Almost all software engineers face this dilemma at some point to the other in their career path – should I work for a small company or a large one?
Along with the size of the organization, you should look at the potential of the job itself. Working in a large organization means little if you’ve stagnated and if your vision cannot see the light of day because of bureaucratic processes.
There’s a subtle difference in having a job and building a career. You can do a job anywhere. You need to find the right place to build a career and demonstrate how you bring value to the table. It can be quite surprising to see how much you can accomplish when you work with a small organization.
But how do you know if you are a small company pro who’s stuck in a large company?
The need for visibility
Getting lost like a faceless drone is the reality of a large organization. It can be hard to get into the eye line of the right people – people who will help and augment your career path.
A small company alleviates these challenges. Visibility is high, and this means more opportunities for recognition of your contribution at work. It is also easier to highlight initiatives, display hard work, and talent. It is much easier to shine and get recognized in your area of expertise. There is also a greater room for advancement because smaller companies are more dynamic in nature and are on a continuous growth phase. With good work, coupled with great visibility, moving up the corporate ladder becomes a more agile process.
Collaboration and learning opportunities
Working in a large organization has its set of benefits – think structured environments and highly specialized roles. However, these very benefits can become impediments to learning and growth because of their structured nature. Reshuffling roles can be a highly bureaucratic process, and you can find yourself doing the same work for eternity.
In a smaller organization, there is greater opportunity to work on a wider variety of assignments. Because tasks are not highly specialized, you are not confined to only one aspect of the work. Smaller organizations also work in a collaborative manner. One individual can wear many hats and leverage the learning opportunity that comes with working with a small team of talented co-workers and from different projects.
Such environments give you the opportunity to be an integral part of a project – from inception to completion. They also give you a hands-on and deep understanding of internal and external processes, help you develop new skills, and learn from colleagues who are experts in their areas completely unfamiliar to you.
The ‘Impact’ appeal
While there’s an opportunity to do good work in both large and small organizations, it is a small company that helps you feel the power of impact.
Working in a small organization presents many opportunities that you can leverage to directly impact the future of the company. It could be in new technology or a business process that needs tweaking or a trend that you feel the organization could leverage.
It is more likely that the key decision-makers are more available and open to ideas. This gives you a platform to express your opinions and demonstrate how and why these ideas will contribute to the organization’s growth story. Individual contributions and ideas (irrespective of their scale) matter significantly more in a small organization.
The need for wider exposure
Given the structure of a smaller organization individuals working here get exposed to a wider variety of job functions. Everyone wears more than one hat – from the new developer to the CEO of the company. Everyone is at the ground level working and getting their hands dirty and in the process, learning new things almost every single day. With exposure to a wider variety of functions becomes more conducive to career growth as you are not only working on a variety of assignments but also on a variety of functions within that role. With a broader perspective of the business, it becomes easier to draw up your career path and reach your career goals.
At the end of the day, you need to evaluate what matters most to you – a job or a career. If you want the latter, there is no better place than a small organization. Apart from the money (which will usually be good as you’re more likely to be critical to a project), you will be rewarded with meaningful and challenging work and an opportunity to contribute directly to the growth of an organization.