For a couple of years, I worked in recruitment, where I helped students find internships at their dream company. What I found was the overwhelming majority of students want to work for BIG companies, for such-and-such a firm, a well-known brand, etc.
They wanted the prestige; the glitz and glam of being associated with a big shot organization. To be fair, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. It’s great to have big goals and big dreams.
In my first internship, I worked for a large financial services company — there were nearly 500 people in our office alone. Their offices were beautiful; sleek, modern, glossy — the picture perfect image of prestige and status. But, after all the initial hype died down, I realized (especially as an intern) I was just a number; just another intern floating through the organization, nameless to the vast majority of employees and virtually unknown to upper leadership.
You’re probably thinking this is completely normal as an intern and I’d say you’re half right. If you’ve got your sights set on a top-tier, big corporation the path towards upward mobility is surely a long and arduous one, and it starts at the very bottom. However, there are other options.
My second internship was at a small, start-up with just 6 team members. From day one, I was an integral part of the team — they needed me. I can’t explain how that felt, after being at a place where my presence was one which could easily be replaced and replicated, regardless of how talented or intelligent I was.
Within the first months of my new internship, I had very serious responsibilities with a big impact on the company; I had external connections with vendors and partners; I had close relationships with all my co-workers; and, perhaps biggest of all: I had direct access to our leadership team.
I learned more in the first few weeks at a small start-up than I did in 7 months at the other hot shot firm.
In short, here are 5 reasons I encourage you to consider working for smaller companies:
- Closer relationships with your team members.
- More room for creativity and trying new ideas.
- Greater responsibility and accountability for your actions.
- Direct (or closer) access to top management.
- Faster path to career advancements and upward mobility.
What I loved most about working for a small company is that everyday I felt like a person in the workplace, not just another face.
I urge you to keep an open mind and consider how spending a couple years at a smaller company can give you the experience and insight leading to bigger and better positions at your dream organization.