Should you work at a software startup? Some pros and cons for engineers.

Norm Julian
11 min readJan 17, 2024

If you need to get around the paywall, you can read this story here.

When I started my software engineering career in November 2014, startups were at the bottom of my list. Sure, I was a green and excited new college grad, but I’ve always been quite risk-averse.

And yet, after backing out of my master’s program and throwing my resume to the wind, I ended up choosing a small startup in Boston over an enterprise-level household name much closer to home. With just two suitcases and a thermal underwear set for every day of the week, I flew north from Texas and stayed with that amazing company for five years. I eventually left for my own personal growth — for another startup, and then another, where I’ve happily written and/or broken code ever since.

After nine years and counting on the scene, I’m excited to share what it’s been like (with a little bonus color, too, since I’ve been openly autistic, openly trans, both, or neither at various points throughout the saga).

Personal considerations aside, here are some pros and cons for just about anyone on the fence about whether a tech startup is the right place to land.

Pro: You won’t be living paycheck-to-paycheck

My first startup salary allowed me to live within walking distance of the Davis Square metro station in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I don’t have a high spending tolerance, so we…



Norm Julian

Programmer by trade, Texpat, lover of multicolored things and sunflower seed butter