Being an entrepreneur. Dreaming up the next hot startup. Creating your own empire. These are the sorts of business aspiration that make headlines and fill the hearts of fresh-faced college seniors and experienced professionals alike with excitement. Slowly climbing your way up the corporation ladder just isn’t sexy anymore.
Working for a big, established company — while practical — doesn’t have the same appeal that it did in the past. There are some very good reasons for this. The corporate world is less stable than it once was. Layoffs and downsizing are everyday occurrences in countless industries. Accurately, young people are recognizing that the traditional script — get a degree, get a good job, work your way up and wait it out until retirement — isn’t the “safe bet” that it was for previous generations.
Frequently switching positions, employers and even entire industries throughout one’s career is increasingly the norm. This volatility erodes one of the most appealing things about being a salary man or woman: stability. Without it, the make-it-or-break-it world of entrepreneurship doesn’t seem quite as risky or frightening.
Despite all this, though, there are a lot of positive things that can only happen in a large company environment. While all the negative aspects of being a “cubicle drone” are well known — in part thanks to popular media like Dilbert and the movie Officespace — there’s a lot that is valuable and enriching about the corporate office environment, too. For many people, a “regular job” may be a better choice, at least in the short-term, than trying to make the next Instagram or Twitter.
Mentorship and Experience
While formal education has it’s place, anyone with experience can tell you its no substitute for hands-on knowledge. Working for a successful company will allow you to interact with experts in your field, both professionally and socially, on a daily basis. This is something that would never happen in most startup environments. You’ll get to learn the short-cuts, insider tricks and “secret language” of your industry — be it coding, packaging design, marketing or whatever else — from the people who are already down in the trenches everyday.
A Diverse Social Life
For better or worse, the majority of our waking hours are spent at work. Outside of our families, the most of our social interactions happen with our coworkers. A typical large company gives you a varied and diverse pool of people to associate with. Will you like all of them? Almost certainly not. However, there is something to be said for the richness and variety that comes from men and women of different ages, backgrounds, life situations and experience levels all working together towards a common goal. This is something you definitely won’t get if you go the startup route.
While this isn’t true of every big company, of course, more and more of them are offering various extras to their employees that make life easier and more convenient. Frequently offered perks include child care, gym memberships, on-site restaurants, company cars, paid training opportunities and sometimes even pet care services. In comparison, the bare-bones, ramen-every-night lifestyle of many early-stage startups feels a bit spartan. A corporate job can provide a level of work-life balance that is hard to beat.