Behind the Scenes: Meet Vandana Agarwal

Vandana Agarwal

January 4, 2023

Deciding where you want to work after graduating from university is one of the most challenging and important parts of your life decision-making process. My dream of working with a multinational corporation (MNC) was fulfilled when I got an internship with one of the “Big 4” accounting/consulting firms in their audit department. I, like most of the people around me, wanted stability and to have an established company name on my resume.

Business Development Associate Vandana Agarwal delivers a presentation at her university.

With MNCs, your daily activities revolve around a specific job scope. Give it a year or two and you will be an expert in the matter. However, there is not much chance for growth in skills beyond your assigned scope. For the initial years, the work is not awesome; it tends to be repetitive and it’s less about making creative decisions and more about implementing what has already been decided for you.

Being only 23 years old with few responsibilities, I felt it was too early on for me to play it safe and stick to a specific job profile for the rest of my life. Therefore, I decided to pursue a
master’s degree to broaden my skill set and gain more exposure. While chatting with my friends about their summer plans, I met a guy who talked about a start-up and their vision. He gave me a contact in the company, and I reached out to him to see if they were hiring interns for the summer.

I got a job offer to join the Photon team and thus started my journey with a start-up. I was brought in as one of three interns to work on business development. I was wearing
multiple hats: doing market research, bringing in new clients, communicating our vision to multiple stakeholders and seeking opportunities to grow our business. I was exposed to many aspects of a business with which I was unfamiliar. The majority of my work with Photon has been outside my areas of expertise and my approach was to put myself out there and communicate to the Photon team the challenges I am facing and to receive coaching.

Every day is a new day, things change very fast, you will be learning, unlearning, relearning and solving a new business challenge every day. Adaptability in this ever-changing environment is key to your success.

The main satisfaction I felt was when I saw the results of my labour in real time in terms of networking and NDAs being signed. If I did a great job, everyone from the CEO to my colleagues would praise me for my work and the value I created for the company. This is the major difference between working at an MNC versus at a start-up. At the MNC, even though I would create some value, my work often went unnoticed, I think because I was at an entry-level position. The impact of my work was much greater at the start-up.

My key take-away from my experiences would be there are pros and cons to both working with a start-up and working with an MNC. But if you are an adventure seeker and willing to take some risks, then you should definitely try working for start-ups as you work directly with the innovators and the creators of the company and are involved in the whole business process. Thus, the learnings are immense.