Surviving a Startup as an Introvert
So you’ve joined a startup, or a midsize company that works at a startup’s frantic cadence. The hours are long, the tasks and deadlines are soul-crushers, but the rewards are potentially vast. There’s just one issue: You’re an introvert, in a job whose particulars demand pretty much near-constant interaction with other human beings. What to do? Fortunately, this is one of those situations where you can start prepping the solution before you even walk through the door on the first day. When you’re negotiating the terms of employment, ask for flexible hours and the ability to work from home; that will allow you to accomplish your tasks without overloading on the whole human-interaction thing. In a similar vein, recognize that not every meeting needs to take place face-to-face. The rise of Slack, HipChat, and other communications platforms has made it possible to really dig into the weeds on issues without actually speaking to another person. There’s just one caveat here: Some people enjoy meeting in the flesh—you may want to tell them (nicely) about your introverted status, so they don’t try to ask for your attendance on calls or in conference rooms every other hour. Lastly, you can try to create a little physical space for yourself, although this is easier said than done in an era in which many workspaces are “open,” as opposed to divided into discrete rooms and offices. (And no, that doesn’t mean creating a wall of boxes that separates you from your co-workers.) If your office has cubbyholes or more isolated areas, the glories of Wi-Fi mean you can probably work there, instead.