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Large corporation vs. startup culture: which one is for you?

Home >  Blog >  Career advice >  Large corporation vs. startup culture: which one is for you?

The dilemma of choosing between a startup or a big company when job hunting is by no means new. In today’s evolving job marketplace, people tend to change jobs more often to gain more diverse professional experiences. 

Additionally, startup culture around the world is on the rise, with many governments supporting startups. You’ve undoubtedly heard of America’s Silicon Valley, but countries like Germany, Japan, the UK, France, and others are equally supportive of startups, meaning that startup sectors are flourishing globally. In response, large corporations are also evolving, stepping up their game to catch up with modern culture.

Whether you are starting out in your career, climbing the career ladder or looking to transition to a new sector, you’ll need to choose whether to pursue opportunities in the startup or corporate sector.

Large corporation vs. startup culture: which one is for you?

Startup culture

Startups are becoming a favourite among job seekers, which has a lot to do with their work culture. Let’s consider their primary features to make your choice between a startup or big company easier.

1.Dynamic environment

The dynamic environment in startups allows for a great deal of experimentation because of the “fail fast” culture. Here, employees find a safe space to fail, allowing them to learn something new with each failure.

2.Agile methodology

Startups often employ agile methodology, which breaks projects up into smaller parts. This means there is constant collaboration within the team, especially when responding to changes. Additionally, customer feedback is a significant part of this methodology, so you learn to understand and be responsive to your customer.

3.Autonomy

These environments give their employees a range of opportunities for creative freedom and independent decision-making. While working without waiting for approval can be a dream, it can also cause anxiety for some employees. However, this is a good learning opportunity to develop important traits such as the ability to solve problems independently.

4.Leave your comfort zone

Since startups generally have fewer employees, sometimes people may find themselves working outside of their comfort zone. While this is a great opportunity to pick up new skills, it can also be stressful.

5.Flexibility

Many startups have flexible work hours, which can be great for spontaneous types. Of course, this too comes with its drawbacks. Employees may need to work long hours when putting the finishing touches on a project or dealing with unexpected issues.

6.Growth

Being a part of a startup that makes it to big-time can be extremely gratifying. This intense growth period can be equal parts thrilling, exhausting, and educational.

7.Job security

On the downside, there’s always a chance that the startup may fail, meaning you’ll have less job security. On the other hand, if it does succeed, it could become the large corporation you didn’t want to work for in the first place. Luckily, moving on to new projects is now seen as a positive choice on your CV.

Large company culture

There’s a lot to like about working for a startup, but large companies also come with their benefits. Let’s consider their main features to see if these fit the bill for you:

1.Stability

If you’re working for a big corporation, stability and security are almost guaranteed. Not only that, but they typically offer a variety of benefits from complementary healthcare to extended parental leave and more.

Larger companies tend to be set in their ways, so they are not as quick to agree to original ideas or changes. Some people will appreciate this stability, while others will find this an outdated and monotonous approach.

2.Processes

Big corporations already have established teams and processes, meaning you’ll likely get a defined role without having to take on responsibilities outside your job description. This is reassuring for some people, as it provides a clear career path. That said, the lack of experimentation can be boring and frustrating for others.

3.Training

Big companies tend to have more resources at their disposal for training employees. Not only will you work under people who have years of experience, but you may have access to more training resources.

4.Decision making process

In larger organisations, employees at the lower levels get little to no say in decision-making. Therefore, if you would like to have more input and influence, this isn’t the ideal workplace for you.

Startup or big company: which will you choose?

Company cultures

You can look at a range of factors when choosing the company you want to work for, but ultimately, company culture counts more than company size. Startup culture has gained a lot of popularity in recent years, and many larger companies have followed suit by paying close attention to their own company culture.

Virtually any environment can be high-pressure, just as any environment can help you to build connection and friendships. Consider your professional goals and the kind of experience you want to have, such as if you want to focus on developing in one role or have the opportunity to branch out.

What you value most?

Think carefully about the type of experience you would like to gain, and what you value most in your professional life. This plays a significant role when choosing between a startup or a big company.

Once you’ve decided on the types of opportunities you want to pursue, online education with a recognised and respected business school can help you to gain the knowledge and qualifications you need to advance further in either the startup or corporate sectors.

EDHEC’s online learning programmes will give you the experience and preparation in both environments and from experts who know them well. Our programmes also include personalised coaching that can help you decide what’s best for you.