Whether you want to work at a startup or in corporate, there are pros and cons to each. Here at Kalibrr, we believe that there is no right or wrong job out there—there’s simply the one that’s best for you, at this point in time, given the person that you are right now.
At the end of the day, working at a startup or at a corporate job can both be equally fulfilling. In order to determine which path is best for you, here are 5 questions to help you decide.
1. What’s my risk profile?
Companies and startups vary in their degree of risk due to the nature of their business.
With big multi-nationals, one benefit you’re more likely to get (over joining a startup) is stability. Given their scale and history, corporations have higher odds of sticking around because they’re already established.
And as for startups: they can’t guarantee you how long they’ll be around, but they do promise an interesting ride while you’re there. To make it worth your while, they offer unconventional benefits in return, such as flexible time and remote working set-ups.
Neither answer is better than the other. Question is: which of these do you value more? Stability and predictability, or dynamism with flexibility? It all boils down to how much risk you’re willing to take. Of course, it goes without saying that all jobs have a possibility of risk—you just lower your chances when you choose one kind over the other.
2. What’s my working style like?
Large-scale corporations have strict procedures for a reason: they’re just too huge! In order to manage their immense employee population, and to lower their odds of human error, it’s much better that everybody operate by certain guidelines. You must follow rules and execute what’s asked of you. By-the-book worker bees thrive in corporate environments, and are rewarded for it.
Startups, on the other hand, are innovative by nature: they’re constantly changing things to survive—roles, processes, offices, you name it.
If you want to work in a startup, you’re more likely to succeed if you can stomach the constant change. A few helpful traits? Being willing to work on the fly; always challenging the status quo; learning to be creative and resourceful; etc.
If you’re the type of employee who can adapt easily, then a startup could possibly be for you.
Ultimately, you should ask: where does your working style best fit in?
3. What environment helps me produce my best work?
Aside from asking yourself what your working style is like, it’s also good to ask yourself which external factors help you produce your best work. For example: you can be a creative person, but need constraints to your creativity—or else you won’t get work done at all. Or you could be the person who always follows the rules but never steps up in their career because they never challenge the status quo.
When it comes to choosing between working in corporate or at a startup, ask yourself: what kind of environment do I need to make myself a more competent candidate? What surroundings actually leverage on my skills yet tame them at the same time to bear the best fruit? Never underestimate the role your surroundings play on your development.
4. What kind of work culture do I enjoy?
Most corporations have a more formal culture where there’s a clear line between your professional and personal self. Startups, on the other hand, usually encourage their employees to be the same at work as they are at home, as long as their work gets done and they’re respectful to others—no matter how informal they get.
Others appreciate the clear differentiation because it lets them compartmentalize the ins and outs of daily life. They could also appreciate the requirements of a formal culture: dressing up smartly, attending swanky work lunches, etc.
Others, on the other hand, don’t see why they can’t just go to work in jeans and sneakers. And they would prefer other benefits, like being able to bring their pet to work instead of expensive meals out. Deciding which culture helps you be your better self is an important factor to consider.
5. What kind of skills am I trying to develop?
Usually, job roles are more defined in corporations because there are already so many employees—this narrowing in your job description helps you specialize in your role and be the best at it so you don’t overlap with others.
In startups, your roles are usually constantly changing, with you pitching in doing multiple tasks that are sometimes unrelated—because that’s what the company needs to survive at that stage.
When it comes to choosing between one over the other, asking yourself what skills you’d like to develop is key because you learn different things in different environments—just know what exactly those are, early on.
A Bias to Action
At the end of the day, while these questions can help point you to the right direction, you’ll never be able to know for sure until you choose. We hope our guide has helped shed some light, but we also encourage you to give yourself a timeline on when you should choose.
There are many other factors involved in choosing the right job aside from the company type: the role itself, your personal considerations, your salary, and much more. As long as you’re doing your research, we’re sure you’ll end up with a great job—in corporate, at a startup, or otherwise.