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Startup Vs. Corporate Tech Jobs: What Is Better For Your Career?

With technology changing the way we do business, most companies have been competing with each other for top tech talent. As a job seeker, this trend gives you the flexibility to be very selective about the opportunities you consider. This leads us to the question everyone is asking: startup tech jobs or corporate tech jobs?

As an IT professional, you are probably familiar with the basics. Startups are typically known for their flexibility and cool “perks” while corporations offer more predictability and strong brand recognition. As with any type of company, both have their pros and cons. When choosing between the two, it can be difficult to know which one is right for you. What you can do, however, is educate yourself on their key differences to evaluate which type of company aligns best with your personality, preferences, and career goals. In some cases, you may even decide that you want to try both out!

To get started, here is what you can expect from corporate tech jobs and startup tech jobs:

Corporate tech jobs

Predictability: At corporate tech jobs, where roles, hours, and other internal processes are more clearly defined, there tends to be a greater sense of order at work. On most days, for example, you may know what is specifically expected of you—giving you a more predictable schedule and set of day-to-day tasks.

Impact + growth opportunities: Corporate tech jobs tend to be focused in one specific area, making this a great environment for those who know what direction they want their career to go in. As an “expert” in your specialty, this allows you to hone the skills needed for growth without needing to split your time between unrelated responsibilities. Regarding promotions, corporations also tend to have formal policies in place—giving you opportunities throughout the year to meet the criteria. However, there is sometimes more red tape to get through.

Benefits: In addition to health insurance, corporations can offer some pretty significant benefits like gym reimbursement, retirement plans, childcare, and corporate discounts. In fact, many large companies are currently in the process of evaluating their current benefits plan to improve the employment experience for top IT talent in this competitive market.

Startup tech jobs

Predictability: At startups, everyone is expected to pitch in. Since the work can be fast-paced and ever-changing, startup employees need to be flexible, accountable, and self-sufficient. For instance, one day you can be focused on software development, and the next, you could be on the phone making sales calls. This type of environment gives you insight into a variety of positions, which can help you diversify your skills and learn what you want to do in the long-run.

Impact + growth opportunities: By working at a small business—especially in the early stages—every employee has a powerful impact. With a lot on the line, your accomplishments (and mistakes) will be highly visible throughout the organization. You could also influence key decisions. Founders and other leaders of startups understand that innovation and risk often spur growth, so they will often turn to their employees for inspiration. However, growth at a startup can look a lot different. While you’ll have many opportunities to expand your skills and diversify your experience, the horizontal hierarchy may make it more difficult to move into leadership positions.

Benefits: Startups tend to cultivate fairly relaxed cultures where employees may enjoy “perks” like free food, flex time, and generous vacation policies. In such a close-knit environment, many of these companies also try to place an emphasis on team building activities outside of the office. This may include happy hours, volunteer events, and fitness or sporting activities.