What It’s Like Being in a Rocketship: Job Scalability

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Speed, agility, flexibility… scalability makes for one hell of a ride. By Kate Swanberg (Online Marketing Coordinator, Koombea)

The word “scalability” is often thrown around like a buzzword needed to explain growth.

However, “scaling” at a company versus being part of a “scaling process” can be two very different things. I work in a startup atmosphere. Even though the company I work for is six years old, it is very much still a startup while still being a large company and here’s why:

  • Like a startup, we are always growing customers and team members
  • There is plenty of room for professional growth
  • There is hope for something larger ahead

When I was looking at where to work after college (and after several amazing internships), I found myself inspired by Sheryl Sandberg and thinking about which “Rocketship” I could join.

As the Marketing Coordinator for Koombea, a web and mobile development agency, the term “job scalability” not only applies to our company but many of our clients who we build apps and software for. Our clients are often other startups you may know of as well as large companies like Aetna, Samsung and Motorola. All companies in business want to do what’s best in the most innovative way possible. So “scaling” is something I think about everyday.

So, what’s it like being in a rocketship fresh out of college? On the one hand it's very exciting. On the other, it can be stressful as you try to learn on the job as fast as you can.

While Koombea is a large company, our marketing department operates very independently and agile to meet various product needs, both Koombea-originated or client-initiated. On a daily basis I coordinate events between San Francisco, New York and Barranquilla, Colombia which is (despite being from Chicago) where I am currently located, along with our VP of Product Marketing, Ellie Cachette, and VP of Business Development, Nicolas Costa.

When I was looking at the right “rocketship” to join, I never thought so early on in my career I would be given so many responsibilities so soon and get to experience every piece of action I was interested in. This is something that can be overlooked by recent graduates; not taking into account the value of the work experience you will get.

On any given day, I can be helping coordinate social marketing items, producing content, managing Webinar series, tracking analytics and A/B testing website changes. There is a constant optimization of workflows and visual content and our output has to play with the big guys, including some of our Fortune 500 clients. We’ve had to be “agile” and flexible so often in our department that we’ve referred to ourselves as using “Agile Marketing”. Otherwise, all our changes just wouldn’t make sense to anyone other than a development team. We are agile in the same way when we advocate for MVPs and development. I guess you could say we walk the walk when it comes to what we preach.

When Does Yours Stop?

One of the greatest things yet challenging things about being on a “rocketship” is that your job never stays the same. Which means it's very rare that the line can be drawn between what you should and should not do if asked. Everyone in a scaling company plays a part in getting things done, as a team. Even job titles become blurry and you have to be okay with that. My official title is “Marketing Coordinator”. However, at any given day I can be the Executive Administrator or Sales Coordinator or Marketing Manager, depending on the situation. I’ve helped create one-pagers for sales, product backgrounders, assisted with prospects and leads, reviewed sales analytics, global sales meetings and monthly reports. See what I mean about job scalability? At a growing company, you dip your toe into a little bit of everything.

Want a Seat?

For anyone daring to enter the startup force after college, they should be prepared for any other kind of work at a startup or small business. You won't be doing work for only that one department. Teamwork is the biggest quality needed in a work environment – it’s a give and take relationship and that’s exactly what you’re signing up for.

Why Scalability is Good

Scalability is one of the ways that companies can ensure and protect themselves for success. For people who like to spend time in many roles or departments, this can also be an added benefit to joining a startup, whereas some structured companies may not like the idea of you spending your time in other departments. Getting this type of experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There’s always something new and exciting to look forward to each day, and the work isn’t tedious. A scalable profession is a good one.

I’m finding that the daily inspiration that comes from working around founders and that being in a “rocketship” environment isn’t only about the direct skills you learn, but also being constantly around dreamers. Sometimes scaling, I am learning, has more to do with expanding a dream than building one.

Do you find yourself performing multiple roles in your company?

Kate close upAbout the writer: Kate is the Online Marketing Coordinator at Koombea, a web and mobile design and development agency. With 3 years of startup experience, she also has a degree in Advertising from the University of Illinois in Champaign. Follow her @Keswanberg