When you are working on your career and deciding which job opportunity may be best for you, oftentimes most of us decide to go the corporate route, since it seems like it’s the most stable. Corporate outfits and large companies seem to be the way to go; benefits, vacation pay, bonuses, stock options, promotions, mobility, etc. Most people assume that working for a large corporation will offer them the best opportunities.
But if you’ve paid attention to most of the business news of the last fifteen years, smaller companies, start-ups, and boutique firms are the it thing. And many of these new businesses offer the same, if not more than a large firm does. Start-ups offer more of less structured work environment where there are less cubicles and more group settings for employee interaction and brainstorming. And it’s these start-ups that are making big waves in business and actually competing well against older, larger old-school corporations.
CEO Melissa Thompson of Talk Session, recently gave some sound advice for people who are deciding whether to go small or big when it comes to their employment choices.
Check out what Melissa has to say about jumping in to work for a start-up or starting your own and the risks involved; pros and cons to think about.
The corporate “holy grail” jobs are often inversely correlated to happiness
Goldman, Bain, BCG, Morgan Stanley…. Are all the same names despite market and moral turbulence. Enter Sharon – an anomalous example of a classmate who proved a useful lesson. After a year’s worth of 16 hour days in glass offices with her friend Excel (together creating strategy matrixes), she left her Consultant title and six-figure salary, and took her Ivy MBA to become a bartender in Canada.
Tired of urban life, and truly happiest when engaged in casual conversations, she realized vanity does not equal happiness in a job. Startups can hardly be glamorous, yet given Sharon’s training, I would put money on her ability to make a perfectcocktail from a recipe – she is not necessarily a startup gal, but she did learn that she is better suited for casual conversations with strangers while she’s shaking and stirring.
An unrealized problem amongst most of my corporate peers is that recipes are guides, not rules. To make any individual’sideal cocktail, it would likely diverge from the exact formula. Starting a company is creating one’s ideal concoction, for those who can accept the risks.
Perfect matches are hard to find in love, friendships, and careers
The only perfect, complete match, is found in math. In practical life, there are no one-size fits all jobs, quizzes or algorithms that can dictate happiness.
Some of us are born Type-A entrepreneurs who start businesses out of their parent’s garages. Some, like me, go through a push-and-pull process to potentially have the chutzpah to jump from corporate to startup.
We rely on “corporate security,” (call it “resume building”) and spend a few years in which everyday seems incredibly important, yet over time aggregates into a bland resume block that garners respect, but also accounts for time lost.
You are the job, you are the recipe
Creating a completely new venture is not easy. There is no padding to fall back on aside from the trust I have in myself. But like Sharon, I broke it down. What is at the core of my happiness? Fixing inefficiencies, technology, self-exploration and improvement, entrepreneurial collaboration, reading about studies in psychology, and the agility to move around physically and between projects. How was I going to find that match in a job?
I could not and did not want to. I started TalkSession. It is no different for me than anyone else who might fit in to this paradigm of creating the job and the recipe: you have to do it, no one else will.
However, dipping in a toe is okay, too
Corporate environments provide security, structure and salary. Startups provide a blank canvas. Everyone falls at a different place on the spectrum of risk tolerance and I do not wish to preach to everyone to take that leap.
Even if the startup is not your idea and despite your intact 401k, everyone can participate in the entrepreneurial process and at least alter the corporate recipe a bit more to his or her liking. We spend so much time dedicated to our jobs – we best be happy doing it.
More than half of my team spends their 9 to 5’s at full-time jobs. I keep my office open after hours, on weekends, and cater to their schedules. My startup gives my team the infrastructure to keep their job and simultaneously leave their legacy.
Whether it is through angel investing, participation in brainstorm sessions, or sharing contacts, everyone on the spectrum can participate in the startup process and take a change at changing the world.
To have a startup one needs to realize the worst-case scenario of falling down with no cushion. Whatever your next move might be, do the research and make an informed decision. I love the startup world and for me, there is no going back. But certainly that is not for everyone. Jumping into risky and unpredictable waters can be scary, but if you have the chops and the dreams, I believe it will be worth it. And if you are risk averse, you do not have to bleed corporate blue or include the JPMorgan Challenge on your list of “things to do.” There are ways to participate in the startup world, make a mark on the world, and still maintain some security.
So there you have it. Working for a corporate giant is okay, but deciding to work for a start-up or start your own boutique company is okay too. If you don’t try, how will you know it can be done? Sometimes, the risk may be worth it.
What are your thoughts? Are you sticking with corporate or going out on your own with a start up or start working for one?
Melissa Thompson Bio
Melissa Thompson left a burgeoning Wall Street career as a trader with Goldman Sachs to become a female pioneer in the world of technology. She is currently the CEO and co-founder of TalkSession, Inc., an online counseling platform in beta mode, that will connect users with highly credible professionals for on-demand, mobile therapy and counseling sessions using proprietary algorithm matching and artificial intelligence. With this cutting-edge technology, TalkSession, Inc. will not only fix inefficiencies in the healthcare system and help de-stigmatize therapy, but help people and inspire them to take risks.
Melissa’s yen for entrepreneurship and social impact was hard felt after exiting the largely male dominated world of finance, where she traded emerging market and commodity derivatives for Goldman Sachs for nearly four years. Her technology career began when Melissa assumed the position of director of business development for Intercast Network, a rich-media interactive platform with a patent-pending technology that allows brands to deliver live content and utilize real-time analytics to increase brand and consumer engagement. She was then named Technology Editor of SCENE magazine, the recently announced publication of The New York Observer. Melissa has helped numerous companies in their digital media and technology innovation campaigns including the United Nations, Chanel, Forbes Magazine, Jetsetter, Publicis, the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, and the New York Stock Exchange.
For TalkSession, Melissa has cultivated a highly impressive Advisory Board, including top mental health physicians at Columbia University and Harvard Medical School, an award-winning epidemiologist, design expert, and a MoMa web designer.
Melissa holds a BA from Barnard College in Economics and studied Chinese and global business strategy at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China. She earned her MBA from Columbia Business School, with a focus on new media, management, and social entrepreneurship.