January 28, 2022

At Work Size Does Matter by Jaclyn Schiff

Jaclyn Schiff (One of the contibutors to Employee Evolution) has opened The Schiff Report.  She has an interesting post today about an employee’s first career steps and the potential benefits of going small vs. large:

“My hunch is that during the first few years of your career, smaller companies could allow you to be a lot more hands-on from the start … On the other hand, the opportunities at a large company can really enhance your professional development, even if your job responsibilities initially do not.”

I see both sides of this perspective, and have lived both.   I started out at age 22 working for a large healthcare corporation and realized 18 months into my career that I was not happy in the least (I was just not cut out for a career in health care…I just don’t think it suited my personality).  But… I would have never known that had I not put myself into that environment for 18 months.    I struck out on my own at age 23, formed a consulting company, and I have not returned to the corporate world since.   Now, sitting here, 25 years later, when I do have to submit a resume for a consulting gig, my potential clients only want to know about what I have achieved in the last five years.   The corporate job from 1982 never comes up.  It’s as if it never happened…but it did something amazing…it pointed me in the direction of my current career, which is truly a dream career for me.

If you are reading this blog and wondering what to do about your career, I encourage you to check out the young leaders we have spoken with over the last 18 months.   You can read about them here and here.  Many have worked for large companies, many are solo biz owners (or in partnerships) or have done both the big corporate approach and the small biz approach.  I am a firm believer in talking with at least 20 people to find out the benefits and the negatives of both and then choosing a career path that provides you the opportunity to grow and develop your talents (even the worst jobs and business failures teach us so much).  One of the benefits of working with a large company is not just getting connected to the strong brand but allowing some of your hidden talents to come to the surface (maybe you are a great writer or a great communicator, and these strengths come out in your first job).  With a large company, you also have the benefit of being able to build a strong network with super sharp people who can become a part of your support system down the road (I am still in touch with many of my colleagues from my first healthcare career).  Look at not only the company and the job but the secondary (often not so obvious) benefits.  And, as I have always said, sometimes we are asked to step into roles that may not be what we love doing but which help to build mental and emotional strength.  Every step we make leads to the next, leads to the next..

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