December 2nd, 2009
You probably don't know what to expect as you prepare to enter the real world, especially if you have little or no work experience. You can only determine what to expect based on your first impressions during the interview process and the information given to you by your interviewees. One detail you may have noticed is whether it was a large company or small business – the difference can determine your success and happiness.
If you get hired by a large company, expect a greater amount of resources that will help you perform your job to the best of your abilities. They have money – hence being large – so they’ll have top-of-the-line software and equipment to ensure that productivity remains strong. Even the less noticeable things, like office furniture, tend to be nicer. Depending on your job or field of work, you might have the luxury of using an expense account that covers your work-related purchases. Some companies will pay for additional education that will enable you to handle more responsibility. You might attend workshops and take courses related to your field, or you could be given the chance to earn an additional degree at a local university. Another potential advantage is the large number of qualified individuals with whom you work. Teams will undertake large projects, and if you get along with your teammates, the work environment can be fun. On the other hand if you don't, work can be miserable. The big companies for which you don't want to work tend to mistreat their employees – who remain faceless numbers to the higher-ups – and cut costs at every opportunity despite how much revenue they generate. Office politics can become disruptive, preventing you from performing your job to the best of your abilities.
Smaller companies generally lack the resources of large companies. You probably won't have an expense account and constantly updated software and equipment. Additional education will only come through hands-on work experience. Each employee is responsible for a variety of tasks; some of which are outside of your expertise. It takes a little more self-motivation and preparation. But your bosses will be more flexible as a result, giving you a chance to do things "your way." So dealing with the greater workloads won't be quite as difficult, and as a result, the work environment is less stressful. Typically small businesses have a group of close-knit employees who grow with the company. They care about the success of the company just as much as the owner. Regardless of where you work, the quality of the company is determined by the quality leadership; there are gems and duds in both large and small companies. But knowing the size can help you judge whether or not you'll be a good fit.