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When it comes to your job search, you always want to do what's best for you and your career. Oftentimes, it can come down to choosing between  a startup or a corporate company. Startups are companies that are in the early stages with few employees, whereas corporations are established and have hundreds of employees. With the rise in remote work, work-life balance has been a huge priority, and startups seem able to appeal to that best. Some additional benefits of working at a startup include more flexibility, faster growth in the company, and working with smaller teams. Corporations can draw you in with the stability and organization that they have equipped over time.Here are some key differences between working at a startup vs a corporate company to help you put your best foot forward in your career.

Working at a Startup

  • A broad scope of work.With a startup, you could have your hands in many projects that require different skills. For example, you may manage a team, occasionally create social media posts, and write for the company blog.
  • Working with smaller teams. There may be fewer moving parts at your startup which makes it more effective to get it done with a smaller team or even individually.
  • Less structure. Startups are less formal and have less structure. With less structure, it promotes self-management and ownership. Allowing employees to create their own guidelines for their departments.
  • Fluctuating benefits and salary. With a smaller number of employees, benefits may be limited and pay isn't generally good early on. Hard work and long hours don’t automatically mean a huge payout. Startups are often still working on getting funding,  so money can be tight.

Working at a Corporation

  • Stable benefits and salary. Larger companies often offer a range of benefits for insurance options. It is also certain that you will always get paid, no matter what.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities. You have a specific role and job that will rarely change day-to-day.
  • Bigger teams with group work. You're one employee of hundreds or thousands which means you will have access to a larger network of people.
  • More structure and leadership. There is more order when it comes to larger companies. For example, there could be set training that takes place weekly for everyone to learn the same skill. There are manuals and guidelines that map out clean-cut procedures for your job.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to the size of the company that works best for you, but there can be pros and cons to both startups and corporations. Here are the advantages and disadvantages when working at a startup or corporation.

Pros of working at a start-up

  • Making a difference. With a startup, there is a small number of employees and smaller teams that work together. You will be able to see how your job impacted the company's goal for a certain project. The work you do will always make a difference because every part is vital.
  • Large scope of work. As mentioned earlier you will be able to have your hands on a lot of projects. Your jobs may vary throughout the workweek allowing you to expand different skill sets.
  • Leadership opportunities. With a startup it is often easier to move up the work ladder.Employees are given more opportunities to show off their skill set and this allows you to advance quickly, whereas with a corporation there are hundreds of employees and it may be difficult to stand out or for your hard work to be recognized.


Cons of working at a startup

  • Wearing too many hats. Maybe you don't want to be hands-on with every aspect of the job. For example, if your title is graphic designer then that's the only project you want to be hands-on with, not coding and software development too.
  • Smaller pool of mentors. With startups being in the early stages the roles are loosely defined. You may be the first one that has held that position, and you could be given free rein on how you want that position to work.
  • Less structure. If you are big on organization and structure, being a part of a startup could be difficult. Startups in the early stages have minimal structure and are often focused on amplifying the presence of their products.

Pros of working at a corporation

  • The roles at a corporation are defined and allow you to focus on the major skill that you possess for that position. You will rarely be completing tasks outside of your role.
  • Stable salary and benefits. As mentioned earlier, larger companies are often more stable when it comes to providing salaries and benefits for their employees.
  • Access to mentorship. Larger companies often can provide a role model for your position that you can learn from. For example, this could be a manager that began in your position, now they can guide you not only through the job functions but through your onboarding process and questions you may have.

Cons of Working at a Corporation

  • Slow movement. If you are looking for a fast-paced environment and quickly get into a leadership position, this may not be the best move for your career. Also, company goals for certain projects can take longer to accomplish.
  • Older software or tools. Just like the saying “if it's not broke don't fix it,” corporations tend to incorporate that when it comes to software and tools. Corporations are big on uniformity and like to continue working with the same technology that they know works, not necessarily the newest.
  • Narrow scope of work. If you know that you have many passions and skillsets that you would like to utilize often, corporations may not have opportunities for that. With larger companies, you will perform the same functions on your job each day.

With employees continuing to shift from corporations to startups, deciding where to go can be difficult.  If you are still stuck on which company is best for the next step in your career, check out this startup vs corporation flowchart from AngelList to help you determine which one.

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