Big Tech or Promising Startup?

New roseam
Mar 26, 2018 12 Comments

As a Product Designer in the beginning of my career what would set me up for the best career success?

Option 1: Large Tech company (think Google/FB) at their HQ - Entry Level

Option 2: mid-sized, well funded startup in a somewhat more live-able city, much smaller tech scene - Senior Designer with opportunity to lead a new design team ...

Beyond compensation and benefit packages, how would you evaluate the two opportunities?


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TOP 12 Comments
  • Google usurper
    Also, keep in mind who's answering here. Everyone from the big companies are telling you to work at the big companies, "no question." Make sure to correct for survivorship bias.
    Mar 28, 2018 5
    • Amazon / Design MiddleWest
      This is a fair point, but I came from the small company and startup world and had long wanted to be at one of the major firms. Having experienced both now, I definitely urge going to a big company—but you have to challenge the hell out of yourself for it to be worthwhile. Going and coasting isn’t worth much.
      Mar 28, 2018
    • New Ux1arm5
      @middleWest what are some of the reasons you love a larger company? (Beyond benefits and comp)
      Mar 29, 2018
    • Amazon / Design MiddleWest
      Opportunity. At Amazon, there’s no end to the things you can work on. And the challenges of working at that scale are fascinating, along with navigating the various dependencies etc. It can be enormously frustrating, but I enjoy the struggle.
      Mar 29, 2018
    • New Ux1arm5
      Makes sense. Do you see yourself staying at a large company for the long haul or eventually going back to a smaller one?
      Mar 29, 2018
    • Amazon / Design MiddleWest
      That’s hard to say. If it was the right startup, then I’d join it...but of course, if it’s the “right startup” it’ll eventually become a big company anyway :-)

      I think I’d prefer a bigger company that championed design more. It’s not that I don’t have autonomy now, I mostly do, it’s that design’s perspective on things is usually sidelined at some point. And unless you’re principal, it can be difficult to get enough directors and VPs to pay attention. It’s understandable, and it’s ultimately my responsibility to figure that out, but with design typically seen as something that enhances rather than something that drives strategy, it’s tough.

      Meanwhile at a smaller company, you can have greater influence but at the cost of limited scope.
      Mar 29, 2018
  • Yahoo abc9876
    FANG without a doubt
    Mar 26, 2018 0
  • Google usurper
    I prefer startups, because you have more influence and things don't move at a glacial pace like they do in the big bureaucratic companies. But if you're just starting out, it's probably good to get some experience at a big one sooner or later.

    You'll be working the rest of your life. You'll have plenty of time to try both.

    One crucial thing about startups: make sure you have a good amount of savings to last at least 6 months. 9/10 startups fail eventually. But they can also be very rewarding and teach you about all aspects of running a business very quickly.
    Mar 26, 2018 0
  • Oath Trim
    Fang. Dont even think. Most startups wont add any value to your resume. Fang will. You can fang now and startup later, cant do the other way round. In general, startups usually turtle.
    Mar 26, 2018 1
    • New QdQJ21
      Come on, a lot of companies out of FANG will make a good resume
      Mar 26, 2018
  • ServiceNow iPogba00
    How do you know that your Sr designer skill set and experience at startup = Jr designer at FANG?
    Jan 4 0
  • Amazon / Design MiddleWest
    FANG. No question. There’s plenty of work to do and you get a better sense of how things work. Yes you can learn a lot at some startups, but not all. You can learn plenty about failure and fucking up anywhere you go.
    Mar 28, 2018 0