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Entry-Level Jobs: Startups vs. Large Corporations

Work environment can mean as much to some people as the size of their paycheck. Rare is the job that offers total satisfaction if there is little room for advancement, low pay, or less-than-desirable supervisors. Some workers thrive in a small startup company where they feel their contributions can make a more noticeable impact, and they can envision larger salary and responsibility based on merit. Other employees enjoy the stability of working for a large, stable corporation in entry level jobs and advancing through well-defined career paths.

There are pros and cons to working for small startup companies or large corporations. Here is a look at the benefits of both.

Jobs for recent college graduates: the startup

Many people who have recently completed a college degree prefer to seek work at a small startup company because of the challenges of bringing the company to profitability or advancing its business model. Some startups that are in the seedling stage and have obtained funding to advance ideas or products offer recent college graduates the chance to improve on those ideas and products and see them brought to market.

Other main benefits of working for a startup company include:

  1. Money. Some startups offer stock options that in time could mature and provide a significant windfall--for the lucky few, those stock options have made them young millionaires.
  2. Advancement. In many fledgling companies, management roles are still being defined, or new ones are created to reward valuable, hard-working employees.
  3. Creativity. Typically a young company has yet to define its corporate structure. Oftentimes, there is no set way of doing things, and new ideas can be discusses and brought to bear in the workplace.
  4. Entrepreneurship. For people looking to start their own business, startups provide fertile training ground.

On the downside, if the startup fails to get off the ground and folds, the entire staff finds itself seeking work. Whatever time was spent trying to nurture the company to fruition has been for naught.

Recent graduate jobs: the large corporation

In addition to steady paychecks, big companies offer a host of other benefits, including:

  1. Retirement programs. With employer-matching contributions, a retirement savings account can swell rapidly.
  2. Better health benefits. Large companies have more purchasing power when it comes to health care, which typically translates into lower premiums and better coverage for employees.
  3. Paid time off. Many big companies have more paid holidays than their smaller brethren. Large corporations can provide three or more weeks of paid vacation, whereas smaller companies may start employees off with just two weeks of paid time off per year.

Some of the negatives of working for a large corporation include less job security, since mass layoffs tend to touch every department in the company, and lack of individuality--your contributions might get lost in the crowd.

The bottom line is that there is no right or wrong place to work--each place of employment offers something different. Factors that cannot be outweighed are corporate politics, company culture, company loyalty, work-life balance and commute times. Some students leaving their respective colleges can find good opportunities at both types of workplace. A suggestion: do not be afraid to move around and test the waters, especially if you are a recent college graduate. See what type of work environment best suits you and matches your desires, and leave yourself open to moving around a bit in the workforce--moving around often means moving up.