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What type of organizational environment suits my needs?

Student Career Placement Consultant

Would you like to be a big fish in a small pond or vice versa? Your college experience may help you determine what makes you happy—if you went to a large university and were happy there, you may fit in well in a large corporation. But if you felt lost or had difficulty making friends in that situation, you might be better off with a smaller organization. Keep in mind that many of  the advantages and disadvantages will apply to nonprofit organizations and government agencies as well as to for-profit businesses.

As with the previous post about where you want to live, I’m going to suggest some questions to help you think about the type of organization where you may want to work.

  • How important are work relationships? It’s a simple fact that if the organization has fewer employees, there’s a greater chance that you’ll know everyone. When you know everyone, it’s more likely that you’ll be able to go to the most appropriate person for any given question or task. And you may develop closer relationships, both in and out of work. However, the down side is—what if you don’t really like some of the people you work with all that much? You may be able to stay more distant in a large corporation.
  • What kind of physical resources do you need? A large corporation is going to have not only more people but most likely will have more, and better,  physical resources. In a large corporation, you may have better computer equipment, more tech support, and opportunities for in-house training that are not feasible for a small company.
  • What kind of work experience do you want to gain? In a big company, you’re likely to specialize on one set of functions relevant to a particular job title. Your experience is going to be deep, but not broad. In a smaller organization, you may have opportunities to try out a lot of different functions, so you could have broader (but less deep) experience.
  • How important are opportunities for advancement? While you may have a chance to try your hand at different tasks in a small business, you may not have as many opportunities for advancement as you would in a large corporation. Also, many large corporations have facilities in multiple locations, so you have a better chance at moving to other cities—or countries—if you work for a large corporation.
  • What benefits are important to you? Big corporations may provide a better benefit package. However, a small company may provide more flexibility and put in more effort to accommodate your personal needs.
  • How important is job security? There are two ways to look at this issue. Large corporations may be less likely to fail, so you may feel that you have more security working there, especially if it’s a company that has been around a long time. However, when they DO need to make cuts, you could just be viewed as a number, not an individual, as you would be in a smaller organization.
  • How important is salary? While the actual salary you earn may not be different, a large corporation may have a regular, fixed schedule for incremental raises and/or bonuses. This is less likely in a small company. However, in a small company you may be noticed more quickly, especially if you work hard and make important contributions. These contributions can lead to monetary gains outside any type of formal raise structure.
  • Do you like to use your creativity? There may be more room for personal creativity in a small company that is open to new ideas. Often, a large corporation will have set procedures and policies that are difficult to change and may frustrate your desire to innovate.
  • Do you need to feel a strong sense of accomplishment? Let’s face it, in a large corporation you may end up feeling like a small cog in a very big wheel. If you’re working in a small company, where you are more likely to see the effect of your efforts, you may have a stronger feeling of accomplishment and contribution to the success of the organization.
  • What kind of organizational culture are you looking for? Culture may have more to do with longevity than size, although some aspects of culture are definitely related to size. If an organization has been around for a long time (let’s say 25 years), they will have a history that dictates how people behave, what they value, and how they interact both internally and externally. An older company may have developed dress codes, organized activities (think company softball league), and even internal resources to help employees make decisions about what products to buy and where to live. A younger organization is still developing its culture, and employees may have the opportunity to help create that culture.

Share your thoughts!