When it comes to job searching, there’s a choice to be made between startup and corporate.

Startup companies are appealing to graduates because they’re typically associated with innovation, a fun work environment, and flexible working. Corporates, on the other hand, tend to offer a more robust benefits package, training & mentoring schemes, and more structured career progression.

When choosing between startup and corporate, there are a number of things to consider – and rather than being two lists of ‘pros’ and ‘cons’, the majority of the factors depend on what you value most in a company and a job.

To help you decide, here are the key features of startups and large corporates.


When it comes to startups, they’re certainly not a one-size-fits-all model, but there are a number of features you’ll find in most startup companies:

  • Flexibility

Startups tend to offer more flexible working; whether it’s a work from home / remote working policy, a co-working space like a WeWork or Runway East, or late starts.

  • Perks

Startups are well known for their fun ‘work perks’ – things like free breakfast (and often every other meal, too), discount cards, and work socials.

  • Relaxed dress code

Startups also tend to be fairly lax on their dress code, favouring comfort over corporate. This is especially true in a non-client-facing role like marketing, HR or IT.

  • Working environment

It’s not the case that every startup team ride around the office on skateboards; but in general, startup culture tends to be dynamic, sociable and stimulating. Don’t assume this means people don’t work as hard in startups; in fact, with fewer resources, employees have to roll up their sleeves and get stuck into many different tasks, even those which perhaps don’t naturally fall within their job description.

  • Carve out your own career path

The best thing about getting to try on many different hats early in your career, is that you can decide what you enjoy most, and then carve out your own career path accordingly. It’s also great if you’re looking for variation in a role; as your contribution to different projects and tasks will always be appreciated!

  • Noticeable success

When the company is small, your influence is more noticeable. This means that you can have a real impact on the business from early on in your graduate career – something that can be both challenging and highly rewarding.

People in meeting


Getting a graduate job at a large corporate will offer a very different experience. Here are some of the defining features of a large corporate company:

  • Thorough training

Large corporations will almost certainly have had someone doing your role before – so they will have a clear training plan and mentoring scheme in place. This will enable you to learn the skills you need to perform your specific role to its full potential.

  • Clear progression

Likewise, given that it’s a much larger company, corporates will enable you to move through the ranks and map out your professional development more clearly. This is especially true if you join a graduate scheme, which will give you a set time frame working across different teams and parts of a business.

  • Benefits package

Corporates tend to offer a very robust benefits package; including private healthcare, pension schemes and structured bonuses. Additionally, given their larger size, they will offer other perks such as gym memberships, break rooms and travel cards.

  • Reputation

Working for a well-known company will add value to your CV that will be useful throughout your career. Even if you want to join a startup or SME in the future, a big company name holds real weight on a CV, in the same way that attending a good university does.

  • Job stability

Perhaps one of the major draws of working for a large corporate is job stability. Larger firms will often have been around for decades, and have established themselves in their market; so provided that you work adequately, it’s unlikely that you will have to consider whether you’re safe in a job or might not get your bonus that year.

  • Resources

Large corporates are not limited by budget in the same way that startups often are; so a bigger company will be able to provide any resources its employees require – whether this is technology, furniture or accessories.

People in meeting

Choosing between startup and corporate all depends on what you care most about in a job and a company.

Before you start applying for graduate jobs, it’s important to think about your particular preferences and what you would be best suited to.

Do you want to work in an innovative, forward-thinking environment, with a relaxed dress code and the ability to move around and work on a range of different tasks?

Or would you rather work in a more structured, formal environment, where the company name is well-known, and your learning, development and career progression are mapped out more clearly?

Think about which factors are essential to you, then make your own ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list for both startups and corporates.

Made up your mind? Check out the Graduate Jobs on Give A Grad A Go.

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