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#CareerCon2019: Succeeding in a Corporate or Startup Setting


August 18 • 12 min read

Each company has its ups and downs, its pros and cons, and knowing which is which in corporations and in startups will help you know where (and how) you can best succeed

While the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side (of the fence)” wasn’t originally coined to refer to careers and companies, it is probably most used when comparing certain aspects of work. These days, continued digital advancements have provided us with another comparative quandy- that between startups and corporations.

As new tech has become increasingly available, entrepreneurs with modest budgets and resources (but big ideas) have, now more than ever, the opportunity to realize their vision by way of a start-up company. Of course, never to lag behind, many established corporations have also taken to the digital age by either integrating new tech into their product, services, and overall process, and even buying and establishing startups as subsidiaries.

With that, comparisons between the two are a constant, with those working in one desiring certain aspects that are more common to the other.

Those working in startups, for example, often get jealous when they hear of the big salaries, comprehensive benefits, and huge holiday parties their friends at corporate companies often have. On the other hand, corporate employees can’t help but imagine what their lives could be like if they join their startup friends who work flexible hours, are always in new projects, and getting promoted in a shorter time frame.

So which is better?

The answer, expectedly, differs between each person, with the better questions being, what are your career goals? Are a big salary with gaudy benefits the end-game? Do you want to have enough time for your family or personal life? Is training and enhancing your skills a priority? Do you want to just time-in and time-out and cash a check, your do you want to build something even if there are no monetary guarantees?

What isn’t considered too often when choosing between the two is which is better for your career at the moment and in the long run. Fortunately, there are professionals like Monolith Growth Consulting CEO Kenn Costales, who shared some insight at the first ever CareerCon held last July at the Dusit Thani Hotel about succeeding in a corporate or startup setting.

Be proactive

In startups, where products, services, and processes are hardly ever set in stone, most work done is commonly a result of individual initiatives, and it is understandably why its working conditions feel a little more demanding. If you are not a natural initiator, it may be best to learn how to be one quick, or choose a corporate role instead.

According to Costales, “In start ups, working smart often comes after working hard, as the latter helps you to discover or develop the best ways to work.” So while a little risky, a startup may be ideal if you are keen on helping build a company and establish its processes, even if there is a chance that some of what  you and your colleagues do will be for naught.

Consider how much (or how little) structure your need

Speaking of processes, Costales also shared that a corporate setting is often ideal for professionals who thrive on structure. “In corporations, operations are more streamlined, and there are more people issues. In startups, there are more operation issues.”

While corporations are ideal in that time, resources, and even your own energy and efforts is better accounted for, there is also a rigidity to one. As the saying goes, “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, and as corporations have existed long and gotten where they are because of a refined process, room for new ideas can often be slim.

It is here where you consider how important it is to you to make an impact in your company. Costales shares, “If in a corporation, you often sigh and think, ‘Management does not listen to ideas,’ then startups might be better for you.”


Another aspect of a startup is how quickly you’ll learn different skills when you work in one. The reason? Because you’ll often have to. Modest funding means a modest team, and not every of the business’s operations will have an employee responsible for it.

So as part of startup, there will be plenty of instances where you may need to also take on tasks that are not officially part of your job, but slightly related to it. So don’t be surprised if you are designing a website one day, and then suddenly helping pitching it to the client the next.

Learning as you go is great, but keep in mind that this may not be training in a formal (and certifiable) sense. As Costales mentioned, “Unlike corporations, which  tend to have established training programs, skills get passed through ‘talk knowledge.’ So you’ll need to own your learning plan, be it asking for funding for a course, or paying it yourself. But, if you still think, ‘I don’t get enough training.’ Then large corporations may be the choice for you.”

Work hard… and benefit from either

No. There’s no company where you can get away with not working hard to succeed. Sure, where you will be best suited will depend on what had already been mentioned here, as well as other aspects, but whether you choose to work in a startup or a more corporate set-up, you’ll still have to put in the hours and sacrifice a little blood, sweat, and tears.

Depending on where you are in your career, and life, you may actually want to consider working for both (not at the same time). According to Costales, being young and still figuring where you fit can be the best time to do this. “When you’re young, invest in yourself, because this is when you have the most time available to do so.”

“Your twenties is a great time to take on a risk on startups, because you’re likely sans a family and familial responsibilities. So a lot of your time and energy can be dedicated to meeting its demands. There are pros if you are older too, because startups are less structured, where you have flexi-time and can work remotely.”

He adds, “Corporate is also a good choice for young pros, because it means there’s time to slowly climb the corporate ladder, and take advantage of the more formal learning it can provide. Those older can also look to corporate for structure, and for the more secure pay and benefits they need for their families and other responsibilities.”

Raring to take a look at corporate and startup jobs to make your choice? Sign up at Kalibrr and be connected to thousands of employers, today!

Kalibrr is a technology company that aims to transform how candidates find jobs and how companies hire talent. Placing the candidate experience at the center of everything it does, the company continues to attract the best talent from all over, with over 2.3 million professionals and counting. Kalibrr ultimately connects these talents to companies in search of their next generation of leaders.

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About The Writer

Hello, my name is Karina and I work as a freelance contributor at Kalibrr. I enjoy reading self-improvement books and working out. More about Karina

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