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The Key Differences I’ve Learned from Working at Various-Sized Companies

Comparisons based on my experiences working at startups, mid-sized companies, and large corporation

I’ve had the privilege of being employed at quite a number of companies throughout my career — all of varying employee sizes. Though there have been both good experiences as well as bad ones, I can say for sure that each experience has been extremely meaningful, and I’ve learned quite a lot from every company I’ve worked at.

I’m refraining from blatantly sharing a list of those companies. Instead, I will share some of the key differences I’ve learned in terms of the pros and cons of working at a small company, a mid-size company and a large corporation.

1–50 Employees (Small Company)

Pros

  • Higher visibility with upper management
  • More opportunities for involvement in company growth
  • More opportunities for upward career growth
  • More freedom to customize and define your role

A small company with fewer people means that there’s a bigger spotlight on every single employee — including you. Having less people means a greater chance of being well-known and remembered amongst your colleagues.

It can be really exciting to be a part of a small company, especially in the early stages, where you can make a big splash and create the biggest impact. Being a part of a smaller company means that things can only expand from where they are, which can do a lot for your career in the long run. However, small companies also do come with their downsides.

Cons

  • People can get cliquey
  • Higher likelihood of wearing “many hats”
  • Lack of accessible resources
  • Less establishment in company culture
  • Less establishment in organizational structure

Although fewer people means a bigger spotlight on everyone, it could also mean more work for everyone involved. Less people means there will likely be less of an opportunity to delegate tasks and responsibilities. In contrast, if there was a higher headcount, things could be divided more efficiently amongst team members.

A smaller company also has to be the right fit for you. That means you need to a.) love the company and what it stands for 2.) have a strong relationship with every person you work with since there are fewer people to rely on.

A smaller company is likely to be less established in the market place, meaning lower funds for things such as resources you may need to do your job efficiently or the ability for expenses. And not everyone enjoys “working from the ground up”. So, make sure you’re ready to get your hands dirty when it comes to working at a smaller company.

500–1,000–5,000 Employees (Mid-size company)

Pros

  • Higher visibility with upper management
  • More opportunities for upward growth
  • Established organizational structure
  • Established company culture
  • More access to resources
  • Better perks/benefits

In my personal experience, a mid-size company truly has the best of both worlds when it comes to fulfilling the pros of both a small company and a large company — it’s a happy medium of the two. It’s not so small that you’ve met everyone there is to meet, but no too big that you get lost in the

You’ll likely still have visibility with upper management and have an easier path towards growth within the company. They’re likely to be more established in terms of structure, culture, and access to resources since there are more people to help build on these aspects.

Cons

  • Not a household name
  • You might feel like you’ve hit a ceiling

In all honesty, I can’t think of too many cons with being a mid-size company. Like I said earlier, it’s the best of both worlds. However, some people want to be in a bigger pool to swim — they might want to be part of a company that everyone knows or has heard of.

You might also feel like you’ve eventually hit a ceiling in terms of growth, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just means that you’ve built a foundation where you are in order for you to grow somewhere else… and that’s okay.

5,000- 10,000 Employees (Large company or corporation)

Pros

  • Well-established organizational structure
  • Well-established company culture
  • More access to a wide variety of resources
  • Better perks/benefits

I’ve worked at several large global corporations throughout my career, and I can say there are some distinguishable pros for working at a huge corporation. First off, because of its size and magnitude, it’s likely to already be well-established in its organizational structure, culture and is most certainly well-known within the public eye.

In a large company, you will likely know exactly what your role is, the reputation that the company has amongst the public, and most importantly, you’ll have a wealth of resources at your disposal since the company is already so established. This means access to resources, opportunities to meet new people in other departments of the company, and hopefully, all of the other perks that come with working at a company that everybody has heard of. However, that doesn’t mean everything is guaranteed to be a walk in the park.

Cons

  • Being “just another number”
  • Slower timeline for upward growth

The downsides of working at a large company means that it’s much easier to become another face in the crowd. More employees at a company means more chains of commands — and more hoops to jump through. This usually has a huge effect on the timeline of getting things done; things such as approvals on paperwork of actual actions, including promotions or changes.

The longer a company has been around, the longer it’s likely to be set in its ways. Be wary of that and be wary of the potential for being another worker bee in the hive.

Of course, the decision is ultimately up to you. You have to ask yourself, “What do I want out of a company” and “Where can I see myself being the most content?” and “What kind of environment do I want to be in?”. (These are just a few examples of many questions you might ask yourself).

And honestly, you might not even know the answers to these questions until you’ve actually been hired somewhere. So, try to answer them to the best of your ability, trust your gut, and try to adapt. Every experience can teach you a lesson, even if it wasn’t a good one.

I’m a big believer in “everything happens for a reason”, so try your best to get the most out of whatever comes your way.

This article originally appeared on Medium.com and was written by Lindsey (Lazarte) Carson. To see the original article, view here.

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