Think twice before taking up a startup job, say students

  • Rozelle Laha, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Dec 23, 2015 14:06 IST
Most startups offer hefty salary packages with employee stock ownership plan options to attract talent from the top institutes. (iStock)

Last year saw the participation of a good number of startups in placements across some top institutions in the country, including Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). Recent job cuts at several startups, including popular campus recruiters like, TinyOwl and Zomato, however, have put a question mark over the desirability of their jobs.

“We do want to have as many recruiters on campus as possible and in the process we don’t mind getting startups too. What we have observed is that while a traditional recruiter may hire 25 students, startups tend to hire one or two graduates on a very high package. So, the filtering of startups happens at a personal level wherein graduates take a call,” says a second-year student at IIM, who did not want to be named.

Read more: Afraid of risks? Don’t join startups: Mahesh Murthy

Most startups offer hefty salary packages with employee stock ownership plan (ESOPs) options and attractive profiles with lots of responsibilities to attract talent from the top institutes. Sanidhya Narain, a student at Faculty of Management Studies, University of Delhi, says, “Some startups seem very promising when they come to campus, primarily because they have raised funds recently and are expanding, but their expansion usually is not so sustainable and at times students witness a sudden lay-off within a year or so. This, at times, puts a B-school graduate in a very difficult situation.”

For final-year students gearing up for this year’s placement season, joining a startup firm or an established organisation is a dilemma and most agree that there is some amount of ‘risk’ associated with their decision. A lot of students say they’re excited about joining the startups for the compensation and role flexibility that they offer.

Amit Manohar, member of senior placement committee at IIM Ranchi, observes, “Some startups pay almost three times the salary offered by an established firm and some students fall for the fat pay cheques. However, the stark reality is that there’s a chance that they will be fired after a year or so. We are well-informed about the risk factor. At IIM Ranchi, the established brands are preferred on campus over startups because of job security and stability of companies. Students do not go by the belief that salaries are high at startups and usually go to them (startups) as a last resort.”

For Narain, joining a startup is equivalent to going to a war. “If you do well and the startup performs well, the rewards are huge and there is a sudden spike in your career. If, however, your startup fails, like an army soldier who just lost a battle, you are exposed to a market which might tag you as incompetent.”

However, some students prefer startups as they feel their careers will grow faster as good work will be recognised easily among a small number of employees.

“Though there are risks involved in joining a startup, on joining conventional big recruiters, my learning will only be limited to a specific role in a certain department. Due to the hierarchical structure, it will be difficult for me to pitch in my ideas and work independently.,” says a student from an older, reputed IIM, on condition of anonymity.

Read more: Campuses draw up checklist for startup recruiters, blacklist some

Look before you leap

Sustainibility: A sustainable startup will attract good employees at low packages

Funding: A well-funded startup is there to stay around for a while, cutting your early job risks

Office life: Talk to exisiting employees to get a sneak peek into life at the startup

Financial health: Register yourself at the website of Registrar of Companies and check the startup’s growth potential

Job description: Don’t go by the designation alone, read the job description

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