Big vs Small Companies: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Posted by GradConnection

It’s an age-old debate, but one that you’ll probably have when trying to decide where you’d like to go for your first role after graduation – the big or small company? Many often default to the former, but there’s many pros and cons to consider when trying to find the right environment to suit your personality and working style. 

Big Companies 

Pro: More Resources 

It’s no secret that often the bigger the company, generally the more budget there is to spend on resources. Not only are higher salaries, bonuses and extra perks on the table, but also access to things like newer equipment, training and workshops that could be pivotal to helping you build a solid foundation in the early stages of your career. 

Pro: Structure and Stability 

Larger companies often have established systems in place, which some grads may find comforting. For example, structured development programs, buddy-mentor systems, as well as simple, clear-cut procedures and policies can all play a part in making your transition to full-time work just that little bit easier. The company's large structure also often means more potential for you to expand into different departments and niches within the business down the line. 

Pro: Big Name Reputation 

The allure of a big-name company rarely fails to attract – and perhaps for good reason. A high-profile company and well-connected colleagues will undoubtedly allow you to network with a wider range of people both internally and externally. You’ll have arguably more exposure with clients, stakeholders and business leaders. 

Con: Jumping through Hoops 

With structure and systems also comes the double-edged sword of bureaucracy and red tape. Having that safety net often means that in turn, some processes end up taking much longer than anticipated. Things that seem small may require higher approval in a seemingly endless loop of jumping through hoops up the ladder. 

Con: Lost in the Crowd 

While larger teams and the subsequent exposure brings many advantages, this can also be an overwhelming environment for some. You could end up getting lost in the sea of many and struggle to find a way to stand out, especially as a fresh grad!  

Small Companies 

Pro: Creative Freedom 

Perhaps one of the best aspects about working at a small company is the creative freedom offered by having no or minimal upper hierarchy. You’re often given the liberty to experiment and try out new ideas, which proves for an incredibly fun and rewarding experience as a grad. Plus, it’s incredibly satisfying to see your innovative concept or action have a direct impact on the company! 

Pro: Many Different Hats 

In a smaller company, you’ll can probably expect to be given tasks that might not explicitly be aligned with what was written in your job description. Particularly with start-ups, you’re expected to wear lots of different hats and pitch in to help the team when resources are sparse. As a grad, this might seem daunting, but is also a greatly rewarding experience in learning how to truly be an agile worker, and an exciting challenge for those who are up for it! Take advantage of this opportunity to see the ins and outs of the company, how things are processed from start to finish and probe for questions in any areas that you want to know more about. 

Pro: Being Seen 

Naturally, the smaller the company, the easier it is to get to know everybody. You can often find yourself in a team that has more of a community or family feel. This means it’s also easier for you to stand out and not only be supported in, but recognised for your work as a newbie, especially when you’re being given more responsibility in creative projects! And while it might seem like the big companies have the upper hand when it comes to the number of opportunities, smaller companies are more likely to progress you further and faster up the ladder if you excel in your role. 

Con: Less Structure and Stability 

As fun as taking on different tasks can be, this can also be viewed as a con - a smaller company might not have the tools and time to give you structured training, while having the expectation that you can adapt yourself to multiple areas of the team. This can prove quite challenge for a fresh grad, particularly if your learning style doesn’t suit being thrown into the deep end. 

Con: Fewer Opportunities

It’s true that you might not get the same exposure or networking within a smaller company itself, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t make this happen through clients or external industry events. The same goes when speaking specifically about advancement opportunities – while the company might not have the resources to take you on in a bigger capacity, the skills that you do learn could be instrumental in propelling you to future roles and opportunities beyond the company itself. 

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Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer! It’s up to you to consider what you want out of a working environment. What do you think will best suit your needs, personality and career aspirations?  

See a diverse range of companies with open grad opportunities on offer now!


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