If you are an undergraduate student or a fresh graduate feeling undecided on where you plan to work – fret not as you are not alone. On one hand, there are well-established corporations with household brands, lucrative financial compensations, and able to offer you a stable career. On the other, you might also be excited to join a young venture and walk the life of an entrepreneur. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer, so it can get a little overwhelming to decide on which career path is best for you.
An interesting panel discussion with a similar title was held in Yangon, Myanmar last month. It was organised by Wynee and YUMEC, a community aiming to maximise the career potential and employability of Myanmar youths, as a part of their event named Career Gallery. The Panel featured 4 successful business women:
- Rose, Co-founder at Mango Marketing Services
- Mei Mei, Managing Director of Filipino-Myanmar conglomerate United Beauty Palace Myanmar
- Kyawt, Deputy CEO of United Amara Bank
- Isabella, Co-founder at Rangoon Tea House.
The panellists shared their experience of working in various work environments, which include start-ups, SMEs national corporations and multinational conglomerates. Based on their insights, here are the four factors to consider before deciding if working for a start-up or opting for a stable corporate job is more suitable for you.
1. Job Responsibilities
Corporate Organisations: Corporates offer well-defined job descriptions, and you are expected to be excellent – and beyond – within that scope. Each department has a set of objectives, and all employees are assigned a particular task to meet a specific business goal. This is to ensure smooth functioning within and between departments, and to efficiently utilize the human resources with minimal overlapping duties. As an employee, you have the opportunity to develop deep expertise in a specific area of business.
Start-ups: Although you will most likely be recruited for a particular job scope, there’s a high chance that you will be expected to go beyond and contribute to other aspects of the business too. As early stage start-ups don’t have many employees to start with, you will often find yourself interacting with several departments, and at times with the CEO too, to be involved in a vast array of duties. This is especially beneficial to the fresh graduates in the industry, as this allows them to ‘tap into’ several areas of the business before laying the anchor.
2. Learning Curve
Corporate Organisations: Working at a corporate will put you through a well-structured learning program. Every task you perform, and hence the skillsets you learn, comes from your department manager who likely went through the same processes as yours and who are now obliged to complete the missions by the senior management. In a sense, there are respective skills that you can possess at different hierarchical levels, and if you are comfortable with such systematic, step-by-step learning curve, then a corporate career might suit you well.
Start-ups: It’s commonly known that working in early-stage start-ups will offer you exponential learning curves. Their organisations are also relatively flat in structure, and are usually not micro-managed by the supervisors in place. Employees will also have a chance to be proactive and resourceful to find their own ways to deal with their tasks, and at times even have to think out-of-the-box to devise innovative solutions to solve daily challenges. Ultimately, if you have an open-mind and are willing to learn, the start-up learning curve is relatively steep, and you will be surprised by your own expanded boundaries.
3. Working Culture
Corporate Organisations: Big companies have ample of resources for your projects, and there are plenty of other employees working towards a common goal. The company’s collective impact on society and business is huge, and you are motivated with your contributions as a part of the group. In addition, the offices are usually very professional, though a bit rigid in bureaucratic protocols, and will be equipped with the relevant digital infrastructures.
Start-ups: You can expect a much leaner team, which might also mean that it’s a lot easier to be recognised for your individual achievements in daily operations. This is a strikingly fulfilling factor for young workers as it offers them a deep sense of ownership and significance in their contributions. Start-up offices are usually fluid in attire, time, location, and can facilitate an inclusive, highly adaptive environment.
4. Career Projections
Corporate Organisations: Starting from entry level, corporate jobs are usually accompanied with a higher salary band and other attractive perks including health insurance, bonuses, and maternity leaves. In the long term, having a nationally or globally recognized brand in your CV, regardless of your corporate designation, opens a lot of doors. It catalyses in conversations your expertise in a certain business area and helps you climb higher in a similar corporate structure.
Start-ups: Investing your career in a start-up will prepare you with all-rounded professional development tools. Even if the start-up fails – and they mostly do – your skillsets remain relevant and open another set of doors, including the corporate world. It is not necessarily because of your start-up brand, if at all, but because of your proven excellence and confidence in your work. However, in a positive scenario where the start-up finds its way to grow into a unicorn, you can expect to be able to secure a better pay cheque and portfolio than your corporate peers.
Making a Career Decision
Start-up and corporate jobs are no longer black and white in nature, instead they complement each other. Big corporates are increasingly adapting certain work cultures of the start-ups, while start-ups find themselves automatically fitting in the process-driven culture of the corporates as they scale their business operations. The grass may look greener on the other side, however, it is all up to the eyes of the beholder – you to decide what suits your working style, personality and preference.
Ultimately, just make sure you have done your homework (through research and speaking with career counsellors), choose confidently, and know that it is never too late to change.
Disclaimer: This is an Opinion Article and it only reflects the views of the author and not the company or institution that may be associated with the Author. This article also does not have any intention to undermine or attack certain individuals or parties.
Written by: Phyo Thura Htay
Phyo is a Content Curator at Aseanite and a Central Executive at Yangon Technological University Students’ Union. He studied political economy at the University of Hong Kong and is interested in ASEAN affairs. He has interned for Schlumberger and Siam Cement Group as a chemical engineering student, and is a 2017 fellow of Young Sustainable Impact, a startup incubator based in Oslo.
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