Friday, May 8, 2015

Placement Saga for Freshers - Startup IT companies versus MNCs

One of the most confusing situations faced by the students appearing for placement season is to whether to go for service based large multi-national companies or new startup based companies.

For a fresher, getting a job initially is of utmost important but while appearing for campus placements it gets too atypical for a student after getting selected in deciding whether to finally join that company or keep on searching for other better companies which may have better credibility and job security.

First of all, let’s have a clear distinction between what exactly is the difference between startup companies and large multinational companies which have a brand image in the job market.
Even all large companies like TCS, Infosys, and Wipro were once startup companies only. With time and experience, the companies evolved themselves into something renowned and credible in the industry with the number of projects under them kept on increasing and more experienced and skilled people becoming part of the organizations.

The trend of startup companies got bloom in the early 90s with new and effective foreign policy by the then Government which allowed many talented and skilled people who had passion for entrepreneurship to quit conventional jobs and start their own companies. All such policy changes allowed non-Indian companies to invest in these startups which appeared to have bright future and better ideas. But since the new millennium, the startup  culture just got accelerated and 'startup' is the buzz word in IT industry. 

Now for freshers like us, who were in job market a short while ago and for those who will be  searching for jobs in upcoming months, it will be confusing situation for them about deciding where to start off their careers with.

In India, most big IT companies are serviced based while the other new startup companies are product based. If I try to put this in a different analogy then consider the example of a car service station and a car manufacturing plant – at one place you bring your car to get it serviced, engineers service the cars, perform the repairs, replace the parts, do modification to the engine/car and keep in good shape by regular maintenance etc., While if you go to car manufacturing plant, engineers actually produce and develop cars. So where you will learn? Well, you will learn at both places albeit in a different manner!  However, this is not completely true that big companies only offer services and no products while new startup companies provide products only! Here is a distinction – Big companies cater more to the service based work which though also includes application development albeit at a smaller scale.

 All IT major companies provide following services – Custom Application development, Application maintenance and support, Application testing and deployment, Outsourcing, Business analysis, Product development and lots of other things including overall R&D. In big companies you will find these departments spanning in large dimensions with work flow scattering through various people – that means concentration is widespread. While in small companies like a startup, you have small team with work similar to what IT majors do, but here is a catch – they focus on a particular product or a particular industry and provide their services to cater the needs of the clients.

Most of the big companies gets projects which are developed for years and once they are finished, the maintenance and support work occupies most of the workload. In these big companies if you get a job, as a fresher mostly you will land up in one of the maintenance and support project irrespective of the technology you are trained into. Maintenance and support consists of rectifying issues, fixing bugs, making modifications and providing L2/L3 support which includes doing changes in coding as per client requirement in day to day issues which arises during the functioning of the application. Since the projects are large, the support and maintenance work goes on for years and years. Most of the revenues of the IT majors come from testing, maintenance and support work which they offer to a client. It is not the case that only this work happens – development of new projects also takes place, but the ratio of development and maintenance/testing/support/miscellaneous work is somewhat around 35/65! So here you can see the difference.

Startup companies on other hand are actually started with a specific product and solution in the mind of the founders of the company. They have a product, a solution to a problem, an idea which they developed and sell into the market. Clients often go with startup companies as they get a fresh innovative concept at much cheaper price than what they could have got as custom application development from big IT majors. Startup companies are easily approachable, negotiable in customization and of course, the pricing. Now here we are talking of the overview of the work which takes place in these types of companies. How does it effect or make a difference to us i.e. the fresher who is entering the mammoth IT industry with hopes and aspirations to make a remarkable career in the information technology line. And when I am talking about startup companies - do consider their age as well. Any startup will be at its best when it will be under 10 years of its birth. Slowly after that time, most of these companies gets expanded, bought over, merged with multiple companies and the spark of a startup is usually gone. 

I am working for a large IT company right now while I also got a chance to work in a startup company – though my stint at this startup was small one, but it still gave me enough insights on how things work. I am not talking particularly about any company but as a general overall scenario in the IT industry as a whole. 

 In startup companies, you get the exposure which will enable you to learn faster. When I say exposure, it means you get hands on the real world projects very soon. And this hands on is on the development work from scratch. You are part of the team which is making a project which has a tight deadline and one has to work hard and fast to deliver the solution. Now since everything has a flip side – you do get to work fast, you learn fast but if you are not able to perform up to expectations or your performance is not at par, you simply get fired. On the job training in startup companies are not very exhaustive but whatever training you get, it is useful for the kind of work they are doing.

Package wise, startup offers decent salaries excluding some exceptions. Startup companies, though offers good work exposure, also makes you reel under pressure. Job security is not much. Increment wise, startup companies offer you better hike. Office timings always gets extended - often managers tries to extract every penny out of you which they are paying. 

In large IT MNCs, the concentration of work is spread across widely. You as a fresher is assigned a project after your training irrespective of what technology you studied in your training. You like java but you get to do testing, you like .net but you land up doing some project built using some 3rd party tools about which you never have heared off and most probably these tools will be phased out in coming years. Learning curve is slow – work culture is not really professional. Often you get a feel that one works in government organization where work flows through written emails. 

Managers treat you on the basis of the relation you have with them and not on the basis of your performance. People get onsite chances if you are manager boot lickers. Sexism is prevalent accross IT industry(both startup and MNCs) in fact in all industry but here males are affected negatively. Some of your female peers gets better onsite opportunity and increments irrespective of performance or whether they deserve it or not./*No offense intended*/ Politics? That’s omnipresent. Well, that is different black side of IT industry err in fact every industry.

 Anyways that’s different topic and deserves a separate article for discussion.  Large IT companies have benefits also; you get good quality training before you get a project. Though the project you will be working on has no relation with the technology you studied but it somehow gives you lots of insights about it. Trust me, even if you hate a technology, you will start liking it and begin to learn on your own and you can start working as a freelancer which will help you make a switch with decent hike irrespective of the project you were doing – be it any profile, testing or whatever. Job security wise big IT companies are better. You don’t perform well in a project? Chances are you will not be fired but will get a project release and you will be transferred to resource pool which might get you in a different project which might seem interesting to you. Service based companies offer great onsite opportunities which are not much in startups.  Pay cheque wise most big IT companies exploits fresher – pays peanuts to them, increment is fixed – hardly any special performance hike whatever! 

IT industry is w-i-i-i-d-e! I as a fresher who has experience of 10 months, got so much insight after having seen both startup and large companies that I can keep on writing about it without any conclusive closure! Sometimes I feel disappointed also with the unstable state of IT – feels like quitting as well – but as a fresher who just has begun his career I have learnt that working on your area of interest separately, learning on your own, keep working on whatever you have to do right now and working hard will pay you the rewards irrespective of the company or project you are working for, bootlickers around, or perhaps bad luck landing upon you – in spite of all the negativity around you will be rewarded after few years down the line when you will be switching to different companies. Companies and package simply don't matter.Money itself will flow if you are doing the right work. Because in the end all matters is good intentions and passion!

Learning is not dependent on any company. It is dependant on the person only. If you have positive attitude and outlook along with the passion to do something, good things will happen to you no matter what the situation might have been earlier. It will take some time, but the patience will be worth. Keep on doing few freelancing project or self projects at home related to technologies from your area of interest along with what you are doing at your workplace and after 2-3 years of industrial experience, you are all set for further deep dive. Join whatever company you get placed into, gain two-three years of experience, learn a lot, stay good at heart, work hard and get rewards after that. Hoping same for myself! 

Work, Play and Live!

Good luck... 

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