Career Advice Job Searching Tips

Should I Work at a Startup or a More Established Company?

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By: Charlotte Couch
Oct 5, 2020 • 7 min read

Should I Work at a Startup or a Larger, More Established Company?

During your job search, you will encounter a wide variety of companies looking for new employees. Some companies that are hiring will be large and established. Others will be young, ambitious companies looking for driven individuals that can help them expand. Here is how to decide if you should work at a startup or a more established company. 

at a startup

The Process of Discovery

Finding a company where you can thrive and grow is crucial for ensuring your career’s upward trajectory. While some employees enjoy working in a large company with numerous benefits, others find that they are slow to promote people and try new innovations. Some people might enjoy the fast-paced and unpredictable lifestyle that working at a startup may provide. But others might be put off by the long hours most startup companies require from their employees. In this article, we’re weighing some of the tops pros and cons of working for these respective types of companies. Hopefully, this will help you decide which type is the better fit for you!

Environment

One of the biggest differences between a large corporation and a startup company is the physical work environment you will be staying in. At a large corporation, you might find yourself stuck in a gray cubicle among dozens of other cubicles with the same design. Other corporations have started using open-desk concepts that are designed to encourage socialization and collaboration. Large companies usually have dozens of conference rooms for meetings and kitchens for storing and heating your food. 

at a startup

A Range of Workspaces

Startup companies, on the other hand, can drastically vary in terms of their design. One start-up might be located on the fourth floor of an old building. Their version of a “kitchen space” could include a microwave and a small table. Some startup companies have taken advantage of shared office spaces to promote collaboration. These buildings typically offer a wide range of workspaces, from open desks to modern offices. In these buildings, you can meet people from a variety of different companies. 

Promotions and Influence

When you work for a corporation, your job duties are usually clear-cut. For instance, if you are hired as a paid social media manager, your job duties will mainly be focused on managing paid social campaigns. You might be working with graphic designers, copywriters, videographers, SEO specialists, account managers, and project managers to launch successful ad campaigns. However, you won’t have to worry about designing anything yourself or writing your own copy. Your job is to track and monitor the success of each of your projects. 

at a startup

Wearing Many Hats

At smaller companies, you are usually expected to pick-up multiple job duties. If you’re an account manager at a marketing agency, you could be tasked with client communication, project planning, content writing, and social media management! Because startups are so small, the roles typically blur and overlap with each other. Getting promoted at both corporations and startup companies require you to go above and beyond your job duties. While you might be competing against fewer people for a startup promotion, your supervisors still expect you to perform outstanding work to be considered for one. 

Perks and Benefits

Perks can vary greatly between corporations and startup companies.

Corporate perks can include:

  • Time off for volunteer work
  • Travel stipend
  • Employee discounts at different businesses

Startups may offer:

  • Remote work opportunities
  • Close company culture
  • More opportunity for innovation

Of course, perks and benefits vary among businesses, regardless of whether they are large corporations or small businesses. So make sure you check each company respectively to see what specific benefits they offer employees. 

at a startup

Pay

Startups have a reputation for requiring long hours while offering a low salary in return. They don’t do this out of miserliness. They just don’t have enough funds to offer employees high salaries that can be found at larger companies. Until they fundraise and earn enough money, their salaries will typically be a little low. 

Management Style

When you start at a large corporation, you will typically undergo structured and supervised training. Because there are numerous team members available to help you get used to the company’s systems and pick up the slack when necessary, there is less pressure to get the hang of things right off the back. Your supervisor is usually equipped and ready to help you whenever you need them. However, startups usually need you to hit the ground running when you join the team. Employees need to be at peak performance most of the time. One person’s slip-up can cause serious repercussions across the company. It is important to always put your best foot forward!  

Reputation and Prestige

Working at a startup can be risky. There’s a chance that the company grows into something successful and highly-admired. On the other hand, there’s a higher chance that it will fail. When you work at a corporation that has already established itself as a leader in the industry, you have a higher chance of experiencing stability. Of course, anything can happen! Large corporations have been forced to reduce their workforce while smaller companies have been able to stay afloat and even hire new employees. 

at a startup

Final Thoughts

Finding a company where you can thrive is important for both your career trajectory and mental health. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in a job that makes you unhappy. For many people, the size of a company plays a large role in whether they can see themselves working there. Do you have a preference between large companies and startups? Let us know!

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