So you are a recent graduate who’s about to make a huge decision on what to choose for their first job – working at an established corporation or a startup. There’s no consensus among HR professionals on how long you should stay at your first job out of college, but the general agreement seems to be that it should be no less than a year – that is the minimum amount of experience that is needed for jobs that aren’t entry level and it will communicate to recruiters that you’ve survived at least one serious performance review. So suffice it to say that you’re choosing what you’ll be doing for a while.
Before delving into the pros and cons of these types of companies, you should know that there is no definitive, right-or-wrong answer to this dilemma. Every decision should be made on a case by case basis, and there are still things that you’ll have to compromise on even if you think you’ve found the right fit for you. You should also know that this is a list of generalizations – for instance, an employee of a new, lean startup will work more (both in terms of hours and sheer amount of irons in the fire) than an employee of a large, redundancy-filled corporation, but that’s not to suggest that you won’t be expected to work hard at an established company.
With that being said, let’s jump into dissecting this issue:
1. Amount, and pace, of work
Your typical startup works at a much higher pace than a large corporation. At a startup, especially one that hasn’t released its first product yet, workers are expected to complete tasks at breakneck speeds, when, at an established company where work is dispersed and deadlines not as punishing, you’ll be able to go at your own pace, more or less.
Moreover, startup workers are expected to be polyfunctional – that means that sometimes, you’ll be doing the work of a person who hasn’t been hired yet. The schedules in Silicon Valley, for instance, are notoriously grueling. Large corporations that have to consolidate large amounts of work all rely on checking, re-checking and getting an ‘ok’ from a higher up before doing anything. All this means is that, at a large corporation, the work will be more evenly paced, but by no means should you expect it to be easy.
How much you’re paid will depend on your position, previous experience and a host of other factors. There is no hard and fast rule that says one pays more than the other, but there are definitely differences in work culture that change how workers are compensated.
For one, a large corporation is likely to have some sort of retirement plan contribution. If you’re planning to start putting money into a 401k now (and you definitely should be at least considering it, even if you consider yourself too young to worry about that right now), your employer might match your contributions up to a certain sum, doubling what you’re putting away – that money is tax free, by the way.
Most startups don’t have the funds to match retirement contributions – or compete salary-wise with established corporations. Lots of startups, however, will give equity to the employee. This is, at the same time, good and bad. It’s bad because now your salary and your assets depend on the health of your company (and startups are famously volatile). It’s good, on the other hand, because you own a piece of what you’re contributing to, not to mention the fact that you can come out of this fairly wealthy if you happen to be working for the next Snapchat.
At a large company, you’ll be doing one small part of a project that at least 50 other people are also working on. This means that, when the project is completed successfully, your contribution might get lost in the crowd of other people’s, not to mention the fact that, normally, executives of large companies see their workers’ achievements as their own.
So if you’ve devised something you think is a brilliant and unexpected solution to a problem, the person who’s going to get the pat on the head is going to be your boss, and the executive tasked with handling the project – not you.
By contrast, at a startup, you’d typically be working in smaller teams. You’ll be expected to do more work and solve more issues, but, at the end, your achievements will be contributed to you, and if you’ve made something truly noteworthy or ingenious, you can trust that, in a small team, no one will attribute your accomplishment to themselves.
4. Future career
Here’s what will probably be the most important item in this list to most recent grads – where those different jobs lead. By no means are you expected to be making huge ten-to-fifteen-years-down-the-line decisions right now, when you haven’t even chosen your first job, but this is still important to consider.
If you’re planning to start your own company, then, no question, a startup will be better for you. Conversely, if running your own business does not appeal to you (no shame in this – even if it’s been dictated to you as the only thing you should aspire to throughout school), and you’re interested in vertical growth, you should consider working for a corporation. Fairly obvious.
Now, what a lot of people just entering the workforce don’t realize is that, at established companies, you’ll have to wait for a long time to get promoted as compared to a startup. One of the reasons is that, at an established company, you’re in line behind a number of other workers – even if you’ve worked harder and accomplished more than others at your level, you still might be passed up for a promotion just because you haven’t been working there as long as someone else. Not to mention the fact that your boss might be a dinosaur, and before taking their job, you’ll have to wait for that fossil to retire.
Now, by this point you should hopefully already see what is more attractive to you. Again, neither of these options is better than the other per se, but one of them should fit you better. Since this is your first “big boy job”, you should be looking ahead and see if there is any realistic potential for growth.
If it’s a corporation, where is the last person who worked this position now? If it’s a startup, where do similar positions lead? For your first job, you should choose something that, first and foremost, gives you more opportunities to learn, especially if you opted out of going to grad school to work straight away.
Article contributed by Florence Mendoza.
Florence is a consultant at BuyAnEssay Buy an Essay writing company. She provides writing help and career consultations to recent college graduates.