Startup or corporate: where do you belong?

One of the first decisions a new college graduate is forced to make, whether they realize it or not is do they want to go to work for a fledgling startup company or join the ranks at a large, long standing corporate company.

Many young people get tunnel vision and think only in terms of industry sectors, and find themselves ruminating over questions like, “Do I want to work in finance or would I be better suited for accounting?” These often daunting types of questions likely stem from the academic world’s intense focus on technical skill sets and areas of expertise, all of which are important; but they are by no means the only factor one should consider when searching for a place to begin his/her career.

Aside from being a good fit for a particular company in terms of skill set or academic background, it is also important to consider whether they would be a good culture fit. This is a quality overlooked all too often among young job seekers. Many see job postings or opportunities that fit into the cookie cutter degree they’ve just earned and frantically pounce on it like some sort of crazed predator. Of course it is all well and good to pursue career opportunities zealously, it can lead some to form ‘blinders’ and not consider whether they’d actually be happy where they end up.

I personally have friends with the same job title as me who currently work for large corporate recruiting firms who made this very mistake. They ferociously attacked their job search right out the gate of graduation, received a job offer, and accepted it without a second thought because hey, it’s a job right? Low and behold, after only a few months of working at the company they started to realize that the corporate work place might not be the best fit for them. They become unhappy with the narrow scope of their job and yearned for more variety and responsibility. They are now seeking a job elsewhere that will allow them to wear more hats, take on more responsibilities, and give them the creative tools to one day move up in the workforce whether within a company or beginning their own.

Of course I understand their decision to accept a job as fast as possible following college, and corporate companies can be a great fit for many, as they offer set working hours, benefits, and often clear, predictable career trajectories to higher management positions. Many people, including many of my friends, have happy budding careers at large corporate companies. It all boils down to where you fit.

In short, young job seekers must weigh the benefits and shortcomings of the businesses they are interested in, not just in terms of whether they may be a good professional fit, but whether they would be a good ‘cultural fit’ as well; because at the end of the day it is extremely important to find a place where you’re happy, or you may find yourself burnt out.


Let us know: Do you work for a large corporate company or a smaller startup? What's your favorite part of working for your company?