If you are starting out as a beginner Data Scientist, one of the most important questions you might have is where to start your career. Startup (a relatively small company starting up) or MNC(Multi-National Company-a big company like Google)?
In this article, we will address this issue once and for in order to gain clarity as you proceed in your career.
The decision taken at the start of your career is very crucial and profound since your career growth depends on it, and as such you MUST think twice !!
We will address this conundrum (a state of confusion) based on the following 5 pillars:
- Available Opportunities
- Specialist Vs Generalist
- Skill Development(Future growth)
Before we begin, I assume that you already have developed some level of a Data Science skill and you are in the stage of applying for a job. However, if you don’t have the relevant Data Science skills that will put your profile ahead of others and get you hired, then I personally recommend this hands-on course on Udemy which will easily equip you with the most relevant skills.
Let’s get started…!!
Whether you will think of starting your career in a Startup or MNC, the first thing to consider is the degree of availability of the kind of job role you are looking and whether you even going to meet their job requirement.
Now putting this in mind, let’s juxtapose(compare side by side) the two phenomenon-job availability in Startup Vs MNC
Data Science jobs are continue-sly growing in both Startups and MNCs and this trend is even expected to boom in the upcoming years.
Over the past 3 or 4 years, the most Startups that has emerged are more data driven than ever, thereby open up more opportunities for data related roles. Again, most investors are now more inclined to investing in data driven Startups as the ROI (return of investment) in such companies turns to be high. This has called for most Startups to spend large amount of their budget looking for data related talents-such as Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Business Analyst, Machine Learning engineer, etc.
Although many Data Science job descriptions and requirements can be very demanding, it is quite exacting in Startups. Most Startups gives flexibility and employ freshers or beginners and groom them over time.
People with experience easily grab Startup data science positions, although, as I mention earlier, there is much chance for a fresher or beginner to also easily grab a data scientist job in a Startup.
Most MNCs are already data driven and know what they want if they open up a role to employ a Data Scientist. Most often, MNCs will prefer someone with a working experience to be employed as a Data Scientist, at least someone with a domain knowledge.
If you examine the job requirement for an MNC, you realise that most of the time, they will mention specifically 2+, 3+, 7+, etc years of experience with some specifically defined skills. The best bet for a fresher to enter into an MNC as a Data Scientist is through internship (highest chance) or with some strong significant relevant profile.
Therefore, if you plan to enter an MNC as a Data Scientist, take advantage of their internships(almost all MNCs have internship opportunities for student-visit the particular companies website to apply).
Hint: look for referral on Linkedin that works in that company, that makes it easier to grab the internship. Don’t forget the internships are also competitive and referrals can help.
In a nutshell, Data Science jobs are available in both Startups and MNCs. Freshers are more likely to get hired as Data Scientist in Startups than MNCs.
Word of Advice: If you are a fresher or switching roles to a Data Science domain, and you are targeting an MNC, then start from a Startup to create a strong profile for at least a year mastering specific skills(more on this later) and then start hunting for data science jobs in MNCs-you will stand a better chance.
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The money is the main ish here. Working as a Data Scientist is not like watching your favourite TV show, you can stare at you computer screen for 3 days without a single smile, just to fix a bug.
And you think the salary is not important?
Passion is there, but that is behind the salary. In fact, most serious Data Scientists are socially outcast just like most software engineers, 24×7 on the laptop. I am one of them so I know the feeling.
The job is exciting when you see your results out there-for example when you build a very robust recommendation system and see it performing excellently well, it’s very fulfilling. But trust me, it takes more than just a passion to do that.
The MONEY is very important !!
Most Startups with good funding has a very awesome salary package as well as other additional packages to make your life easier. However, there are quite a number of Startups that are either self funding or has not secured enough funding or maybe has bad management system and as such, salaries become an issue when you enter into such companies.
Some Startups pay as high as you can get in MNCs or even better. However, if take into consideration the security of your salary, then be cautious. Some Startups are hardly breaking-even(neither making profit nor loss-just surviving), you wanna be a victim of their sorrows.
Word of Advice: when applying for Startups, find out if they have enough funding, at the extreme, find out their financial statement for last year, read their salary ratings on Glassdoor, reach out to at least 3 people already working in the company to make your enquiries, don’t just jump into the company to crucify yourself!!
In MNCs, money is not a problem !!
They can make turn your life in one month and make create a paradise for you if you have the skillset they require. If you entering into an MNC, don’t even worry about the salary one bit. That is sorted!!
Remember, a Startup is starting up and most of the time, even roles in the company are not well defined. You will find the accountant playing the role of a financial analyst and the product manager doubling as a business development specialist. That’s how things are. With a limited resource, every Startup wants to survive and therefore every employee is a doctor that is treating the company of different diseases that they have little or no knowledge of.
So what should you expect? Well, expect to be a Ninja….lol
In a Startup, you will have the title as a Data Scientist, Data Analyst, Data Engineer, Machine learning Engineer, Business Analyst or whatever, but expect to be all of them. If the Startup is not a bit organised and well funded, they won’t have the means to employ different people for diverse roles and therefore any role or work close to yours will be assign to you.
In my previous company (a Startup), my title was machine learning engineer, and my real role? well, right from framing business problems, talking to customers to understand their needs well, mining the data, building and deploying machine learning models, all the way to building dashboards to explain to business owners what is happening behind the scene.
I was more like Jack Bauer in 24 X 7…lol
Is it good or bad?
The bad side is that, it is a stressful way of life, especially at the level of salary that will come at the end.
The good side is that, when you work in such situations for say 2 years. You become a Unicorn yourself. You get to amass numerous kinds of skills that you can only imagine to have. You get to know the end-to-end of the entire data science ecosystem and therefore, as soon you see a Data Science project, you know where to start and how it will end.
NB: Most Startups these days are well funded and have defined roles and therefore, you are likely to find a Startup that will make the work easier for you.
In MNC, they know what they want and they have what it takes to hire what they want. They hire Specialist !!
They hire someone to help them solve a specific problem. For instance, Amazon will hire a Data Scientist with specialisation in say NLP(Natural Language Processing), or CV(Computer Vision) or a Data Scientist with AWS expertise but not any general Data Scientist.
MNC can hire you to work on a specific problem that demands specific set of skill, maybe for months if not years. That’s how it works. In my current position at Microsoft, I only build and validate ML models, that’s it. But the salary is 5x when I was a Jack Bauer in a Startup. However, the learning process is also half of what I was getting when I was in a Startup. In MNC, you hardly get to work in say the finance, it doesn’t really happen. There are some folks in the same company, but you will never meet even after 2 or 3 years of working in the same company and same branch. But in Startup, you will even been invited to family gatherings and naming ceremonies..lol, you will get to know the workers and their family members.
Word of Advice: it helps to gain an initial skill in a startup, then shift to an MNC
This really depends on your objectives. In a Startup, you will have the chance to taste every skill of the entire data science ecosystem. You will learn different tools, you will handle different business problems, work with different kinds of people, data and other things you have not even thought of. This builds you up to face any future situation as a Data Scientist.
In MNC, you will have the advantage to specialise in one thing and become a master at it.You will have the opportunity to work on a problem statement that will bring a big shift in the society. You master what you work on in an MNC and they create the environment in every way possible for you to become a specialist in what you do.
In a Startup, whether you will have a pay increase, or your job will be available in the next 6 months depends in whether the company will be able to survive up to that point. The vision and mission of the CEO in a Startup plays an important role in the stability of your career in a Startup. The CEO can mess-up things for you or create an amazing life for you. Salaries depend heavily on ROI (return on investment). If the company progresses, you progress (if you don’t have a greedy CEO). If the company suffers any hardship, you are likely to experience pay cut (especially if the company is not having enough funding) or at worst, lost of job.
In an MNC, you are likely to experience a more stable employment. You can face hardships such as cut in salary or even lost of job but that is very very rare.
I hope by now you have a clearer picture of the two scenarios.
So what is the Final say?
Startup is good for anyone who wants to gain an experience, especially beginners. If you want to join an MNC, it is very helpful to start from a Startup and then use your experience to grab an MNC position.
For students who want to enter MNC straight from college, it is important to keep their eye on internships that are offered by these MNC, most of which you will find on the companies website.
For experienced professionals aiming to work in MNC, it is paramount to consider your area that you have your best knowledge and use that to your advantage. Do not focus on so many skills but get down to one or two and master it back to back. You are the one MNCs are looking for.
If you want to quickly start your career and get a solid background in data science and Machine Learning, then I personally recommend the following courses:
- Data Science and Machine learning Projects and Deployment Mastery.
- Python Crash Course.
- Python Data Analysis For Data Science & Machine Learning
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Have a nice day.