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the brand girls: Help! Should I join a startup?

One of the hardest questions to answer before starting your career is what type of company you want to go to.

There’s corporate America, joining a startup, non-profits, government, and so many more options.

Let’s focus on two that are almost exact opposites: corporate vs. startups. There are positives and negatives to each and we’re here to help you navigate both sides.

Large corporations like Marriott and Starbucks are known for having strong benefits packages, competitive salaries and being fairly stable.

But, corporate jobs are also infamous for having high stress levels coupled with a lack of work-life balance.

Some employees enjoy working in the industry because there’s more structure and consistency.

“I needed someone to go to or some standard to hold my boss to, so I would learn the traits of a good leader,” says Grace Brinkley, Social Media Coordinator at Hilton Worldwide.

In the corporate world, connections can also be a major asset. It’s notorious for the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”

Grace used her connections to give her a leg up in the industry. High Point University alumna, Megan, came to speak at one of Grace’s undergraduate classes and eventually became Grace’s manager at Hilton Worldwide.

Corporate life isn’t always easy, one of the downfalls can be the lack of engagement. According to a Gallup poll in 2015, only 32% of employees in the U.S. reported being engaged at work.

Grace experienced this at her first role, where she loved what she was doing, but didn’t click with her boss. “I was in a place where I didn’t feel valued as an employee,” she says.

Coworkers would describe Grace as a self-motivated, quick learner, who is passionate about her work – making a large Fortune 500 company a good fit for her.

But, it’s not right for everyone. “I got really lucky and things fell into place. All of my past experience, beliefs and values worked out,” she says.

Her biggest tip to current students? “Find out what your learning style is, find out what you want in a manager. Do I want a 9-5? Can I handle a 9-5? Do I want to do freelance?”

Despite graduating from the same college, just 1 year after Grace, Reza Moghtaderi Esfahani chose a much different route for his career.

I was always interested in making things that benefit a large number of people and I found that with my major [Computer Science] and the ability to turn my ideas into tangible products I will reach that dream,” says Reza, iOS Developer, UI/UX Designer at Cirtual LLC.

Start-ups are notorious for their Millennial-vibe, complete with bean bag chairs in the conference rooms and a fridge stocked full of Red Bull.

But that wasn’t what drew Reza in. Towards the end of college, Reza was more and more intentional about starting his own company.

“Even as a junior, Google invited me to interview with them but I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my adult life in a big corporation,” he says. “Cirtual was a result of deliberate work on my end to convince some of the best students in my department to join me in making a company that values what we value.”

Start-ups tend to have less of a structured hierarchy, but that sometimes means you have to make your own hours. It can be a great fit for someone who prefers more flexibility, but Reza admits that it isn’t always perfect.

“I won’t settle until something I care about accomplishing has been accomplished,” he shares. “This typically means I will be the first person in the office and the last person out if I’m working on a part of the project that I’m passionate about, or is important to the overall progress of the group.”

Business Insider names the uncertainty of a start-up’s outcome as one of the hardest things about working at a startup. In Reza’s world, having to worry about everything is a part of his reality. But, at least for him, that’s an even bigger motivator for success.

“’Im extremely proud to be working with smart and caring people and I’m very happy that my future is a direct result of my own efforts and not that of someone else’s decisions.”
His biggest tip for current students? 

“Marc Randolph, the co-founder of Netflix, told me:
​ “Do you like noodles? then get started!” Don’t get me wrong, it’s not about noodles. It’s about being happy with basics and minimums and relentlessly pursuing your dream until your successful. It’s all about delayed gratification.

If you’d rather have a benefits package and health insurance right out of college, then the start-up world is definitely not for you. But if you don’t mind taking some risks, working on the weekends, and are up for the unknown challenges that will come your way, then focus on the big reward that excites you at the end and start now!”

No matter which path you take, remember that everyone’s journey is unique and no two jobs are alike. Whatever company you end up working for, make sure you’re staying
1) passionate 2) happy 3) balanced.

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