Getting Hired

Why startup graduate jobs are better than traditional graduate schemes

For many recent graduates, the choice between joining a startup and a traditional graduate scheme can be a difficult one. Here's our thoughts on choosing between them.

For many recent graduates, the choice between a startup graduate job and a graduate scheme at an established company can be a difficult one. On the one hand, established companies offer the security and stability that come with a well-established brand and a proven track record. On the other hand, startups offer the opportunity to be part of something new and exciting, with the potential for rapid career growth and the chance to make a real impact. Great startups pay competitively, so salary is rarely a deciding a graduate scheme and a start up.  In this blog post, we will explore some of the reasons why startup graduate jobs may be the better choice for ambitious and entrepreneurial-minded individuals compared to graduates schemes which big companies hire for.

Opportunity for rapid career growth

One of the biggest advantages of startup graduate jobs is the potential for rapid career growth. Startups are often small, nimble organisations that are looking to quickly scale and grow. As a result, there are often many opportunities for talented and motivated employees to take on new responsibilities and progress quickly, even if it's their first job. This is particularly true for graduates, who often have the opportunity to work closely with the founders and other key senior leaders as part of a small team.

In contrast, established companies tend to have more rigid hierarchies and a slower pace of advancement. The traditional graduate scheme route will keep graduate employees on a specific location lasting 1-2 years. While it is certainly possible to see fast career progression at an established company shortly following graduate schemes, it may take longer to do so and require more patience and perseverance.

Chance to make a real impact

Another reason why startup graduate jobs may be a better choice is the opportunity to make a real impact on the company's success. Startups are often working on innovative and disruptive products or services, and every employee has the chance to contribute to the company's vision and make a difference, even when joining a startup straight from university. As a result, graduates at startups may have the opportunity to work on high-impact projects and see the results of their efforts firsthand.

It can be more difficult to make a significant impact at an established business early on in your career, where processes and systems may be more entrenched and there may be less flexibility to try new things. While it is certainly possible to make a difference at an established company, it may require over coming more red tape than in a small fast growing company.

Culture and work environment

Startup graduate jobs also offer the opportunity to be part of a unique culture and work environment, prioritising more flexible working. Startups tend to have a more casual and relaxed atmosphere, with a strong focus on collaboration and teamwork compared to a larger company. This can be a great fit for graduates who are focusing their job search on joining a more dynamic and supportive work environment.

In contrast, established companies may have more formal and hierarchical cultures, where teams do very specific jobs, which may not be as appealing to some graduates. While there are certainly exceptions, established companies may also have more bureaucratic processes and be less agile in their decision-making compared to a younger, smaller, fast growing company.

Learning and development opportunities

Startup graduate jobs can also provide excellent learning and development opportunities for recent graduates and are excellent for rapid professional and personal development. Because startups are often working on cutting-edge products and technologies, employees have the chance to learn and grow quickly. In addition, startups tend to have a more hands-on and entrepreneurial approach to work, which can provide valuable experience for graduates looking to develop their leadership and problem-solving skills. This can be particularly valuable for any graduates wanting to start their own business in the future.

Established companies may also offer learning and development opportunities, but these may be more structured and formalised, with promotions tied to their own academic recruiting cycle. While this can be beneficial for some graduates, particularly as it can give a significantly better overview of a career path compared to a startup, others may prefer the more flexible and self-directed approach.

Potential for financial rewards

Finally, it's worth considering the potential financial rewards and rapid career progression of working at a startup. While it's true that a startup may not always offer the same level of salary or benefits as a big company, they offer the opportunity to be part of a company that has the potential to grow and succeed. If a startup becomes successful, employees may have the chance to benefit financially through employees stock options, where the returns can be huge compared to traditional salary, bonuses and benefits.

Of course, it's important to note that the potential for financial rewards at startups is always accompanied by a certain level of risk. Startups are, by their nature, more uncertain and unpredictable than big corporates, and there is always the possibility that a startup may not succeed. However, for graduates who are willing to take on this risk, the potential rewards can be well worth it.

Flexibility and work-life balance

One final advantage of startup graduate jobs is the potential for greater flexibility and work-life balance. Because fast growing startups are often smaller businesses, there is often more flexibility in terms of work schedules and locations. This can be especially appealing for graduates who are looking to maintain a good balance between their professional and personal lives.

In contrast, large corporations may have more rigid policies and expectations around work hours and location, particularly for the graduate schemes. While there may be some flexibility, it is often less than what is offered at startups. This can be particularly challenging for those starting their graduate career, who may not be able to afford to move to London before starting a graduate job.

Of course, it's important to note that the level of flexibility and work-life balance offered by startups can vary greatly depending on the specific company and industry. Some startups may have demanding work schedules and cultures, while others may be more relaxed and flexible. It's important to do your research and understand the expectations of a specific startup before accepting a job offer.


In conclusion, startup graduate jobs offer many benefits for ambitious and entrepreneurial-minded graduates. These include the opportunity for rapid career growth, the chance to make a real impact on the company's success, a unique and dynamic culture and work environment, and excellent learning and development opportunities. While established companies can also be great places to work, they may not offer the same level of flexibility.

Ultimately, whether you feel you're better suited to startups or established brands, it's worth starting your job search early, ideally whilst still in your final year of university. Focusing on job searching early can help you find the perfect job in the right startup or the right graduate scheme in a larger business. Proving the business interests you and you find it genuinely meaningful work where you can work on a variety of different projects, you'll already be further ahead then many graduates out there. Good luck!

Other posts

Start your 14-day free trial

Automate campaign management.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
No credit card required
Cancel anytime