Startup vs Corporate Job: Which is Better for Your Career?

For the millennials, one of the million-dollar questions is whether a startup or corporate job is better for a career in the long run. To be honest, there is no straight-forward answer to this. It all depends on your perspectives, priorities, and aspirations. There are pros and cons in both corporate and startup setups.


I have worked for around 6 years with big brands and 4 years in the startup world. The co-author of this article – Parinita Gupta has also got the experience of working for a multinational bank and a digital marketing startup. So, I guess, we can tell you a thing or two and help you decide what’s better for you.


An incentive for our readers: We will also look at how various career guidance platforms Instahyre, CareerGuide, Careerizma, (and of course, Stoodnt) can help you with your career journey and job search. We have included short interviews with the Founders of those platforms. So, read till the end!


Startup vs Corporate Job: Which is Better for Your Career?

Co-authored by Parinita Gupta


Before joining any organization, everyone should ask one question to themselves, “Where will I see myself in the next 10 years.” This is one of the most diplomatic questions that I had ever heard from my Best friend who is an entrepreneur. Being a master’s graduate, I chose the best company, but my pal had some other plans. He started a company and became an entrepreneur. Though I was a Masters graduate from top B-School, I started my career right from the entry level. My friend and I started our careers together and now after 10 years of my career, I’m still at an upper-middle level position and my friend, he became one of the youngest entrepreneurs with 100% profit in his business.


Startup vs Corporate Job
Image Credit: Startus Magazine


Now I feel like, what if I had chosen something that might have fetched me a better position than a better pay scale. This article seems to be a little emotional for me, but I really want to share a few things which might help youngsters decide where they want to see themselves in the next 10 years. We are going to discuss the best things which might happen if you choose an MNC and a startup at the beginning of your career.


Startup vs Corporate: Pros and Cons


Organization Structure


Multinational companies are more structured workplaces with large teams, multiple hierarchies, better pay and secure in terms of job security while startups are still growing, unstructured /semi-structured, competitive and challenging and offer an average pay scale.


Career Growth


Startups are basically a place of passionate people. People who want to do something different than compared to others prefer startups in which some end up as an experiment or become the top MNC. An MNC is established, have a larger number of clients with fewer losses, well-developed structure and with more benefits. In terms of better performance and personal growth, Startups overtake MNCs.


Work Culture


Startup vs Big Company
Image Credit: CrazyEngineers

MNCs are already established. So they hire people who will handle the clients and deal with chaos; while in startups, the work environment is quite different. Every single assignment is a big task for employers.


Working hard, extending the working hours and right delivery according to the client requirement matters more than anything else in a startup. Every employer should be cross-functional where his major activity is to deal with the client by showing the performance.


Learning and Productivity


Startups push careers to the next level and initiate a super-fast growth in their career. Working in a startup company teaches you a lot of things. You become a problem solver, develop your capability, makes you more productive, tend to be a risk taker to deliver the best output and become successful in your life by taking you to a better position. Whereas in MNCs, the productivity is comparatively less, as the work is assigned by others and initiation towards the work is quite low.


In the corporate scenario, more often than not, employees prefer completing the task more than solving the problem. The most important drawback in an MNC is its internal growth or career growth is very low. Unless and until you are exceptionally talented, you won’t achieve a better position or growth in the organization.


Job Security (Stability)


The level of security in the job is relatively higher than startup’s but the transparency is less in MNC. In MNC, CEO is a person who takes the major decisions of the company. On the basis of a few reports and scales, CEO tends to make decisions for the company. In a startup, the founder or the CEO will also work along with the employees so the transparency of decisions will be high.


Startups seem better, right?


In simple words, working in the corporate means working hard in a recognized company where you can’t find your personal recognition and it takes years to get a better position but is financially secure and professionally stable. Working in startups is beneficial to the career. Initially it might give lesser pay scale, but later on, it has high value and help you to develop you professionally.


But, hang on. Should you quit your current job and join a startup? If you quit, are you going to be a good fit for the fast-paced startup work environment? Here are a few scenarios in which you shouldn’t join a startup.


Choosing a Startup vs Corporate Job


Supervision and Handholding


If you are the kind of employee who needs hand-holding by your manager, you would most probably struggle in a startup work environment.


Startups are for the self-initiated, doers and not talkers. Startups are definitely not for habitual cubical dreamers. If you are not a pro-active and a doer, then stick to your corporate job.


Training and Networking


You will learn more at a startup. As different job roles are not set in stone, you master the art of learn-do-and-deliver as and when the situation demands, irrespective of what your official title is. There is no official training or induction period in the startup world.


In the corporate world, you are given set targets, guidelines and its deadlines beforehand. You are expected to stick to them. You gradually ease into your specific role and work tends to become repetitive thereon.


Quite often, a corporate job will provide you with resources such as top-notch training. More importantly, the authority of your corporate brand name will help you network with the big boys.


Earnings (Salary and Payout)


While you might get more recognition and direct feedback in a startup, the most evident downside of making a switch from corporate to a startup is usually a pay cut.


Although, if the startup becomes successful, the ESOPs can make for a much bigger payout. But be careful, 9 out of 10 startups fail to make a big impact and 7 or 8 out of 10 startups actually shut down within 1 – 3 years. So, don’t ignore the odds.


Working Hours


If you think that the working hours in the corporate world are long, wait till you set your foot in the startup you have been eyeing all this while. The routine at an early-stage startup can be uber taxing and crazy.


Yes, startups do offer flexible work timings including work from home facilities. But, in the quest to scale up and grow exponentially, every startup employee is expected to chip in anytime, round the clock – be it the unexpected server crash last night or a barrage of consumer complaints after your beta launch.


In the corporate world, you are supposed to be working long hours from Monday to Friday. In the startup world, you are supposed to work till 3 am or on Sundays during crunch seasons.


Perks and Other Benefits


Startups provide their employees with–free food, sports bar, in-house gym, sleeping pods, free beer, bla bla bla. But, corporates give you the real deal. Fully covered health insurance, paid vacation for the family, business class travel, luxury club/spa memberships.


Fixed Job Responsibilities vs Multitasking


In the corporate world, individual roles are specific, well-defined and follow a certain order of precedence. For instance, an entry-level analyst is given a defined job responsibility, i.e. to munch data and prepare reports for the ‘associate’ who does his/her part and reports to the consultant. He does this day in, day out till the time he himself becomes an associate and there’s a new kid in his place.


In a startup, you have to wear multiple hats at the same time. In case you don’t know, in their initial days, the Bansals of Flipkart self-delivered books on their scooter. So, depending on the situation you can be the analyst, associate, coffee boy, plumber, delivery guy or any other requirement at that point in time.


Multitasking isn’t for everyone. If the corporate job sounds boring, the startup life can be overwhelming and emotionally draining. You need to figure out what works better for you.


Startup vs Big Company
Image Credit: OnlyMarketingJobs


How you can choose the between a Startup and an MNC


  • Before choosing any company try to do a self-SWOT analysis. Consider all your strengths and weakness first and then your opportunities and threats.
  • Your second step while choosing a company is by considering the customer and end targeted consumers. Costumers and consumers play a very important role. The more the customers, the more the consumers. If you are able to analyze the customers, then your responsibility in the office will become easier and simpler.
  • Third, undoubtedly, salary is important. Apart from the salary position growth will matter in the long run. Prefer those organizations where you will see better opportunities to grow. Rest growing in your career depends on your personal interests, hard work, and quality of work you perform in the organization as an individual.


If You Truly Want to make your Career, then You Should Be Working At Startups.


Few ways to find the startups to work at:


  • Signup at specialized hiring websites like AngelList, CutShort, Instahyre, Indeed, Wisdom, Fresher World, Jobspire, StartUpHire etc.
  • Use LinkedIn more often. LinkedIn is a place of business. It is specially designed for business activities and business promotions. You can really find many companies and better opportunities in LinkedIn.
  • If you already know a startup, connect with the founder through Linkedin or drop an email at the ‘Contact Us’ section of the website.


Remember one thing, every big company was once a startup. It became the topmost company just because of its performance for a better future and a position.

If you seek betterment, challenge yourself and go ahead. Even if you fail, it won’t matter much as it was your choice. You end up boosting yourself and become a successful person by making a better career.


How Career and Job Guidance Platforms Can Help You?


It’s absolutely fine if you are confused, feel stuck in your career path, or need personalized guidance with your career path and/or job search. We should opt for expert guidance. Additionally, to stay competitive in the job market, you should invest in our careers.


Quite often college students and working professionals fail to understand the importance of career guidance, career counseling, and mentoring. At Stoodnt, we offer a Free Career Guidance Test, On-Demand 1:1 counselling sessions, and also few other add-on services such as career roadmap development, CV/Resume review etc.


Apart from Stoodnt, there are many other career guidance platforms that can help you with your career journey. After all, we will promote our services. So, we will see what other experts are saying.


Q&A with Aditya Rajgarhia, Founder & CEO, Instahyre


1. What’s the main goal/objective of the Instahyre platform?


Career and Job Guidance
Aditya Rajgarhia – Insthyre

Aditya: Instahyre is an advanced hiring platform based on artificial intelligence, enabling recruiters to hire top talent effortlessly. Instead of having to waste hours on applying filters to search for the right candidates and then checking if they are interested, Instahyre provides the recruiter with a curated list of candidates ready for hire from our premium database. This enables the recruiter to spend more time on providing a top candidate experience, while Instahyre does the heavy lifting of providing quality profiles.


If you are looking for jobs, Instahyre connects you with curated opportunities based on your profile.

No fake jobs, no mass emails, and no spamming, unlike other platforms!


2. How is Insthyre different from other sites like Naukri, Monster etc.?


Aditya: Sites like Naukri and Monster provide recruiters with a “database” of candidates, forcing the recruiter to send bulk emails and rely on a “spray and pray” approach. Not only does this lead to very low conversions for recruiters, but candidates also get a large amount of spam and emails for non-matching jobs.


Instahyre is not database oriented, but rather, job or candidate-centric, matching one with the other!


3. Who is the primary target audience – College Students, Graduates or Seasoned Professionals?


Aditya: The audience is a combination of all.


4. What would be your message to students and job seekers regarding the importance of premium career counseling and investing in such services?


Aditya: The value of career counseling services would depend on the quality of the service. High-quality guidance provided in conjunction with industry requirements can be very beneficial in a country like India where most college graduates are not very employable. This should start at the school level itself and should be an ongoing activity rather than a one-time activity.


Q&A with Surabhi Dewra, Founder & CEO, CareerGuide


1. What’s the main goal/objective of the CareerGuide platform?


Career Counselling
Surabhi Dewra – CareerGuide

Surabhi: CareerGuide aims to help students across India – South East Asia and MENA countries in picking the right career, course, colleges.


There are numerous choices available around to understand  – which movie should one watch? Which gadget should one buy? which restaurant one should eat in? Which holiday destination to plan for? Which hotel to stay in? And so on and on and on – but when it comes to educational and career help, very little help is available.


CareerGuide hence aims at providing mentorship and guidance to students across – so that students can make informed choices and move ahead in life confidently and lead a more fulfilling life to their potential. 65% of India’s population is below the age of 30 and close to 28% is between the age of 0-14. Less than 1% – 3% of public schools in India have staffed career guidance counselors.


At CareerGuide – we help students through a host of psychometric tools and providing a real-time connection to a career counselor to help solve career queries. 


2. Who is the primary target audience – High School Students, College Students, Graduates, Seasoned Professionals, or a combination?


Surabhi: CareerGuide works with age group 14yrs – 23yrs old. It’s like from 9th grade to someone transitioning to the job market after higher education. 


3. Any add-on guidance/services (paid or unpaid) for job seekers and/or study abroad aspirants?


Surabhi: CareerGuide gives a host of freemium services to students. This is free 10 mins with career counselors, career booklets, and a shorter version of a psychometric test. Beyond this, we have paid services for students priced as low as Rs. 2,000. They can have personalized career planning. We have study abroad services and application assistance in Indian colleges too. 


4. Do you think an average student or job-seeker in India are reluctant to pay for guidance services (e.g. counselling session, CV review, interview prep etc.)?


Surabhi: Actually, I will disagree with the statement that students are reluctant to pay for above-mentioned services. College fees, application process, and coaching industry have become so expensive that parents and students these days want to be surer before investing in them through career counselling services. 


Why enroll in a competitive coaching exam if you are not sure what careers that will map to and so on? Hence, I don’t see the reluctance in paying for the services. However, I do see – there is a lack of awareness and efficacy about these services and hence students not sure where to ask for help or will service be beneficial for them. 


5. What would be your message to students and job seekers regarding the importance of premium career counselling and investing in such services?


Surabhi: I will say – the cost of Pizza Outing, Movie Outing costs more than the cost of a session of personalized career planning.


Invest in it for not just money, but its investment of time also. So invest with your heart and mind in it. Make use of time with the counselor.

The entire process could be life-changing. And even if it’s not – it will help to a great extent in navigating through the entire clutter of information available on the internet about career choices. 


Q&A with Sameer Kamat, Founder, Careerizma


Career Counselling
Sameer Kamat – Careerizma

1. What is the main objective of the Careerizma platform?


Sameer: Generate awareness about the range of career opportunities available across industries and the skills needed to be successful in those roles.


At Careerizma, users can put their knowledge to good use by sharing it. Win-win for everyone!


2. Who is the primary audience?


Sameer: Students who are starting their careers and professionals who are hoping to achieve vertical and horizontal transitions in their fields.


3. Any add-on services that you would like to share with our readers?


Sameer: Add-on services:

Free Services: Self-branding opportunity for students and professionals who want to improve their online visibility and present their domain knowledge to a wider audience.

Paid Services: None, so far!


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

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