Personal Positioning: Start-up vs. Corporate World—My Decision

For anyone, job hunting can be stressful, overwhelming and difficult.  For those actively searching for jobs now, opportunities are scarce and the first job that appears remotely related to an individual’s interests is normally as good of a choice as one can hope for.  But if you’re one of the lucky few given the luxury of choosing between several options, how do you gauge which job offer is right for you?  Here’s some criteria that I examined this past week, when I was pitting two job offers against each other:

Stability vs. Growth

At, we have experienced amazing growth during the last two and a half months.  Subscriptions have increased two fold and traffic to our blog has increased over 60% since January.  My experience working for Brand-Yourself has been nothing short of amazing.  When presented with the opportunity to work here, I was both excited and flattered that the team wanted to keep me on-board.

Last week, I was also offered a position to work at Ogilvy & Mather’s digital arm, [email protected] as an assistant search planner.  Ogilvy & Mather is one of the top agencies in the world and an agency that I identified freshman year as one that would be my “dream company.”  Both offers were titillating.  The two offers represented a decision between stability at a large, established agency versus the excitement of working for a robust start-up that sees changes daily, even hourly.

Wearing multiple hats vs. specialization

As the online marketing strategist for Brand-Yourself, my roles and responsibilities differ every day.  From social media marketing, to SEO, to consulting, to critiquing the usability of our site, each day presents a new challenge.

For [email protected], my mindset and job description would be much more narrowly tailored.  I would be responsible for planning, implementing and maintaining search marketing campaigns for my account.  For me, this was a classic case of wearing multiple hats versus specializing in one area and mastering this craft.

Corporate vs. start-up culture

This may have been the toughest area for me to accurately gauge.  On one hand, I would be working with four of the brightest people I have ever encountered, working on a proprietary technology with Brand-Yourself.

For Ogilvy, I would have the opportunity to join a team that is growing nearly 40% in the next six months and work on an account, WebEx, which is revolutionizing the way companies pitch ideas and interact with each other and clients.

Big City (NYC) vs. Small City (Syracuse)

Most people have a fairly well-developed idea of whether they are big city or small city types of people.  I would consider myself to be a part of the latter group.  I have never been one to enjoy the hustle and bustle of big cities and have always enjoyed outdoor activities, which take me far away from urban centers.  With this being said, I recognize the opportunities that reside in New York City and the large network of young professionals and contacts that would be at my fingertips if I accepted the position at O&M.  At the end of the day, I had to weigh the benefits of the small town, tight-knit feel to the incessant grind of New York City.

My Decision

Tough decision?  You bet.  After two restless nights and hours of phone calls, t-charts and self-inflection, I decided to accept [email protected]’s offer.  Neo offers me the opportunity to work with advertising tactics and software that will place me on the cutting edge of the business.  Additionally, I will be working in a department that is growing and on an account that is reshaping how individuals communicate with one another across all different industries.

Have you had a similar experience in your job search?  What were the criteria you considered when making your decision?  Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Jim Armstrong is a senior advertising management major in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.  He works in the Tina Press and David Rubin Career Development Center where he reviews resumes and cover letters.
Find out more about Jim by viewing his LinkedIn profile and following him on Twitter.


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  1. 1

    Very interesting post Jim, its really cool that you shared the different dynamics you personally encountered with when making the decision.

    I had a similar decision after I graduated last year from Whitman. After a long job search process that lasted thru July, I had the options of a corporate world job or a job with a technology startup company. The corporate job was a marketing analyst position at a PBM (pharmacy-benefit manager) company that paid an above average starting salary. I had previously worked at this PBM company for the past two summers and I knew what to expect. The work would be constructive and important but would lack both creativity and innovation. The startup company, on the other hand, offered me a position to develop and execute all of the marketing strategies of the company, but the catch to the job was that I would not be paid for at least 6 months. It would allow me to be creative in marketing an exciting technology (Qr Codes) but would stunt my income completely.

    After consideration, i decided to accept the position at the startup company because I wanted to differentiate myself and my resume as much as possible. I realize there are a lot of factors that are involved (i.e. I had the stability of being able to live at home without expenses), but I think differentiation is the key in any decision like this. My resume was not particularly strong, and I needed an experience that would catch the eyes of future employers. In my opinion, the marketing analyst position was not particularly unique or impressive and would in no way be “exciting” to employers. I chose to work for a startup company because I thought it was the better option for future employment options, not because I think the startup world is better then the corporate world.

    Jim your case is very unique because you have two incredible options. Ogilvy is an incredible agency to work for and is an extremely promising young company. Both options will lead you to exciting future success.

    Congrats Jim!

  2. 2
    Mars Dorian

    to be honest – I'm self-employed and never worried about that. I think your intuition is the alpha and the omega here – listening to your own inner voice will tell you exactly what to do. You just got to get rid of all the noise out there.

  3. 3
    Swing Trading

    Interesting post. I have stumbled and twittered this for my friends. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

  4. 4
    Swing Trading

    Interesting post. I have stumbled and twittered this for my friends. Hope others find it as interesting as I did.

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