Working for MNC vs. Start-up. Which One Fits You Better?

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Are you seeking your first job? It’s normal to get confused about which kind of workplace you should apply for. While every company has its own unique working culture, it’s not impossible to imagine the work environment based on the organization’s business structure. Nowadays, two groups are attractive to young workers: MNCs and start-ups. Which one fits you better?

We’re sure you already know someone working in MNC. Multinational corporations (or simply multinationals) are big companies that typically have facilities or offices in several countries. One of your family members might already be a part of them! They are known for being prominent in their operations and revenue. 

 If you’re a fan of Korean Dramas, maybe you’ve heard of “Start-Up,” a TV series about young entrepreneurs aspiring to succeed in South Korea’s high-tech industry. Just like in the drama, start-ups are young companies that have just begun to develop. Their ideas are fresh, so they need great effort to sustain in the market.

Between MNCs and start-ups, which type of workplace will fit you better? Let’s dissect their differences to find out. We will cover the recruitment process, company culture, workload, prestige, and security they both offer.

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Recruitment process

MNC: You might hear rumors that multinational corporations prefer graduates from top universities. There might be a little truth here since MNCs do their hiring process on a large scale. Recruiters in multinationals deal with tons of applicants. Therefore, they truly rely on each applicant’s resume to filter the best candidates. Whether you like it or not, your university and GPA are the most straightforward basis for multinational companies to hire you.

Start-up: Recruitment and hiring are done at start-ups looking at their passion for work rather than just the texts on your resume. Many higher-ups in start-ups agree to, “Never hire for skills, hire for passion. Skills are cheap; Passion is hard to come by.” A growing company needs passionate employees.

Company culture

MNC: It’s common to see drama among employees. Not only because multinationals have a large number of employees, but a lot of them are also eager to enjoy power in a large industry.  Since you are just one person among many in the company, recognition is rare, and you can feel out of place. Each multinational has its preferred dress code that workers need to follow.  

Start-up: Only a small number of people work in a start-up. So, it’s easier for you to get close to other employees and have a sense of belonging. Start-ups usually have a less rigid company structure, including flexible working hours and a casual working atmosphere. It’s common to see start-up employees work in casual clothes.

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MNC: A multinational recruits employees based on their expertise, so you will only specialize in your area of work. This can lift the pressure off you because you will have less responsibility as an individual and be the master of your trade. However, some people believe that the routine might lead to boredom.

Start-up: Start-up companies must keep up with trends to grow and remain relevant. Since start-ups don’t have many employees, you can expect to work long hours and take on multiple responsibilities at once. Employees often have to work as extreme as 80-hour per week to support a start-up.


MNC: People will most likely recognize the company you’re working for. Your family, friends, and alma mater will probably tell everyone that you’re hired by a multinational. Working in a big company often comes with benefits, such as gym membership, trips, and paid transport. 

Start-up: If someone asks where you work, they will most likely not recognize your company. The sad reality is that a start-up name often won’t look impressive on your CV to future employers. However, working for a start-up means that you are dedicated to a cause and have developed several skills lacking in big companies, such as creativity. Some employers may prefer former start-up employees for this reason.

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MNC: You are less likely to lose your job through the company collapsing in a multinational. A multinational often rewards the employees with a pension, so you don’t have to worry about retirement.

Start-up: A regularly cited figure is that 90% of start-ups fail. However, working at a start-up can help you learn the skills which will help you start your own business someday. Some people say that working in a start-up is a middle point between being an entrepreneur and a full-time regular corporate employee.

Final thoughts

As we can see, a multinational offers prestige and security that many people are looking for. On the other hand, working for a start-up can be rewarding for adventurous people to learn about entrepreneurship.

Varsha Kadyan, an Indian HR professional who runs a YouTube channel called Corporate Diaries, pointed out that the structured way of work in MNCs is better for young people who have zero knowledge about professional life. On the other hand, she opines that start-ups are perfect for people who are already confident in their skills and approach to solving problems.

It’s okay if you’re still confused. We’re aware that the only way to be sure is to experience the workplace yourself. In AIESEC, we offer Global Talent program to connect international talents (like you!) with professional businesses. Sign up for Global Talent program and experience working in a multinational or a start-up!

We hope this blog can help you to understand the difference between multinationals and start-ups. Read our other blogs to find out more about employment, youth leadership, and many more! Don’t forget to share this with your friends who might be curious about working in multinationals and start-ups.


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