There's more to it than that, but this title was the best way I could think of to sum it up.
I'm a senior in a good computer science program, and I'm graduating early. About to start interviews and all whatnot. I'm not a super-experienced programmer, not one of those people who started in middle school. I'm decent at this, but I'm not among the best, not nearly. I have to do an awful lot of googling.
So today I'm meeting some fellow for lunch at a campus cafe to discuss some front-end details when this tall, good-looking guy begs pardon, says he's new to campus, says he's wondering if we know where he can go to sign up for recruiting developers. Quickly evolves into long conversation: he's the CEO of a seems-to-be-doing-well start-up. Hiring passionate interns and full-times. Sounds great!
I take one look at his site on my own computer later, immediately spot a major bug. No idea how to fix it, but I see it. I go over to the page code, and good god. It's the standard amount of code you would expect from a full-scale web application, a couple dozen pages of HTML and scripts. I don't even know where to start reading it. I've built sites from scratch, but obviously never on that scale, nor have I ever worked on one of that scale. I have no idea which bit might generate the bug.
But that sets me thinking: How could someone like me possibly settle into an environment like that? A start-up is a very high-pressure working environment. I don't know if I can work at that pace under those constraints-- I would hate to let people down. And with only 10 employees, it's not like anyone has much time to help you get your bearings.
Somewhere in there is a question. Can you see it? I'm asking for general advice here. Maybe even anecdotal advice. Is joining a start-up right out of college a scary process? Am I overestimating what it would take to figure out the mass of code behind this site? What's the likelihood a decent but only moderately-experienced coder could earn his pay at such a place? For instance, I know nothing of server-side/back-end programming. Never touched it. That scares me.