The Advantages of Getting Your First Job at a Small Company

By Roberto Angulo

Working for a small employer can have its advantages. It all depends on what you’re looking for in your job. Here are some of the perks that come with being part of a smaller team.

More freedom

This means having the flexibility to stray from your daily job routine and explore new tasks and projects. At a larger company, roles are typically well defined. For example, you may be hired as a software engineer to work on a certain feature for a specific product. Working on another product or feature may not be in the cards for you if there is already another person or group working on that other product. At a smaller company, however, where there aren’t as many engineers, you may be able to work on, let’s say, the Android version of your company’s mobile app, and then also tinker with the iOS version of the app.

At AfterCollege software engineers work in different programming languages depending on the project. In one instance, one of the software engineers wanted to learn more about machine learning and moved from programming to being one of our lead machine learning and data analytics engineers. The ability to try and learn new things, and to move to new areas as the need arises, is one of the pluses of working for a smaller employer for this person.

Less bureaucracy

Fewer people at an organization also means fewer layers of managers to get approvals and fewer people to check with in order to get things done. Let’s say you’re working in sales at a small company and you identify some new customer relationship management (CRM) software that can make your job and those of your colleagues easier. At a small organization, you may have a direct relationship to the head of sales or even the president of the company. If you present your case well enough, you may be able to get what you need fairly quickly. This could be days or weeks, compared to months, years, or never at a large company. Therefore, with less bureaucracy tends to come speed.

Larger impact

Being part of a smaller team also means you carry more weight on your shoulders, and your contributions are felt more throughout the organization. For example, if you’re part of a four-person sales team, your sales quota may account for a quarter of the organization’s revenue. Your ability to exceed sales goals will have a significant positive effect on the company. Whereas missing your sales goal can have an adverse effect on the company. In another instance, you could be one of a handful of software developers building the next great artificial intelligence–driven chat bot for a company. Your ability to work with a small team to build a great product and quickly take it to market can mean your company reaches profitability or gets its next round of venture funding. Having such a level of impact on an organization can be stressful for some people, but it can also be extremely rewarding.

More visibility

If you like being recognized and acknowledged for your work, a small company may be for you. This is because it’s harder to hide in an organization with fewer people. Your contributions carry more weight. And they’ll most likely be seen all the way up to the top, by the CEO of your company or the executive director of your nonprofit. So, if you’re looking to do good work and you want it to show, you’ll be able to do so more easily in a smaller setting.

Access to decision makers

Closely related to being more visible is having access to those making the decisions. Smaller organizations have fewer layers, which means you’re more likely to interact with the executives in the organization, including vice presidents, founders, and the CEO. These are people you can learn from!