Thankfully, I didn’t have to decide between that many jobs! | Photo by Victoriano Izquierdo on Unsplash

How I Decided Between a Startup and Management Associate Position for My 1st Full-Time Job

And Some Strategies and Considerations for Those Faced with a Similar Decision

Jerald Lim
Jun 17, 2019 · 8 min read

Two Roads Diverged…

I recently had to make a decision between taking a management associate position at a large healthcare organization and a first-employee role in an early-stage tech social enterprise.

Heuristics & biases

Loss Aversion

The main heuristic at play here was obviously loss aversion, as I was focusing a lot on the things I was losing out on. While I do think this is helpful as it highlights the areas I would be negatively impacted by, it can also make the choice feel like a lose-lose situation.


I also realized I was potentially falling prey to an anchoring effect created by the management associate offer, which came first and made the starting salary of the startup offer seem lower than what I might have perceived it in isolation. This could have further triggered loss aversion, framing the startup choice as a loss of the salary difference.

Mere exposure effect & sunk cost fallacy

Lastly, I was cautious about how the the mere exposure effect and sunk cost fallacy could be impacting my decision. Because I was already working with the startup as part of a trial period, I had definitely come to develop some attachment to the people and the work and would weigh it more positively.

Making an informed choice

Now that I was aware of the heuristics that were likely underpinning my considerations, it was time to make a more informed choice based on more information.

Asking for advice

The first step was to talk to other people to get their advice and opinions. There were three groups of people whose brains I picked.

Putting it to a number

Imagining two futures

Freewrite for the startup role

Freewrite for the management associate role

The light at the end of the yellow wood

The final decision

Armed with all these insights, I decided to go ahead with the management associate position. Would I be as happy or happier if I had taken the startup role? Possibly. But now I can set my thinking cap down till the next fork in the road — or till I sit down at the breakfast table tomorrow.

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Jerald Lim

Written by

book-learnt ecotopian panpsychonaut

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

Jerald Lim

Written by

book-learnt ecotopian panpsychonaut

Live Your Life On Purpose

Get Purpose. Get Perspective. Get Passion.

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