Startups are a strange breed of employment. If you can work with the right startup it can take your career on an incredible trajectory where its success is yours and companies will seek you out. It can also be an endless headache, a startup that gets stuck at a certain point can feel like a slowly sinking ship.
If you are thinking about joining a startup the first thing to consider is if you have the startup mentality. If you like having a secure job, arriving to work at 9 am and leaving at 5 pm and leaving your work in the office, never taking it home with you, the startup work life is not for you. However, if you can embrace chaos, work long hours, find the next task rather than be given it, and can handle a job with zero security, then it may be the perfect step for you.
If you have decided you want to try working at a startup the next step is to find the right one. The key to this is to understand four elements about your next potential employer. Culture, Company, Competition, and Customers. Give yourself the tasks of finding out what the culture is like in an organization, how the company is structured, where are they positioned relative to their competition and how their customers view them. Once you understand these four aspects you will have a great feel for what life at that company would be like.
Start talking to people in your desired industry today. Make connections with different startups and talk openly about how you would be interested in joining the chaotic world. Showcase how you can help them and then dive in. Prepare for a journey with many unknowns but many great times along the way. Enjoy.