Making a choice between Startup and Corporate

When you are at the very beginning of your career, one of the foremost significant decisions you will need to make is whether to get associated with a well – established company or an early-stage startup. These two paths are very different and therefore the benefits and rewards vary markedly between them.

There was a time when joining a well-established company was the only goal of anyone who is starting the career. Corporations, consulting firms, and investment banks were traditionally held in high regard. Startups were not really part of the mix, but over the past few decades, this view has changed.

There are benefits and drawbacks to both, so how do you choose between the two? The key is to know a work environment in which you can thrive.


Every company is different—regardless of size—and there are a couple of characteristics that ring true about startup and corporate culture.


You Love a Fast-Paced, Ever-Changing Work Environment: Startups pride themselves on moving quickly. It is likely that your role changes drastically in a short span. If working through ambiguity, wearing multiple hats and embracing change sound exciting to you, a startup might be a good choice. Creative minds will thrive in a startup environment. The bigger the company, it usually is more structured, regimented and resistant to change.

You Don’t Shy Away From Responsibility: Startup means your hand is full of responsibilities—not only to perform your duties, but to take responsibility in the event the company or your team fails. If this sounds stressful, you might consider taking the corporate route, where your individual role is less visible. But, if you are productive in a high-pressure environment and flexible to take responsibility for different projects you are fit in a startup culture.

You are Passionate about the Work: Succeeding in a startup environment is not easy as in the early stages of these ventures, budgets are often tight and teams tend to be small, forcing many employees to put on numerous hats and perform a variety of tasks, often without equivalent compensation.

When you are passionate about the work you do or the mission your company is pursuing, it is easier to put up with the inherent uncertainties of a startup life.


You Prioritize Compensation over Passion: Success stories related to a startup will make anyone believe that one can get rich if the work of the company takes off. But it all takes time; even joining a successful startup will not reap the benefits immediately.

At an established organization, you can count on competitive salaries and benefits packages, as well as the stability of being part of an established organization.

You Value Work-Life Balance:  If you are comfortable and prefer a nine-to-five role, you will likely enjoy working in a corporate environment. The lines between work and home are not clear in a startup. Comparing two similar nature jobs with an equal salary—one at a startup working 60 hours per week and one at a corporation working 40 hours will result in a lower hourly rate at the startup since you are working more hours than you would at a corporation.

Basically, it is a choice about your priorities and stage in life. Are you willing to accept a lower salary to pursue your passions? Is financial stability a priority right now? Thinking through these questions should provide a clearer answer.

If you work for a startup instead of a large corporation, how will that impact your career down the line?

One of the great things about the fast – paced startup life is that you are lucky enough, to have the opportunity to learn a variety of transferable skills.

In every business, there are customers, products, data and there are operational challenges. By working at a startup you will learn how these come together to earn a profit, and be ready to apply that knowledge anywhere.

Having experience with a growth-stage company is quite valuable as compared to other established companies. Regardless of your job description and your daily activities, you will be constantly interacting with people in other functional roles and these skills will rub off on you and make you better- rounded, with a deeper understanding of how businesses are built.

Before zeroing it down to the decision, answer the following list of questions which will help determine which work environment is a better fit for your needs:

  1. Are you sure about your long-term career path? : If your answer is no, then a startup is a better option for you, because you will have a chance to wear different hats. And if you crave stability in what you do then an established corporate makes more sense.
  2. Is mentorship important to you? : Corporate companies mostly have more regimented training procedures, readily available resources and professionals with rich experience who can pass on their knowledge. But when working for startups, your boss may not have as much experience, or the time, to help you as a real mentor.
  3. How much do you value transparency? : Transparency means how much the employee is aware of what is going on in the company via open Leadership. Startup companies are more transparent than established companies because the top management is generally more available.
  4. Do you prefer set or flexible hours? : One of the advantages of an established business culture is having set hours—such as 9 am to 5 pm—which can give you a more ideal work-life balance. When working for a startup, although the hours are more flexible, your workday is likely going to be much longer.
  5. How important is recognition to you? : The reality is that you are more likely to be able to make a greater impact at a smaller, startup company as compared to be working in a corporate environment. It becomes easier to impress your boss and get credit for good work in a startup environment.
  6. How do you like to work? : For instance, If you prefer working in small teams or with large groups? Is it important that your company’s culture aligns with your beliefs and values? These are some of the things to consider.

At the end of the day, the decision is yours – whether working in a corporate environment, or for a startup company, is the best option for you. Now that you have asked yourself some questions about what you value in the workplace, you may be better equipped to make that decision. And sometimes you just have to go with your gut.  One of the best ways that you can prepare yourself for any work environment is to earn the proper skill and qualifications –and a great place to start is by earning your degree!


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