Chris McCann's Personal Blog

Life's too short to not do awesome things

Comparing Life Paths – The Corporate Life vs. The Entrepreneurial & Startup Life

with 3 comments

what path direction do I take? Corporation vs. startup enrepreneurship

Photo by HaMeD!caL

With June around the corner students around the globe will be graduating from college and making a major decision in their lives: Do I get a corporate job? Or do I choose the path of entrepreneurship and create my own career path?

With my graduation date set for June 14th I have been contemplating the same questions over and over again, and I’ve heard a ton of advice from a ton of different people. I wanted to share some of the best I’ve heard and share the story of what I am planning on doing.

Perspective #1

Ben Casnocha who I’ve written about previously paints the two major life philosophies in a very to understand concept. There are 2 life paths one can take:

  1. The textbook path to life
  2. The throw out and write your own textbook path to life

Path #1 – The textbook path to life is a very familiar path, this is the path where you go to college, strive to get good grades, work a few internships, interview with a lot of companies, pick a good stable corporation, continue working the corporate ladder, have a successful life, and be happy.

This is definitely the path of least resistance. The positives are you can work your 9-5 and then after work completely forget about everything related to work and peruse your own interests whether they are partying with friends, traveling to cool places, a hobby, keeping up to date with sports, etc. You work hard during “work time” but your work and life outside of work are kept separate. Life is somewhat predictable, your emotions are easily controllable, and your mind is clear and free of all the worries of work and its much easier to enjoy.

Path #2 – The throw out and write your own textbook path to life is the scary path to life. This is the path where your family and close friends ask what are you doing with your life?! This is the path that has no set rules, no set boundaries, and it is very unique to each person.

This is definitely the path of most resistance. The positives are you can do what you love and express your values & beliefs through the career path you choose. You have the opportunity to make a huge difference and impact to the world but this potential comes at a cost. In this path life unpredictable, your emotions become much harder to control and much more volatile, and the line between work and life can easily become blurry if not cross over completely.


Perspective #2

Jun Loayza, a new friend of mine, who I met at UCLA wrote this very intriguing post on the subject:

In it he shares his personal experience of corporate life and his transition to the entrepreneurial life. Here are a few things I took away from his post:

  • The corporate life has lower responsibility (there whole team of people who can pick up the slack)
  • The corporate life was comfortable and relaxing
  • The corporate life did not use his talents to the maximum capacity
  • The startup life is a much more riskier proposition
  • The startup life is much more time intensive (Jun works 100+ hours a week)
  • The startup life forces you to push yourself to your limit and take on much more personal responsibility (there is no safety net)
  • The startup life is not better than the corporate life and vice versa, it all depends on what type of person you are and the situation you are in.


Perspective #3

The last perspective I want to share comes from Sramana Mitra, who I was recently introduced to through one of my professors Mitch Wolf.

She wrote an interesting post touching on the corporate life vs. entrepreneurial life with the focus group of the top engineering students from one of the worlds top Universities, Stanford.

Here are some interesting points I got from the article:

  • Working for a big corporation leads to a narrow skill-set
  • The skills required for entrepreneurship are “frighteningly” wide
  • Working for a startup might be a better preparatory step to working in a corporation
  • Consulting and corporate experience is valuable for a short period of time            


My Story

I definitely subscribe the lifestyle of entrepreneurship (hence the name of my blog) much of which has been installed in me though my experiences growing up and especially during college at Cal Poly, check out my About Page for more about these experiences. With graduation coming up in June though I am now finally starting to realize the huge risk I am taking and the amount of work I am going to need to do.

However I think I have finally decided what I want to do (at least after I graduate!) but I can’t release all the info about it now. More details to come soon…


What path did you take? How did you make your decision? Share your story in the comment section! 


3 Responses

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  1. Hey Chris, thanks for the mention on your blog. There is such a huge contrast between the two worlds that it’s very important for undergrads to understand the major differences between the two.

    Startup life is tough, but it’s definitely a fun roller coaster ride.

    – Jun Loayza

    Jun Loayza

    May 6, 2009 at 3:26 pm

  2. thanks for the comments. I always thought the choice was a no-brainer and I would be an entrepreneur with no doubts forever but I’m starting to realize its a real hard path to pursue and forgo all of the safety net you would get at a regular job. I can now see why entrepreneurship is the path taken by few…

    Said that though I would never trade this lifestyle for anything and worst case if everything falls apart and I completely fail at least it will be an adventure none the less!

    Chris McCann

    May 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm

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