Should You Be Working At A Startup Or Big Company?

September 18, 2020 Stephanie Klemperer

working at a startup

Whether you are a recent grad or an experienced professional, it’s a question we all ask at some point in our careers: Should I be working at a startup or big company?

This is a very important question since your decision can have an impact on everything from your work environment to overall career satisfaction. However, your answer really depends on you. While both paths can offer fantastic opportunities for growth, you might find that one is a better fit for your personality and career goals.

On a basic level, for example, startups are typically known for their flexibility and cool “perks,” while bigger companies often offer more predictability and strong brand recognition. However, it’s important to take a deeper dive to determine which type of company is right for you. In some cases, you may even decide that you want to try both out. Nevertheless, here is what you can expect from working at a startup and a bigger company:


Predictability: At startups, everyone is expected to pitch in. Since the work can be fast-paced and ever-changing, startup employees need to be flexible, accountable, and self-sufficient. For instance, one day you can be focused on the role you were hired for, and the next, you could be helping your team prepare for a sales pitch. This type of environment gives you insight into a variety of positions, which can help you diversify your skills and explore new career paths.

Impact + growth opportunities: By working at a startup—especially in the early stages—every employee has a powerful impact. With a lot on the line, your accomplishments (and mistakes) will be highly visible throughout the organization. You could also have the opportunity to influence key decisions as founders and other leaders of startups will often turn to their employees for inspiration and insight. However, growth at a startup can look a lot different. While you’ll have many opportunities to expand your skills and diversify your experience, the horizontal hierarchy may make it more difficult to move into leadership positions.

Benefits: Startups tend to cultivate fairly relaxed cultures where employees may enjoy “perks” like food stipends, flexible hours, and generous vacation policies. In such a close-knit environment, many of these companies also try to place an emphasis on team building activities. These may include things like virtual or in-person happy hours, trivia, or volunteer opportunities.

Big companies

Predictability: At bigger companies, where roles, hours, and other internal processes are more clearly defined, there tends to be a greater sense of order at work. On most days, for example, you may know what is specifically expected of you—giving you a more predictable schedule and set of day-to-day tasks.

Impact + growth opportunities: Corporate jobs tend to be focused in one specific area, making this a great environment for those who know what direction they want their career to go in. As an “expert” in your specialty, this allows you to hone the skills needed for growth without needing to split your time between unrelated responsibilities. Regarding promotions, corporations also tend to have formal policies in place—giving you opportunities throughout the year to meet the criteria. However, there is sometimes more red tape to get through in order to climb the ladder.

Benefits: In addition to health insurance, corporations can offer some pretty significant benefits like gym reimbursement, retirement plans, childcare, and corporate discounts. In fact, many large companies are continuously evaluating their benefits to improve the employment experience for top talent and remain competitive.

Deciding between working at a startup or a bigger company is an important decision. Whether you need help making it or would like to explore opportunities at one of these organizations, a recruiter can be an excellent person to have in your corner! With connections at startups and corporations, they can help you identify positions that align with your personality, preferences, and career goals, and be there to advise you through this important career move. Connect with us today!

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