons in your work and life.