The beginning of your career is an exciting but stressful time. As you begin to make choices that will lay the groundwork for the rest of your career and affect your future, you want to ensure you're making smart, informed decisions. Perhaps you've already narrowed down a list of companies you'd love to work for; perhaps you're torn between what type of company would best fit your needs and highlight your skills.
The allure of landing a job right out of college at the next big start-up in Silicon Valley can seem glamorous, but will it fulfill you or burn you out? Likewise, a job at a non-profit might align with your values and bring you job satisfaction; but will the salary?
Allow us to relieve some of the stress and break out the pros and cons of each kind of company below.
If you are considering working at a small company...
- Easier to access senior management, which equals more visibility.
- Your voice will be heard, and you will have more of an impact on the company's results.
- Generally, smaller companies have a close-knit, family feel.
- You will be able to be hands-on for harder-to-obtain projects, which provides exposure to different roles and responsibilities that can serve you well in your career.
- There is a unique level of transparency not often found in larger companies.
- You will receive greater recognition for your accomplishments and can have a say when the company is making major decisions.
- Lower pay due to less resources.
- You may handle a variety of responsibilities (a.k.a. heavier workload) as there are less employees.
- There are less office resources available and a smaller budget to work with.
- You usually have to handle more menial tasks than you might normally be responsible for.
- Again due to the lack of resources, there is less room for growth — even with a higher title, you may not advance your skills or role beyond a certain point.
- If the company is newer and less stable than a larger corporation, there's less job security.
If you want to work for a large corporation...
- There are lots of pathways and opportunities for growth, training and professional development.
- Large corporations have more structure and make it easy to know what is expected of employees.
- You are likely to enjoy great health benefits and access to a 401k, perhaps even a pension.
- Larger companies employ a more diverse pool of employees, which broadens your network considerably.
- You will likely have benefits and perks available such as working remotely, unlimited vacation and more.
- Simply put — a well-known corporation looks great on a resume.
- High expectations. While there are many benefits, you must perform well to earn them. This may include longer hours and more travel.
- There are more office politics and red tape, which can delay you in doing your job as quickly as you might like.
- It can be harder to be heard unless you're very extroverted and aggressive.
- You have many other employees to compete with in this arena, and it's much less personal.
If you want to work for a non-profit organization...
- Fulfilling work. Many employees that work in this sector do so solely for job satisfaction, as the organization they work for supports a cause close to their heart.
- You'll have the opportunity to employ real, lasting change.
- You get to work alongside other people with the same passion and similar goals.
- You can work in a variety of roles and utilize many different skill sets; there is always an opportunity to learn.
- Low pay and usually long hours.
- Increased bureaucracy — a lot of opinions must be taken into account before making decisions.
- The level of burnout is high; having a specific mission is heavy on a daily basis.
- Results can be more difficult to define, which adds to the weight mentioned above — it's harder to know if you're truly making a difference.
- The outcome has higher stakes, as it is emotionally rooted.
- Fundraising is a constant hustle; as this supports the entire organization; everything depends on it.
These pros and cons are not necessarily all-encompassing attributes of all small, large and non-profit companies, but can be used as a starting point for company research. For additional details and a better sense of company culture, conduct informational interviews with companies/contacts that you're interested in working for.
Karen Schneider is the founder of 30ThirstyAndTrying.com, a personal and professional development site for women offering advice on career, life, + love. She is a freelance writer and contributes to a number of career sites, including The Muse and Career Contessa, and has been featured on Fast Company, Inc., Business Insider, and Harvard Business Review.