College grads: at some point in the last year, you most likely asked yourself, “Does company size really matter?” Startups are sexy, risky, and give us millennials the autonomy we like, while the red tape, stale, and impersonal procedural optimism of a corporate bureaucracy simply gives you bad vibes. When it’s stated like that, I’m sure many of you are probably leaning toward the startup path.
I get it. It’s a tough decision, especially when the word “corporate” makes you shudder. But the benefit of our generation, according to LinkedIn, is that we “jump jobs four times in [our] first decade out of college.” If you’re willing to grin and bear it for a while, I believe the future benefits of starting big rather than small will prove to be far more valuable in achieving your career goals.
I’ve had the opportunity to have different sales roles at companies of all sizes: from high-growth startups to Fortune 100 companies. I believe there’s great value in having the experience of working at both large and small companies, but I’m convinced what will set you up for success is if you choose to start your career at a large company.
First and foremost, you’ll learn the importance of having access to a large network, and the effect relationships can have on your achievements. In a large organization, by definition, there’s a broader and deeper pool of people experienced in what they do. The importance of this is that there is a greater diversity of seasoned specialists, and much more of them. They will be able to answer the questions you’ll inevitably have as a new hire: how to find the bathroom, what needs attention and what doesn’t to get a job done, how to give and receive feedback, how to communicate effectively, and yes, they will even teach you the value of organizational duties. Even if they don’t offer you personal advice, watching how they operate will serve a similar educative purpose. By doing this, it will not only help you succeed, but will set levels of achievement for you to aspire to.
Experienced professionals aside, the opportunity to build a strong network among your peers will start on your first day. As an entry-level employee, a lot of times you’ll start in a “class” of individuals who are in the same role as you, and will therefore share a common bond. Because larger companies usually have the resources to offer more robust training opportunities, the demographic breakdown of employees becomes younger. What comes with that? A group of peers whose shared experiences, good or bad, can help you succeed.
Having a clear, defined structure, and a large support system of people (both peers and seasoned professionals) alike makes the transition into the “real world” (aka: a life with responsibilities) much less overwhelming. While you may think during your graduation ceremony that you are the next Mark Cuban, you have to remember everything does not revolve around your GPA, your alma mater, or what Greek house you were in. I’m sure you’ve heard these before, but there are two things as (or more) valuable: experience and who you know. You don’t know what you don’t know. And the best place to get that experience quickly is in a place where you’re surrounded by a lot of process and experienced people from who to cherry pick “best practices.”
I’m confident that if you move from a large organization to a startup in one of your four “job jumps,” the perspective, training, expertise, and experience gained from navigating corporate life will put you securely ahead of your co-workers, and get you to your career goals faster and more certainly.