Why talented engineers are leaving corporates to join startup land
‘Big Tech’ is suffering from a great resignation of workers — less because of pandemic-related motivations, but more because they’re inspired to join a company where siloes are broken and agility is praised.
With many data analysts and engineers wondering if leaving enterprise tech for a startup is career suicide, for me it’s been the opposite. Working in a big company is similar to trying to make the boat row faster when you’re on the Titanic — you simply don’t get to make the impact you imagined.
Data analysts and engineers are rapidly shifting gears, no longer pursuing corporate careers but instead looking for opportunities in high-growth startups. I was one of those who decided to take the plunge, excited by the opportunity to influence and impact the company’s trajectory by building solutions from scratch.
Why the shift?
Engineers are proving they can easily do their jobs from anywhere, often working with remote teams around the world to ensure technology is working round the clock. As such, they feel less compelled to come into the office and work the traditional nine-to-five model. Prior to the pandemic, engineers felt they had to flock to huge tech hubs to secure their dream jobs at major technology firms. However, when you strip back the company label, engineers are finding that working at a massive corporation might not give them the ownership they really dream of.
Alternatively, startups offer data professionals better involvement and influence over the product they’re focused on developing. Startup culture also tends to be a bit more collaborative with greater shared goals and objectives. While larger corporations claim they’ve learned to become more agile during the pandemic, they often struggle to collaborate due to different goals and focus across different teams.
Often, the focus of many large corporations is more on keeping things stable and making sure the operations don’t break. They often focus more on making sure the existing technology stack is running efficiently and effectively, and support those who are struggling to leverage the technology. In startups, our approach is very different — we focus more on building the best product for our customers, and we’re less scared of making mistakes as long as we learn from them. Hence we incentivise and promote creativity more than the big corporations do.
Evaluating a startup’s stability
Sometimes the biggest concern in choosing a startup over a large corporation is considering the longevity in your career there. There’s been an enormous amount of capital going into Australia’s technology sector in recent years, with 2021 being a banner year for the startup and capital scene. More than $10 billion was invested in local startup firms last year, backing an ecosystem that’s truly valued for its innovation.
While timing-wise, the tech sector is facing some headwinds, the caution in the market isn’t unique to just tech. Rising costs and external pressures are impacting businesses across the board, so don’t overlook what could be a great time for you to join a startup with the right opportunity. Before you join a startup, check public announcements and ask questions during the interview process that can point to a company’s growth trajectory to help alleviate any concerns.
If you’re the type of employee who places value on understanding your contributions to the team and product build, and who wants to fast-track your career in terms of learning skills, consider joining a startup. On the other hand, if you place greater importance on getting a notable name on your CV, then joining a big corporation might be a better fit.
Technology jobs offer a new level of economic and career opportunity that most can’t compete with, and with a surplus of technology roles opening, no time is better than now to test the waters, especially those of startup land.
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