Guest columnist and MentorMob developer James recalls the decision to work full time for a start up, and the endless suffering he has consequently endured.

The second time I ever spoke to our fearless co-founder Vince, it was over the phone, sitting in standstill traffic on I-90 in a torrential downpour. I was on my way to meet him and our other co-founder, Kris, in person for the first time. Just as I realized how claustrophobic it felt to be completely trapped inside my car with zero visibility, I got the call from Vince. Apparently, our first real meeting would be heralded by a bunch of tornadoes ripping through Chicago.

Some might consider this a bad omen. But to a man whose other job options ranged at the time from building programs for financial firms to, well, building programs for financial firms, sometimes a leap of faith in the middle of a Midwest monsoon is necessary.

And in hindsight, taking an unpaid position with a brand new start-up as a broke college grad was a pretty big gamble. But the opportunity was too much to pass up. I had stuck with computer science through college for this exact sort of project. The fact that I could take an idea and turn it into a reality with nothing but a monitor and keyboard was why I got into computer science in the first place.

Imagine building a skyscraper with an infinite supply of LEGOs. You’d never have to worry about running out of the 2×3 pieces and settling for 2x4s. When building a website, you’re limited only by your imagination, and you don’t have to worry about your product having a weird bump coming out the side of it and your mom shaking her head with disappointment at your architectural skills and your dad, unimpressed, mumbling about your wasted potential…

But where was I? So when I got the chance to build a completely unique, kick-ass website from the ground up, I couldn’t have been happier.

I hadn’t even been able to find a major-related job in past summers, so the itch to get working on something meaningful had really kicked in. And MentorMob wouldn’t just be an adventure in concept building, it would be an experience few people get to see first hand:

A small team of awesome people, all sacrificing something in one way or another, are betting it all that this idea takes hold and becomes something real. And let me tell you, so far it has been a BLAST! In addition to getting real world programming experience, I’ve learned the ins and outs of starting a start-up…and how to get through severe weather in one piece on I-90. Still people ask me a year later if I still think it was worth it.

Without a doubt.