What is it like working on product for a startup versus a larger corporation? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Lydia Varmazis, VP Product and Design, Checkr, on Quora:

The biggest difference between a job at a startup versus a larger corporation is the rate at which things change. Generally speaking, the smaller the startup, the more frequently you'll be given the opportunity to pick up new responsibilities--because there are simply fewer people to tackle any given challenge. Also, some of us love to have more than one thing to do every day.

At a big company, your day-to-day work will likely be more predictable as you will likely have a very specific role and responsibility. With that structure, there's generally an established way of doing things. Sometimes that's detailed out in manual and operating guides, other times it's simply understood. Another advantage is if you don't like your role, you can switch jobs without leaving the company. This will allow you to gain new skills and grow your career.

I often get asked if a startup is right for a person. Unless I know them really well, the answer I always give is--it depends. Startups can offer a chance to do all the things, which can be either a blessing or a curse depending on your interests and what drives you. With a startup, there is more autonomy. This can cut both ways. It is certainly empowering. But you may miss having peers to collaborate with, be forced to look outside your company for mentors and role models, or have a limited budget to get work done.

Here's a quick checklist if you are thinking about joining a start-up:

  • OK with frequent change
  • Enjoy solving (lots) of problems
  • Like to experiment more
  • Comfortable with failure
  • You don't need/like permission
  • Identify as self-motivated
  • Fine with working 50+ hrs/week

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Published on: Sep 27, 2019