Big Corporations or Startups?

Which suits your career needs better at the moment?

Whether you are just starting out or have been an active member of the working society, you must have probably heard of a few startup and big corporation names. You must also have probably come across the dilemma of having to choose which to go for – the safe, structured and littered with perks big corporation? Or the gritty, challenging, solve-everything-by-yourself startup?

To be completely truthful, there is no definitive answer. It all depends on what kind of career trajectory that you are aiming for and which one will be the best to fulfil that needs.


The difference

A startup is, as the name suggested, a company that has just started out based on an idea or a service that its founders believe could be the next big thing. A startup usually operates on small funds and crafted by a small to medium-size team. Several big successful businesses such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all actually ‘started out in a garage’ which is an endeavour term for startups back in the days.

Whilst a big corporation is a large scale, well-established, run on the mill, deal with shareholders and board directors-type of business. Big corporations employ massively, up to 100 to 500 employees that team up in numerous departments. These companies are quite stable and reaping profits left and right thus often come with attractive package and higher hiring salary compared to startups in the initial stage.


Their Traits

Come and work with us! We are an exciting team with passion and an informal work environment. Ditch the suit and tie and the 9-to-5, we also provide free food!

Does this sound familiar to you? Startups often use the excitement and ‘work in your sweatpants’ strategy to attract new joiners. Since startups are mostly a small group, they focus on culture fit and are on the look-out for specific talents that can contribute and make up what their process is lacking. These are people with goals to achieve and growth to chase. Most of them are passionate in what they do and believe in their project. Working in a startup means that you will be solving most of the problems yourself as the company is in a growth phase and probably have not live long enough to see all the problems yet and will most likely not have list of solutions prepared. Their offer will not be as high and look as tempting on your pay check as big corporations do but a startup’s enthusiasm and space for growth means that you will be facing a lot of challenges and you will grow in ways that you never imagine.

As much as that sounds tempting, the possibility of long work hours and unpaid or underpaid OT will have you think twice. There is also the uncertainty of whether or not the project will take off and making profit as promised. But if you are on the right side of the coin, a successful startup will have you vacationing later on for life!


Our company provides attractive salary, medical benefits, housing allowance and quarterly bonus based on performance.

On the opposite, big corporations offer a much more comprehensive package when it comes to salary and employees’ benefits. They have been caring for hundreds of employees and so you know that you will be taken care of as well. Big corporations are well-known names in the market, getting hired by one also means that your peers, relatives and family will be impressed and that feels good! You don’t have to explain what your company does and what your position title means (as you might have to when working with a startup). People already know.

However, on the flipside you may only be one part of a ten steps process. Big corporations are like giant machine with all its parts working together to complete one big task. This means that you will likely focus on one job and that job only. There will be lesser room to grow and certain times it will very difficult to stand out amongst the hundreds or to pitch an out-of-the-box idea and getting it accepted.


Your Needs

Personality & Working Styles

If you are someone who loves challenges, endless brainstorming sessions and cracking your head to find a solution then you should consider going for a startup. This doesn’t mean that big corporations don’t have challenges but you will likely have another specialized team or department that you can refer to about a specific problem. Working in a startup can feel quite relax at times and doing the heavy hustle at other, it’s often very hard to be in between. So worklife-balance can be a tad bit out of sorts. But if you are looking for time flexibility and like to work on your own schedule, a startup can give you just that.

If you are a person who prefers having a routine, defined responsibilities that does not jump out of scope and a well-structured working process, big corporations will offer you as such. If you require job security and stability, working with big corporations will be rather more secure in terms of compensation. Worklife-balance is also considerably better as works are rarely being carried out of worktime (and you have a right to refuse if it does).


Career aspirations

If it’s your goal to be really good at one thing, big corporation will teach you as such. You will be working under a supervisor in a big corporation where you will get to hone your communication skills, active listening, ability to follow through and execute instructions and learning how to manage working relationship with colleagues. Working under supervision is not necessarily a nuisance as what people may have you believe. Under the right supervision you will learn a lot just by doing your day-to-day job. Even if you are under a poor supervision, you will still learn on what works and what doesn’t in terms of people management. Observation is the key. Looking to prepare yourself to sit on the higher seat one day, big corporation environment will be your learning grounds. When opportunity arises, you will be ready to climb another step up the corporate ladder and eventually sit on the corporate throne.

In a startup, you will have to learn to be resourceful and willing to learn more and do more to solve your problems. Instead of being managed, you will have to pick up the role and manage yourself – and sometimes even others as well. You will learn a great deal about project management, decision-making, risks analysis and multitasking. Entering a startup environment is like jumping into action without much preparation. It can be quite fast-paced as you can be learning ten things at one time. A startup environment can really teach you to be massive multitasker and a worker of many roles. At times, this can be quite stressful and you may have to pick up a book or two about managing your emotions. However, fast and intense also means your career will be taking off like a jet. You can start as an entry-level role and be at a senior-level in half a year.


Despite the differences, it is advisable to try working for both big corporations and startups. Experiencing the two working environments can give you valuable lessons and adaptable skills. You shouldn’t limit yourself to what you think may favour your situation more. If you are a spontaneous worker and think that you require more discipline then go for the opposite kind of a routine corporate job. Perhaps a job that you think will not work for you is actually the career that will be your calling for life.