Help me choose between 2 positions!

Hey everyone, I have a dilemma. I’ve advanced through a pretty rigorous interview process with a software company, and I’m pretty sure they’re going to give me an offer. However, I’ve also been talking with a startup that is backed by Rice University, and they seem keen on hiring me as well.

Entry-Level Software Position

  • Ranked #1 place to work in Houston for about 10 years.
  • It has decent pay
  • They are career oriented
  • I’ll be using an archaic language called Visual DataFlex, which they will pay to teach me

Software Engineering Internship

  • Startup is backed by Rice University
  • I’ll be helping create a social platform for one of my own personal hobbies
  • It’s unpaid, but they’re offering 1%-5% equity
  • It’s a start up
  • I’ll be using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and may have the opportunity to play with iOS development

Can y’all please help me think through this?

What was the interview process like?

Which opportunity are you honestly more excited about?

Yeah I guess the 2nd question should really be the deciding factor, especially considering I’m not in dire need of money right now.

The developer interview process is kind of ridiculous.

  1. Apply
  2. Take an exam
  3. Phone interview
  4. Another exam
  5. 2 hours of interviews between 3 people
  6. Final interview with CEO

I think the startup will be more interesting, and I will grow a lot faster.

Were the exams/interviews like programming knowledge? Algorithm questions? JavaScript? Of course I want to know because I’ll be in the same boat soon…

If money is not a huge consideration I would lean towards the opportunity you are more excited about which you think will a) allow you to continue learning things you want to learn and b) do work you think is meaningful.

I think how well you like the team you’ll end up working with is important too.

The exams were mathematics/logic, which I think most people could pass. The company has pretty extensive OTJ, so there weren’t any algorithm challenges. I don’t think the developer job will be challenging enough.

No. Unpaid. Internships.


Are you saying no to unpaid internships? Or, no, don’t take the developer job, go with the internship?

I am absolutely saying no to unpaid internships. You are contributing value to the company and should be paid for your work.

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Should Developers work for equity only in fledgling startups is all over Quora.

Not that I have an opinion, I just think it would be wise to get an all round picture of what you could expect from that deal.

@ArielLeslie speaks the tone you can expect on Quora too in most cases.

I don’t even think unpaid internships should be legal. There have been attempts at legislation to address the problem, but there hasn’t been enough change. The fact that employers can get around minimum wage laws by claiming that you are gaining experience is insane.

That’s what I thought, I was just making sure.

Is that not a fair rationale? The internships lead to much higher paying jobs.


I’m no expert or even really qualified to answer this I’m just regurgitating what I’ve read on Quora. I also have no idea on the exact situation of your offer.

The thing is with startups is they’re always great and they’re often have a very enthusiastic ceo who thinks his idea is actually worth something. But it isn’t Worth anything without the execution. And neither is the equity. 5% of nothing is still nothing. If the company was worth anything you would not likely be getting offered 5% equity as an inexperienced software engineer.

They’re not taking a risk or doing you a favour. They’re looking for cheap labour and if goes south, then they haven’t lost anything by paying you and that equity was always 5% of nothing anyway. Sure there’s the experience, but let’s be honest you could set up a slack channel on here and build the startups software whenever you wanted. Then you could ring the CEO and ask him to come and sell it for you at 5% commission only.


Hopefully all professional jobs lead to higher paying jobs. This does not justify for-profit companies getting free labor. Getting offered an unpaid internship is being allowed to work for free.

You may also have been referring to the fact that people who have internships as students get better starting salaries at their first paid position. This makes sense because those individuals have months or years of work experience. But if internships are unpaid, that means that the only people who can accept them (and therefor get better jobs later) are people who can afford to work for free. I, for one, did not stop needing to eat or live indoors when I was at the beginning of my career.

I will tidy up my rant by linking to an Oatmeal comic: You’re doing it for the exposure


Haha f-no! :smile: been a while since I laughed at a comic @ArielLeslie

Get paid.

Once you have experience and can take risks you’ll have plenty of time to help out startups or even run your own. But starting out, you should see that the work you do has value.

The more of us that work for free, the more we will be expected to work for free by others.


@MARKJ78 @ArielLeslie thanks for looking out for me. Funny comic!

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Just chiming in to say that any decent internship in software will be paid. Highly recommend against taking the unpaid internship, although not always true, I’d say this is a good indicator that it is not the type of company you would want to work for.

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My advice is no unpaid internships, even if you can afford to work for free. It devalues the market for everyone.

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