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I am a college student graduating in June, and I was fortunate enough to sign a new grad software engineering full-time offer back in September with a medium-sized startup. That startup has now been acquired by a large corporation, and I have some calls scheduled with my hiring manager and recruiter to learn more about how this acquisition will affect me.

I was wondering what are some of the important questions to ask, red flags to look for, and overall how to best handle this situation? My main concern is that a lot of the factors I initially had for joining (financial upside, career growth trajectory, culture, etc.) are now up in the air, and I am not sure what's the best way to get accurate answers for these questions.

  • "My main concern is that a lot of the factors I initially had for joining (financial upside, career growth trajectory, culture, etc.) are now up in the air" How so? The last I can see, but the others not so much. – Acccumulation Jan 15 '20 at 23:28
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    My understanding is that by joining a high-growth startup you put yourself in a position to ride that upwards trajectory and have that spill over into compensation, job responsibilities, etc. Clearly this large corporation can't grow at a similar exponential rate as the startup, so my impression (which may be wrong) is that this reason may not apply any more. – Aakash Jan 16 '20 at 2:36
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    It might not apply quite as much, but whatever the start up would have expanded into, it will probably still expand into, just as a division within the company rather than a separate company. While that expansion may be supported by moving people into that division from the rest of the company, being part of a rapidly expanding division in a company still tends to result in a lot of advancement opportunity. – Acccumulation Jan 16 '20 at 4:49
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My main concern is that a lot of the factors I initially had for joining (financial upside, career growth trajectory, culture, etc.) are now up in the air, and I am not sure what's the best way to get accurate answers for these questions.

When you get to the meeting, and get chance to, just politely ask about those things.

Ask that you previously were told X, and wondered if it is still the same now things have changed. You can then decide if you still like the idea.

I was wondering what are some of the important questions to ask, red flags to look for, and overall how to best handle this situation?

Besides the ones that are your main concern, it could be a good idea to do some research on the company that bought the startup, so you can see if it is of your liking.

I would be aware of any big change on the previous terms you had, and see if it is still convenient to you.

I would also advise you update your resume and start job-searching again, just in case you don't like this offer anymore (or in the more extreme case the position were no longer available due to the acquisition).

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    You can't really ask how a culture will change. For the OP, "the factors I initially had for joining" were likely what they inferred, not what they were told. So they should ask about the things they made their inferences on, not the inferences themselves. Also, advice = consejo, advise = aconsejar – Acccumulation Jan 15 '20 at 23:35
  • @Acccumulation you are right, surely you can't ask that. But one can ask other things that are measurable by a direct question. (thanks for the spelling typo) – DarkCygnus Jan 16 '20 at 0:30
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    Well, one thing you can ask is if the current engineers are being offered retention packages. If they're not being offered anything to stay on after the purchase, that's not a good sign. – Stephan Branczyk Jan 16 '20 at 1:07
  • @StephanBranczyk good point on the retention packages – DarkCygnus Jan 16 '20 at 1:14
  • If I start job-searching again and find a new opportunity that excites me, I wouldn't be burning any bridges by reneging on my current offer and going somewhere else would I? – Aakash Jan 16 '20 at 2:49
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I am a college student graduating in June, and I was fortunate enough to sign a new grad software engineering full-time offer back in September with a medium-sized startup.

"fortunate" is not what I would call it. Now that the company is being acquired, that offer is not worth the paper it was written on. You need an actual written contract, not an offer. And considering the purchase, you'll want a carefully crafted contract because even a contract can easily be reneged on.

For now, restart your job search. You must proceed with your job search as if you don't have a job secured yet (because you really don't and you never actually did).

Then, talk to them. Tell them your concerns. If they make you any assurance, ask that those assurances be included in your contract. Those employees wanting to hire you could promise you the moon, but it doesn't really matter what they promise. Next month, they could all be replaced or moved to a new role or some could even have moved to the Bahamas with all the money they've made on the stock sold to the new company.

And finally, do some research on the acquiring company. What are they known for? What have they done in the past? Why are they buying it? To expand their capabilities and market share, or to cut costs, kill off the competition, and consolidate?

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    Is it even feasible for someone in my position to get an actual contract as opposed to the standard offer letter for at-will employment? – Aakash Jan 16 '20 at 2:44
  • @Aakash, Even with at-will contracts, having an actual starting date, an enumeration of all the benefits they'll give you, plus a "two weeks notice" clause, is not that uncommon. If I were you, I would ask for the employee handbook as well. By the way, will you need to move? Some companies even offer sign-up bonuses to newly hired graduates. But don't actually expect too much from a company in transition. If I were you, I'd work on getting other offers as well. Read haseebq.com/how-to-break-into-tech-job-hunting-and-interviews – Stephan Branczyk Jan 16 '20 at 3:03

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