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Software Engineer at Instagram/Facebook, iOS Developer on the side, and Open Source C

My name is Ryan Nystrom, Software Engineer at Instagram

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  • Do you learn more at a startup or a corporate company?

    Hope this doesn't create a war here on CareerDean. Curious to hear what people think is a better learning opportunity. Especially for someone in college, we think about this all the time. Should I start my career at a startup or a big company? For purposes of this argument, let's define startup as having less than 1000 employees.

    Please disregard any factors other than learning potential. For example, don't say something like "you may learn more at a startup, but work-life balance is better at corporate." I am willing to sacrifice work-life balance (I know a lot of CS students would) early on in my career for unmatched learning opportunities.

    Looking forward to what this community has to say! Especially if you have worked at both types, chime in!

    Ryan Nystrom's avatar image.

    It all depends on what you make of it, but from my own personal experience, mentorship accelerates learning, and the best opportunities for mentorship come at larger companies.

    I've worked at a few smaller places and learned a lot about prioritizing time, managing others, and making compromises. But when it comes to learning about technology and engineering, nothing in my past comes relatively close to what I've been doing at Facebook, which by all means, is a rather large company.

    That's not to say you can't learn 10x more than what I've learned at a startup. Smaller shops can attract incredibly talented and self-motivated individuals. I would just argue that the chance of connecting w/ someone at a smaller place that actually has time to mentor you is slimmer.