We all face the big company- small company dilemma one time or other- whether we are a fresher on the first job hunt or a seasoned middle aged professional looking for a change.
There are no black or white comparisons of this one. This depends on the situation (how eager are you for that job), and on the kind of company (whether it full of lazy, undertalented people). Size comes later into the mix.
A big company will crush dreams of ambitious people who love what they do as easily as a small startup, if the people are lazy, incompetent and would like the status quo to remain in place.
There are bad jobs at startups and great jobs at big companies (and vice versa).
What also matters is the type of manager/boss you work for. It is more than how they treat you and help you do the job. It is also about how good they are themselves at their job (do they know the stuff?). This matters very much in the small startup. And how effective the managers are getting things done, vis-a-vis getting the resources for the team, dealing with bureaucracy, especially in large companies, where your manager has to go one on one with other managers.
If you are fresh and young, you may learn and practice all the varied stuff, working 10 hours/day and then move to a bigger company for the better pay and comfortable life your experience gets you. At least, that's the idea.
You want the best of both worlds: A job that brings good compensation and stability, while also giving you a chance to learn and grow. It also depends on what you want to achieve out of the next few years of your life. As usual, there will be both pros and cons in both the choices.
Benefits of working at small companies: Small companies give you a lot of opportunities, there is a lot to do, and one person may handle multiple responsibilities. Small software companies / startups indeed are good playgrounds for software developers willing to do interesting project (it helps if the main developers are good at your their job and are willing to share their secrets), compared to a big company where one person exists exists only to upload files and where there is tons of bureaucracy and paperwork.
Drawbacks of working at small companies: You don't know how well you are performing, or how good you are in your niche, there aren't people or situations enough to test yourself, it is huge different world out there. Many have truly pointed out that software startups are good to work at in year 1, when they have the funding and the enthusiasm level is high all around, but come year 2...this is when the exodus begins, which also puts more pressure on you.
Benefits of working at a big company: Lots of people from diverse fields, talented or otherwise- Many best practices have been standardized in the better companies- You get better at politics, to smile more at awful stuff (it isn't so in small companies)- Stability- Lots of perks (at some of the profitable companies)
Drawbacks of working at a big company: You are lost in a crowd- Hard to discover your self worth (you may try to valuable stuff but then face the red tape, politics, or that the bosses have changed their mind, etc)- You learn only on your initiative (company will mostly pay for training on some proprietory system)
Ultimately, no one can tell you the best choice.
Thank you for reading.
This guide is from The Success Manual, which contains 200+ guides to succeeding in business, career and personal life. Get the pdf ebook for $12 only.