Your studies are coming to an end and the next stage is already waiting: working life! But where on earth should you start working? After all, there is a huge range of small and large companies that will overwhelm you.

The agony of choice starts with the question of whether a small or large company is right for you?

Are you in good hands in a start-up or a corporation? Or somewhere in between?

You feel lost, and everyone you know tells you something different.

Friends who work in start-ups tell you horror stories of overtime, weekend shifts and creepy bosses who say something about “we’re all family”, while your friends can barely make ends meet on their meagre salaries.

Corporate employees don’t seem to fare any better: Although they have a good salary, they complain about long decision-making processes, rigid structures and mind-numbing, monotonous days.

So you ask yourself: what should I do?

Don’t despair under any circumstances.

We’ll help you with our two golden tips and explain the pros and cons of working in a start-up and in a large company!

Tip #1: You can always change your mind – but do it with style

Perhaps it will help you to remember that you are not making a decision for eternity. This sounds banal, but we often forget this when we have to decide for or against something.

Decisions are rarely final, not even whether you work in a start-up or a corporation, in other words: you can change your mind if you realize that you don’t feel comfortable in your job.

Of course, you should adhere to your employment contract and observe the relevant notice periods.

It’s also not cool to leave an employment relationship at the drop of a hat and leave your employer with a bunch of open projects. Word gets around quickly, which is why you should carry out a change of employer cleanly, i.e. fairly and transparently.

This includes informing your employer in good time about your move to another company. They will thank you for it because it will give them enough time to find a successor for you.

You should also always arrange a handover to a colleague or your successor so that no information is lost and the company can continue to operate seamlessly after your departure. This kind of behavior is legitimate and is good practice in both small and large companies.

If you take this to heart, you can switch from a start-up to a corporation and vice versa – no one will hold it against you if you are fair and honest. And this attitude is incredibly relaxing, isn’t it?

By the way: these days, it’s completely normal to move back and forth between smaller and larger companies over the course of your working life. So relax when you realize that you want to change – you’re far from alone!

Tip #2: Just try it out

By the time you start your career, you will have gained experience in the world of work, for example through part-time jobs and internships. But you won’t know what it’s really like until you’ve been working in a company for several days, weeks, months or even years.

So there is no way around trying things out. Look on the bright side: you are embarking on an exciting journey where you will gain a lot of experience and find out what you like and what you don’t like.

With this perspective, not an hour of work is wasted, not even in a company where you didn’t feel comfortable, because this stage in your life helps you to find out where you really belong.

So trying out jobs is always a good idea, even if you realize after a while that you want to change jobs.

But maybe things will turn out differently and you’ll feel right at home with your employer straight away. This can always happen, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a start-up or a larger company. The company has to suit you, that’s the key. In our article on this topic, you can find out how to find your ideal employer.

Start-ups: advantages and disadvantages

There are over 70,000 start-ups in Germany that create jobs. But what is it like to work in one of these hip small companies?

We show you the pros and cons.

Advantages of start-ups

Let’s start with the good things about being an employee in a start-up.

High responsibility

In a start-up, a few shoulders usually carry a lot of responsibility. This simply has to do with the fact that a start-up does not have the staffing levels of a large company.

So realize that you will have responsibility for important company processes after a short induction or even during it. If you enjoy it and you are someone others can rely on, it will feel exciting and fulfilling for you.

Broad range of tasks

The high level of responsibility also comes with a wide range of tasks: writing emails, organizing meetings, communicating with customers, processing returns … depending on the area in the company, you will be responsible for a variety of tasks, and sometimes you may even jump into areas outside your field if a colleague is ill or on vacation. This will allow you to think outside the box and massively expand your skills.

Flat hierarchies

In a start-up, a direct line to the boss is the rule, not the exception. There are rarely intermediary superiors, and if there are, you will have to work together as equals to manage the workload. A start-up can only survive on the market if it is as efficient as possible; steep hierarchies are simply a hindrance.

Insights into entrepreneurship

By immersing yourself in a wide variety of areas, you get to know the start-up from the inside out. You often get an insight into the figures and sales targets. You will also get to know the founders’ working methods and how they deal with entrepreneurial challenges. All of this will significantly boost your self-employment.

Disadvantages of start-ups

Start-ups like to present themselves as cool and laid-back, on first-name terms with the boss and all that.

But there are also downsides …

High risk / uncertainty

Working in a start-up always means uncertainty. A business model that works today may be gone tomorrow.

Or a competitor overtakes you and dominates the market.

Or the investors might jump ship.

Or, or, or, or …

The uncertainties are high in a start-up, which is why your job is insecure. Added to this is the lack of statutory protection against dismissal for companies with fewer than ten employees.

High workload

Many tasks also mean that work in a start-up never stops. Even though there are many companies that try to avoid overtime for their employees, this will happen from time to time.

It simply doesn’t fit in with the hands-on mentality of start-ups to drop the pen at 5 p.m. on the dot and sign out on the time clock.

Instead, it is appreciated and expected that you as an employee give 110% every day and go the extra mile. However, this can be quite stressful in the long run and can upset your work-life balance, at least for a while.

But: hard work also helps you progress really quickly and broadens your horizons. You are young and can still really step on the gas, which will set the course for your career. So it’s not bad per se to pinch your cheeks together and work a lot – it just shouldn’t become a permanent state for months or years on end, as that wouldn’t be good for your health and motivation.

Limited budget

Large companies often have budgets in the five or even six-figure range – sometimes even more.

Start-ups can only dream of this; they have to cut corners at every turn in order to keep the money they have painstakingly acquired together through equity, crowdfunding, investors, etc. In practice, this means that you are initially unable to implement many things that would require considerable funds, which can be frustrating.

Not very representative

No one outside the start-up scene will know most start-ups. You won’t be able to score big points with them either on your CV or at a party interview. So if you’re looking for a job to flex your muscles, a start-up might not be the right choice.

Large companies: Advantages and disadvantages

A big salary, a company car, a stellar career – that’s what many companies promise.

But what does it really look like behind the scenes?

We show you the pros and cons of working in a corporation.

Advantages of large companies

The big players on the labor market are attractive to many employees. We’ll tell you why.

Economic stability

Large companies such as corporations are usually firmly established in the world of work. They have grown over many decades and successfully cultivate their field of business. Accordingly, they can offer their employees stability and security. Thanks to their own HR department, salaries are paid on time and everything is taken care of, from vacations to sabbaticals.

Clear career paths

Careers in large companies are clearly mapped out, from entry level to department head, the steps of the career ladder are clearly visible. However, it can take many years to reach them, during which you have to be diligent and committed.

Regulated working hours

In large companies, the classic 9-to-5 jobs are commonplace. You start on time in the morning and go home on time. Sure, every now and then there’s a project where you have to work hard, but otherwise you can rely on regular working hours and a predictable work-life balance.

Generous budget

Marketing can be really fun in a large company. Why? Because you can produce image films, run advertisements on social media and have high-quality posters printed for trade fairs. Everything costs money, of course, but this is often more readily available in larger companies than in start-ups, so you can really make a difference. That makes you happy.

High reputation

Large companies are rooted in their region and far beyond. Many of them have international locations and enjoy a good reputation. This will give you something exciting to talk about at parties and a great place on your CV if you ever want to apply elsewhere.

Disadvantages of large companies

Large companies are often said to be as sluggish as a tanker. Find out whether this is true and what other disadvantages there are in corporations.

Long decision-making processes (bureaucracy)

Before measure X, Y is implemented, the supervisor, the head of department, the intern and the boss himself have to look over your plan, which you have worked out in detail and in painstaking detail. Otherwise your idea wouldn’t have made it to the top in the first place.

The only problem is that half of the decision-makers are on vacation, sick or on a business trip. So your action plan is left to languish for weeks or even months.

These and similar experiences are extremely annoying, but are often part and parcel of large companies in Germany. The bureaucracy sometimes also comes about because entire departments inefficiently circle around problems instead of solving them quickly.

Anonymity

At most, you will meet many colleagues in the hallway with a nod of the head and a quick hello every now and then. However, you won’t have much or anything to do with most of them.

Your contacts are usually limited to the team you work in. And even there, your colleagues will be busy with their own, separate projects.

So a corporation works a bit like a big city: lots of people come together, but everyone does their own thing, which is why anonymity is high.

Few design options

In a large company, you have a clearly defined area of responsibility – then nothing happens for a long time. You want to get a taste of another area of responsibility? That has to be approved first.

Are you interested in another project? Even then you have to explain to the boss why, why, why. And even if you can convince him, it’s still not a given that you’ll expand your creative scope. Remember disadvantage #1, all the red tape?

OK, I now have an overview – and now what?

Jump straight to tip #2 in our article: Try it out! Think a start-up is cool? Then apply for a trial job there!

Would you rather get a taste of a corporate group? Do a trainee program that is limited in time and then decide whether you want to stay there or not.

What we’re trying to say is that structures today are nowhere near as rigid as they used to be. Have the courage to enter into different working relationships and also have the courage to say no to a company if it doesn’t suit you (anymore).

There are various paths open to you, which can also be cleverly combined: an internship in a start-up or in a larger company, where you can gain new experience in your first few years and switch when you feel like it.

Perhaps you will have gained enough experience by then that you want to start your own business? Here you can find out how to get started with self-employment during your studies.

It’s always about finding your own path. And that works best through experience: learning, adjusting, learning, adjusting. Some people find their dream job straight away, for others it takes longer. So what? The important thing is that you keep moving, then nothing stands in the way of a successful career.

More articles in our blog

Want even more articles to help you get ahead? Then check out these guides on our blog:

Do your thing and don’t let anyone talk you into it. Listen to the experiences of others, but ultimately only you will be able to find what suits you. And you will if you work hard and keep your eyes open.

We wish you all the best!

Ahoy and good luck rolling up your sleeves,

Your Staytoo team

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