Employer Insight: Corporate vs. Startups

Susan Zheng is the co-founder and CEO of Lynxsy, a mobile recruitment marketplace for companies to hire junior, non-technical talent. Previously, she was an early employee at Tough Mudder where she helped the company grow from 10 to 200 in two years. She graduated from NYU Stern with a degree in Finance and International Business.

Corporate, Startup. Startup, Corporate.

Is your head spinning yet? We understand. When you’ve graduated and don’t have a clear career path, it can be difficult to decide in which direction you should set off on your journey. You could enter the ranks of a large business in the corporate sphere. Or you could become a team member at a small startup. It’s all up to you.

As for which you should choose, there’s no right answer. We can’t tell you which path is right, but here’s some info to help you in your decision-making process:

Pros of the Corporate Path

  • Analyst Class Cohorts of first years often get hired by big corporations at the same time each year. Having a peer group in the the same performance and training cycle means you’ll have some people to share in your journey, and even make friends with.
  • Formal Onboarding You’ll have a more concrete job description and there will be an HR process to support your initiation into the job.
  • Guided Professional Development A large company is going to have resources in place to further your career development. You can anticipate formal training days, speakers and mentor meetings to be on your schedule.
  • Huge Clients You’ll get an inside peek at some of the biggest brands and companies, ones you’ve only read about in headlines.
  • Best Practices With years of experience, they’ll have tried and true systems of organization in place.

Cons of the Corporate Path:

  • Cog in the Wheel When you’re working in a 10,000+ employee organization, it’s easier to feel that your contributions are just a drop in the bucket. You won’t be able to see your impact or position and importance within the company as visibly.
  • Bureaucracy This is what people mean when they say “working for the man.” Politics are more likely to play a role in decision-making and hiring. Competition in the corporate world may be fierce, so you’ll have to get your game face on.
  • Slow Movement Things aren’t as fast-moving, so you may not see the result of a project for months or years. This also means that you’ll need to put in more time to move up the corporate ladder.

And now…

Pros of the Startup Path:

  • Visible Impact In a small organization, every contribution you make has a greater visible impact. A startup could go from having 50 users to 1,000 while you’re there, so you’ll be able to see the outcome of your hard work more clearly.
  • Ownership & Responsibility Because it is a smaller company, you’ll feel more personal ownership. It’ll be less about doing work because others tell you to do it, and more about you doing it because you care about moving the ball forward.
  • Acceleration Startups move quickly, as will your place within one if you put in the work. There’ll be a greater opportunity to accelerate your career, as your roles could be changing and growing daily.
  • See the Full Org When you’re working with a smaller team, you’ll get a better grasp of the structure and going-ons of the entire organization. Because your role will likely be less narrow than it would at a larger company, you’ll be in touch with every function of the startup, from marketing to product to tech.
  • Training Ground A startup is a great training ground if you want to found a company one day. Take notes. Fewer Formalities The environment is bound to be much more relaxed. You likely won’t see many suits walking around.

Cons of the Startup Path:

  • On-the-Job Training The edges of your training will be a little more blurred because it will most likely be more of a learning by doing versus a learning from others situation. On a small team, you may not have a manager looking over you, or telling you what to do, so be ready to hop right in and be self-directed.
  • Flying Solo At a startup, recruiting will be on more of a rolling basis. Don’t expect a batch of peers at the same level as you, like in a traditional analyst class. Unless it’s a larger startup, hires will be one-off based on need, and more focused on the individual.
  • No Formal Processes While more established firms may have systems of organization in place, at a startup you may be the one creating them.
  • A Level of Uncertainty Expect ambiguity. You’ll be asked to rise to the occasion on more than one opportunity.

These points are generalizations of the differences between startups and corporations. Do you gravitate towards one or other? Which environment appeals to you most? Use these points as a guide to when you’re weighing your options. And when it comes down to it, go with your gut. You can always switch it up later once you have some experience!

Learn more about Lynxsy and explore their open positions here.
And don’t forget to attend the Start-up Industry Expo on April 2nd!