As college students flood back into Boston this month, I’ve been looking back on life since graduating from Boston College in 2015, reflecting specifically on my decision to join Jana. If you’re a recent college graduate, perhaps you can relate to the disorienting dizziness brought on by the infinite possibilities presented to you upon graduation. It’s likely that you will never again be so free of obligations or commitments, save for college loans. It’s liberating, as it is daunting, because at some point you have to make choices about what this new phase of life will look like—the biggest decision likely being your first job.
I believe it’s a privilege to have a career, to chase your curiosities, and spend your days working on something you truly care about. I felt a strong responsibility to put my education towards a worthy cause, believing that I would otherwise be doing a disservice to my friends, family, and teachers who taught me to think reflectively and responsibly about the impact I want to have on this world.
Jana’s ambitious mission to improve internet access for the billions of people in emerging markets was unmatched by any other startup I was considering. I felt a restless desire to be a part of what they were working on, in whatever capacity I could. Sink or swim, regardless of the outcome, this was an effort I would be proud to have been part of.
So here I am, a little over a year later after joining Jana. It’s been an awesome ride and a lot has changed. But I’m as excited to be here today as I was on Day 1, if not more excited. But startups aren't for everyone. Here are three reasons why I chose a startup, and specifically Jana, as my first job:
1. Unified goals
I’ve always taken issue with the mantra, “Work to live, don’t live to work.” Because if ~70% of my life will be spent at work, then working is nearly synonymous with living. And if that’s not true, then life is even shorter than I planned for. It was important for me to work at company whose values align with my own, to find a symbiosis between my own goals and a team’s goals. I wanted to work towards a mission that I could adopt as my own, something I could go all in on.
At Jana I’ve been able to work towards things I’ve always aspired to do—to connect with our users in other countries, to challenge the status quo, to be an active listener, and to play a part in the major societal developments of our lifetime. And I’m encouraged to do so because I’m surrounded by people trying to do the same.
When you’re surrounded by incredibly talented and driven teammates, it’s difficult to get comfortable in your role or settle at a certain level of contribution. That’s a good thing! I love that you can’t hide in a startup. You’re constantly checking yourself to determine what more you could be doing to propel the team faster toward the goal. You’re forced to confront your weaknesses and address them head on, because as a member of a small team, you want to be as strong a player as possible. At Jana, I feel an extreme sense of ownership of my work.
The shiny perks of working at a startup like kegerators, ping pong tables, and unlimited vacation, as great as they are, are likely not going to get you up in the morning a year into the job. What gets me up is actually what keeps me up some nights. It’s the opportunity I’ve been afforded to make an impact—even if just to contribute the smallest piece. That opportunity creates a really exciting tension where you just want to keep moving. Our CTO said something a couple of months ago that stuck with me:
“If this fails, it’s because we failed. It’s on us—this group of 80 people at 101 Arch Street in Boston.”
I’m by no means a morning person, but that gives me a good reason to get out of bed everyday to work as hard as I can to help us succeed. I’m extremely proud to work with a team that’s taking on a really difficult problem and I feel very lucky to be a part of all of this. If you’d like to be a part of this too, let us know. We’re hiring!