When I wanted to break into data science, I joined a startup. I’m obsessed with startups, even now. There’s something about the non-hierarchical culture, the own-it attitude, and the growing satisfaction in startups.
Honestly, the last thing I wanted to work is a 9–5 job at corporate. But later on, I ended up joining one. Fast forward, now I recommend aspiring data scientists to join my previous workplace, one of the biggest corporate companies in the country. Hear me out, please?
The truth is: I realized I was wrong. It’s not right to generalize all corporates. There’s good everywhere. Extracting the good from the bad is the super-skill. It’s this skill that will help you reach heights in your career.
In this article, I’ll open your mind about how a corporate job could give you the excellent career launch you always wanted.
Note: This article is drawn from my experience working in the data science and AI industry and targeting a similar audience.
The Structure, Process, and Systems Can Be a Blessing in Disguise
Since I’ve worked at both a startup and a corporate, I can tell you there is a massive difference in how they approach work, especially regarding the structure, process, and systems in place.
Startups are fast-moving; they have to get the product out or deliver the solutions and grow more quickly. It makes sense because, generally, they’re relying on investment funding, and there is an urgency to prove that they’re worth funding and not another failed startup.
Though corporates also want results sooner than later, they prioritize processes and structure the work so that it’s sustainable for the long run. It’s sometimes frustrating to go through the process to get every single job done, but that experience shapes our mindset to approach work in a structured manner.
When given a data science problem, you will learn how you’ll extract data, what privacy regulation you will comply with, create a solution blueprint, participate in problem-solving discussions, and finally, how you’d communicate the business value to the stakeholders.
You have to know these rules and get used to them in your early days to even break them later when it’s time for you to lead.
The Much Needed Stability While You’re Figuring Things Out
If one thing the years 2020 and 2021 taught us is that the future is uncertain. I’m all in for taking risks, but not before your career kickstarts.
During my first job in an AI startup, I was asked to lead projects and handle clients within a year of joining. While I thrive in pressure and additional responsibilities, it’s not for everyone.
We had a new CEO a year later, and he would just let go of people who didn’t perform well — and hire senior people to get the work done. That’s his leadership style, and sometimes it’s hard to sustain in a startup unless you’re good at wearing multiple hats.
During my second job in a corporate, I saw there’s always a senior mentoring you and taking up all the responsibilities for each project. Corporates can’t let juniors lead a project on their own even if they’re capable, it’s too risky, and the processes won’t allow that.
This gives you the much-needed mental space and time to figure things out. Take the course, make the mistakes, rely on mentorship, and grow in a structured manner.
What else do you want? This one last thing.
You Need This Early in Your Career (and Corporates have it!)
The credible reputation.
I’m a big believer that your skills should only matter for your career progression, but sadly the industry doesn’t work that way—harsh truth.
Employers find it hard to evaluate your skills during a few hours of interviews and rely on your track record. They form an unconscious bias regarding your skills based on your prior experiences and the companies you’ve worked for.
Whenever I mention I’ve worked at this leading company in my country, they get impressed. It’s the same reason why many on LinkedIn call themselves ex-Google, ex-Amazon, and so on.
Whether we like it or not, there is a credible reputation associated with certain big companies, which can unlock plenty of opportunities. No, I’m not asking you to go after the credibility, but understand the value of a credible reputation industry.
That brings us to the final question: what should I look for before joining a corporate company?
Summarizing: What to Look for in a Corporate?
- The learning opportunities.
- The kind of work.
- The work culture.
- The compensation.
Despite not believing in systems and processes, I’m much more organized and structured when I approach data science solutions, thanks to how I have worked in a corporate. Owing to my experience handling senior management internally at the corporate, I now know how to handle clients.
Sometimes I wish I’d got that experience right from the beginning — precisely why I recommend beginners in my country to join this specific corporate company.
Lastly, Remember This
The options are endless: joining a corporate or a startup, or even starting something on your own or freelancing. There’s no one good solution for everyone.
You realize it’s not really about Startup vs. Corporate if you’ve read until this point. It’s about keeping an open mind and not ruling out an opportunity before evaluating it.
Before rejecting or accepting, ask yourself: Is this particular opportunity the right fit for me? If yes, that’s all that matters.
Did I miss anything about corporates that you want to add? Let me know in the responses section, and let’s keep the conversation going.
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