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  • Writer's pictureNika Sison

Startups and Corporates: Where Do You Fit In?

Finding the perfect job really comes down to the company you join. Here’s a starter for navigating Silicon Valley and finding your next stepping stone.

Photo courtesy of Tyler Casey via Unsplash.

With San Jose State University being in the center of Silicon Valley, the opportunities to get valuable work experience and level up are endless. Those LinkedIn alerts and Handshake notifications keep going off on your phone. There’s so much room to grow, but the real question is this: where should you start?

Different people have different preferences when it comes to the company … even all the way down to the office perks. Before you go slap happy and say “yes” to each job opportunity that comes your way, take a closer look at the companies you join. The perfect job shouldn’t solely be determined by the salary. Here’s a beginner’s guide to get you started on navigating the Bay Area before sealing the deal.


Photo courtesy of Marten Bjork via Unsplash.

Predictability of responsibilities can be a make or break for a job position. Even if the description of the job on LinkedIn (or any other job posting website) provides a bulleted list of tasks, that list may not be definite.

If working in a start-up, expect to become a jack of all trades. You’ll be working in a company that is still working on expanding clientele, and has a small team. One day you could be working on creating social media content on Adobe Illustrator. The next day, you could be told to call a warehouse to rent furniture for summer convention. Having these unexpected tasks can be exciting if you are an adaptable team player. Just expect the possibility of working overtime.

Working in a corporation can have more definite tasks, especially if the company is mature. You will have a clear idea of the expectations set for the role and be able to hone on your existing skills. For those who prefer a sense of normalcy on the job and a work-life balance, this company environment may be a better fit.


Photo courtesy of Austin Distel via Unsplash.

When starting your job, getting to know your coworkers should be a priority. Networking within the company should be for creating work relationships and for better understanding your employer’s operations. Stronger work relationships also makes it easier to ask for help to understand your duties.

As mentioned earlier, start-ups are usually made up of a small team. You’ll usually be working in an office suite, so you can see everyone working hard at their desks. There were multiple days where I got to eat lunch with my boss and my coworkers. I got to learn more about their passions and their college experiences (which was helpful since they were SJSU alumni). These day-to-day chitchats made working more fun, especially when we got ice cream.

Working in a larger company means that there are many people who you could talk to for a coffee chat or for a quick lunch. Depending on how often you talk to different employees in different departments, you could cultivate strong work relationships. Having a grasp of the company’s operations can take longer. However, networking in a corporation can help you get used to socializing and doing job interviews.


Photo courtesy of Leon via Unsplash.

As a newcomer to Silicon Valley with little work experience, a satisfying job would also include the ability to give and receive feedback for your work. The ability to receive guidance from your peers should be taken into consideration so that you can get better at your job.

Start-ups have many tasks to do amongst a small team, so it is normal to have multiple meetings in a single work day. You can easily talk to the CEO of the company for feedback or approval since he or she will be a few feet away from your workspace. The frequent meetings make it easier to voice out suggestions to finetune a project, or to be notified of when a project has been cancelled. I appreciated having easy access to my peers as a shy underclassmen.

Working in a larger company means that you will be socializing within your department, so you cannot easily talk to the higher-ups. There may be a chance that your project has been put to a halt, or that tasks have been miscommunicated. The work meetings may not be as frequent, so you will have more time to work by yourself. If you do have questions, responses from your peers may take longer. Use this alone time to push your creativity and problem solve.

Time to Explore

Photo courtesy of Alessandro Erbetta via Unsplash.

The best way to figure out if a job is right for you is whether or not you can see yourself at the company for more than two years. Do as much research as you can about the company prior to the interview, including looking at their Glassdoor reviews. A great job is more than its facilities or perks. What it really comes down to is the culture and your potential coworkers.

If you can see yourself working well at the company with your interviewers, then you found your next stepping stone in your professional development journey. You’ve found the perfect match.

Do you have any other tips for choosing the perfect company to work at? Were you surprised by the criteria for your ideal company? Let us know in the comments below so we can help other Spartans.


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