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Work with Startup or Established Company? What are the differences?

Getting your first job can be definitely exciting, at the same time a bit nerve-wracking. Although the job security and stability an established company offers is beneficial for long-term careers, a lot of startups are competing for your attention nowadays. They believe fresh graduates are not attracted to the compartmentalized job roles seen in big corporations.

With worthwhile opportunities for neophyte job seekers, they now have the chance to improve and expand their skill set in a shorter span of time. This is especially true for most startups, as employees climb the corporate ladder faster and are assigned several different roles to determine their strengths.

However, will landing a startup job be the ideal choice for you? Figuring out the type of work environment that best suits you is just as essential as which company you want to be a part of. To help you decide which path is best for you, here are the differences between startups and established companies.
Startup Job vs. Corporate Life

Working for a Startup

When you hear the word “startup”, you might associate it with working with a bunch of employees in their twenties, clustered together in a small office. Although this is the usual setup for many startups, the thing is – the working environment in a startup may change, which may affect an employee’s schedule.

If you decide to enter this type of work environment, here are pros and cons of working for them.


  • Offers a unique experience – Working in a startup will offer a unique experience of seeing the company grow and become successful. Aside from that, most startups offer a favorable work environment, with some having skateboarding hallways and gaming rooms. These amenities contribute to a stimulative workplace that fosters creativity and innovation which are essential for a company’s growth. 
  • A casual environment – Startups are typically composed of incredibly casual people and young individuals, who are working together for the success of the business. It is the type of work environment where creativity and the culture of casualness thrive. 
  • There’s room for improvement and learning – In a startup, you’ll start in one position and move to others after some time. For example, you’re tasked with content writing at one time and the next, you are learning marketing techniques to help out others with a similar job. 


  • Job stability is not guaranteed – Since startups are seeds of an idea that might flourish into a successful company, they have the tendency to wilt or die. Although most startups have brilliant ideas and secure enough money to operate, without strong mentors and experienced leaders, job stability will be affected. 
  • Demanding workload – If you decide to work for a startup, expect to be bombarded with many tasks in the day, as there are not enough staff in the company to perform all the responsibilities that need to be done each day. This can result in long work hours and a demanding workload. 
  • Low pay - Typically, investors don’t pump most of their funds into employees’ salaries, as they are focused on the startup’s operating costs and development. For this reason, salaries tend to be lower with startups than with established companies. 

Working for an Established Company

If you are an individual who doesn’t mind working in a structured and organized work environment, then an established company might be ideal for you.  Your job will come with a list of very specific tasks which will be outlined for you. Although established companies are not impervious to economic ups and downs, entry-level positions are typically stable.

Apart from that, here are some points why you may or may not work for an established company.


  • Less Chance of Failure – There’s no such thing as a secure job these days but working for an established company is typically less precarious than a startup.  Established companies have been around for years and offer greater security, allowing you to sleep better at night. 
  • Pay is better -  Big companies usually offer larger salaries than a startup. Aside from that, they can provide additional benefits to new employees such as training courses and corporate trips. 
  • Opens more doors of opportunities – Being a part of a large, established company for at least 2 years can make a big difference in your CV, and opens a lot of doors if you move in another company within the same industry. So when looking for a new job, make sure to use this to your advantage. 


  • Not Enough Opportunities for Growth – In an established company, higher managerial positions are already filled by employees who have been part of the organization for a long time. This is contrary to a startup where growth equates to opportunities, as the company is looking for new leaders to manage teams and processes. Typically, startups internally hire employees already on staff to fill these new positions. 
  • Difficult to make your voice heard – When working on a team at an established company, sometimes you’ll be involved in the same project where it’s difficult to make your voice heard amongst many co-workers. That’s why it’s difficult to make yourself stand out when part of a big corporation. 
  • Initiative isn’t rewarded or encouraged – In many established companies, employees tend to stick to their job duties and never deviate from their responsibilities. This is because initiative isn’t rewarded or encouraged in a corporate culture. 
You have to consider all of the above points to help you determine which type of work environment is ideal for you. Whether you think you’ll do better in a “think-outside-the-box” culture or a structured environment, neither is better than the other. Ultimately, it boils down to your personality, financial needs, and work style to determine which work environment suits your career.

This article by Reymart Jan Sarigumba (iPrice) was first posted elsewhere.