I spent around 2.5 years (first job out of school) as a software engineer at a large company in a pretty separated robotics project. The job was really fun and engaging, but ultimately I left and even moved states because a) I felt my growth in the team had stagnated b) I always wanted to try working at a small robotics startup.
Around 5 months ago, I dropped everything and moved states to work at a 20 person startup that addressed an industry that I later discovered I don't have as much passion in. The leadership within the startup is actually some of the best and most knowledgeable I have seen, however I've been struggling to become involved with the product and break into the culture since everyone else had previously worked with one another and has very different interests outside of work. I also don't see myself being in the state I've moved to long-term or at this company long enough to see the project to an exit.
I am now considering going back to the same company I was originally at, on a different project and team. The TC is around 280K for the first year and it's a completely remote opportunity (per my request since I have realized I value the work/life flexibility with my hobbies) they are offering covered travel to visit the team, but also limited vacation days. Right now, the startup I work for has a TC of 220K where 60K was the valuation of the equity when I signed the offer several months ago, and the job is primarily in person with unlimited vacation that has been a significant change in lifestyle for me.
I am interested in working remotely in my future endeavors and I'm also interested in the project at the bigger company. However, I hestitate that going back to the large company is going to be bad for when I pursue other startups in the future or that 5 months isn't enough time at the startup with all the changes that have happened in my life. I also feel diengaged with my work currently and don't think I will grow as much as I had hoped since I've felt less involved.
I have interviewed at other places, only to get rejections. So at this point, I think my options are to go back to the company I worked at or wait a year before looking again. Is it bad to go back to a previous company? should I wait until a year is up at the startup before looking again? Is 5 months at a startup enough to evaluate whether you enjoy working there? Any advice that could make this decision would be appreciated!