One of the most popular question we receive from students within the program is “Where should I work, a start up or a large more established company?” Once students from the DevMountain program are ready to head out into the world with their newly acquired skills, we tell them to “not just take any ol’ job.” The company a beginning dev settles in with will have a lot to do with overall career trajectory and happiness. It is important for a new web developer to internally ask some questions to find out if they are wanting to work at a startup or if they should stick with a large company. Much of this will come down to personal preference and the pros vs the cons which we have tried to identify today in this article.
The Company is Established
When you work for a company that's been around for years, you know that you'll have a job from year to year. There's less chance of failure when you're part of an established company. While job security is never a guarantee, it's unlikely that you'll walk in one day to find that the company has folded.
Processes in Place
There will be a period of training when you take a new position in an established company. There'll likely be someone to train you in the culture and rules of the business as well as the processes required for your specific job description. Only in extreme circumstances will you be pushed into a position without proper training and processes in place.
With an established, large company, you can bank on the fact that you'll be paid better than you would at a startup. Established businesses have the customers in place with funds coming in to pay their workers. They can also provide competitive benefits packages to new employees.
With a large company, there are more positions available. This means there are more opportunities for an employee to advance to higher management and more responsibilities. With this extra responsibility comes a direct spike in the pay they'll take home.
Personal Initiative isn't Encouraged
In a large company, there's a culture that many employees must conform to, and they might not have an issue with that. Everyone sticks to their job duties and never stray from what's required. Initiative isn't encouraged or rewarded in a corporate environment.
Many Workers on the Project
When there are many co-workers involved in the same project, it can slow things down considerably. As an individual, it might be difficult to make your voice heard among the personalities involved in the project. There's no real chance to make yourself stand out when part of corporate culture.
Not a ton of room for growth
Typically in a large company, higher leadership positions are filled by those who have been with the organization for a long time. Whereas at a startup, as the startup experiences growth, that means the startup is looking for leadership and managers to build out teams and processes. Typically a startup looks internally at employees already on staff to fill these newly created positions.
When you work for a startup, you'll have the unique experience of seeing it grow and flourish from the beginning. Employees of a startup will often don many hats in the performance of their jobs. For example, a coder will have to be able to learn quick marketing techniques to help out others in the office.
Room to Grow and Learn
Some startup employees start in one position and will quickly move to others. One day, they're learning about SEO and the next, they are working on redesigning a product or service for customers. There's room to grow with the startup as it does too. Eventually, a startup could turn into a valuable business that is able to pay its employees. That means you're in on the ground floor to see how it has evolved.
Innovation and Personal Initiative are Valued
When there are less voices in the company, your personal initiative and the innovation you bring to the workplace are valued. This is unlike the large corporation where there are processes in place that can't be varied. With no processes in place, you're able to work as you see fit, which is freeing.
Startups are run by entrepreneurs who value the contributions of their employees. Bosses at a startup allow working from home and shorter work weeks in some cases. While they often expect more hours, those hours are incredibly flexible. They understand the lifestyle of the remote worker and telecommuting if that makes employees more productive.
When employees are not telecommuting, startups are usually full of people who are incredibly casual. It's one of the perks to working for a startup. There's often a group of young people working together and brainstorming the next steps in the business. It's an environment full of creativity and relaxed work.
Startups have to be incredibly creative when considering the benefits for their employees. They can't offer the best pay or benefits package, so they will offer free food during the work day, or free access to a gym or health facility along with the flexible work schedule.
Need to Adapt to Changing Job Duties
Anyone who is rigid about sticking with their assigned job duties won't love working for a startup where they might be doing marketing, coding and customer service in the same day.
Pay is Low
As mentioned above, the pay is quite low. This is why startups will create a fun, casual work place for its employees. As the company grows, that pay might increase.
No Job Security
A startup isn't the most secure work place. It's the seed of an idea that might flower into an amazing company, or it could wilt and die. This could be a problem for those who have huge responsibilities in their lives like mortgages and children.
Along with many responsibilities in the day, there are not enough people in a startup to perform all the tasks that need to be accomplished each day. This can lead to long hours and a heavy workload.
Lack of Strong Work Leadership
The boss is usually the one who came up with the fantastic idea for the business, but they are not always the best leader. Often, the entire team will work as a group with no one being a clear leader. This could work depending on the group dynamic.
Overall, you have to consider which factors are essential to help you work toward your goals. Will you do better with an always evolving, “think outside the box”-type mentality, or a structured environment that allows you to methodically work toward your goals? Neither is better than the other—just different. And it completely depends on your personality, work style, and unique needs to determine which will be the best for you and your career.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of organizations, and you'll need to decide in what kind of environment you'd like to work.