Beyond Fame and Parties: What top Engineers Really Want From a Startup by@achaplygin

Beyond Fame and Parties: What top Engineers Really Want From a Startup

Alexey Chaplygin HackerNoon profile picture

Alexey Chaplygin

In love with neural nets. I am CIO at Reface – a company, that applies AI/ML for personalized content creation.

Photo by Gaspar Uhas on Unsplash.

… Or at least THIS engineer.

Startups aren’t for everyone, and to be honest, the idea is overly romanticized today. The shiny allure of alternative cultures isn’t as deceiving to many today as it once was.

Before landing at a startup, I worked as a consultant, freelancer, and at a large, well-established corporation.

Below are my Personal Experiences - as an Engineer- in Different Role Categories:


If you’re a consultant, you may start to feel like you aren’t making as much money as you expected, noticeably so.

At the same time, there is no freedom.

If you start on a good note, you’ll find a client who will tell you what to do -- save you the headache of searching for new projects for a few months, and every quarter you work in a new place. It can be cool for a while. However, after leveling up your skills, you realize you can work for yourself.

So you become a freelancer. It’s much the same as consulting: just some different experiences and different locales. You are on the front lines of the project and you get all the money because there’s nobody behind your back. But you also start to crash into a wall.

As much as you work as a freelancer, you don’t grow. You’re “driving nails,” coming to the rescue, most likely, when everything is almost ruined.

There is never a feeling of completeness.

If you find yourself at a corporation, cool. There’s security, “competitive” salaries and you can bring your work to its own conclusion – yourself.

Then, you realize that corporations are clumsy and you can do more. But nobody lets you do more, because nobody is interested.

Enter startups. A moment inevitably comes when you decide to work completely for yourself or join someone else to make a new company from scratch.

Even when you (and those closest to you) later question your sanity, you mentally run through the list above and remember why. And you stay the course.


8 Things That Make Engineers Today say: “This place is for me!”

1. Feeling Engaged

The best engineers today are involved! They understand that they work on a team -- a cohesive team where they know everyone.

They’re revolutionizing their industry or the world. Work isn’t just about work; they need a sense of mission and purpose.

They crave that feeling of when their product reaches the world, and ordinary people begin to use it.

2. Drive

Startups don’t have ‘working hours.’ Some engineers don’t even call it ‘work.’ It’s ‘work,’ life and a hobby – it’s everything.

They’re nerds about their tasks in the best way possible. It’s important to give them more than the opportunity to just complete tasks.


3. Prizing Independence

The best engineers today rebut overly formal structures. They get depressed if they’re given strict boundaries that they cannot stray outside of, or don’t have the right, power, or ability to do anything else.

Empower them! They will be more inspired and motivated if you do!

4. Growth & Investment in the Future

People today are ready to work -- not so much even for a high salary-- but the opportunity for growth.

They’re willing to invest in their time and commitment, in order to get higher dividends in the future.


5. Individuality in Work Conditions

Ideally, the office space will be a chill environment. But it doesn’t need to be a garage, hangar or traditional office with desks and unlimited notebooks.

There could be small, fun little things that make it a nice place to just be: free lunches, unlimited soda, etc.

The vibe of the office should give engineers the opportunity to work like they would prefer, whether that’s sitting on a ball, on a transforming table, or with choice headphones.

6. Values Reflected in Work

Top engineers are skeptical of ‘corporate values.’ Values need to be realized in reality, lived. They should actually bring employees and the company together in spirit.


7. Flexibility

Give people the power to make decisions and influence the product, without a strict bureaucracy.

Structure, of course, should be respected, but it shouldn’t be about authority and especially if they are separated in a corner office with their own personal guard and secretary.

8. Address Relevant & Topical Issues

Candidates today have beliefs that are important to them; It’s often inspiring and motivating when both the priorities of the candidate and a company’s values align.

Try and consider the modern climate, and work towards making a positive change in the world as a company and community.

Alexey Chaplygin HackerNoon profile picture
by Alexey Chaplygin @achaplygin.In love with neural nets. I am CIO at Reface – a company, that applies AI/ML for personalized content creation.
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