The Big World of Small Business for Graduates
Through these last four years of college, it may feel like you’ve done it all - you’ve woken up for blisteringly early 8ams, slept in more mornings than you’d like to admit, been accepted into your first internship, made more than a few coffee runs, studied to ace your final exams, and maybe even got less sleep in the last four years of college than you did in middle and high school combined during the process. Yet, you made it through everything - the excitement, the tears, the late nights, and now you are walking down the stage with your diploma.
And then it hits you; you’re in the real world now, and you know what that means: time to get a job.
As somebody who has had more than their fair share of internship experiences in college, I can honestly admit that it still hadn’t fully prepared me for the real world of job hunting. There were so many possibilities for work post-grad that I simply hadn’t thought about. Small company? Big company? Independent contracting? Ditching this whole career thing altogether to become a Lady Gaga impersonator for tween-age birthday parties? (Still not a terrible option, but I’m all set for now)
After dodging my fair share of overly opportunistic headhunters and wage-slave startups, I finally settled on the most equitable-sounding business proposition I could find: a small company (this one, obviously).
Why on Earth would a post-grad choose a small organization over a cushy, established opportunity at the mega-corporation for a first job? Plenty of reasons. Let’s begin with:
- Finding Your Specialty
At a small company, you will get the amazingly indispensable opportunity to not just work within a certain department, but to work across all of them.
For a career path such as marketing, there are at least six different career paths under a single umbrella, with more developing by the month. Which bucket you ultimately land in is more often about which company department selects you over which skills you truly wish to hone.
I’d liken it to visiting a restaurant and being served by the waiter whichever meal the manager believes you’d like the most. Of course, in this scenario, you might likely smile, sign the receipt, leave, and leave a one-star rating on their Yelp. While sometimes this does work out for the better, small businesses are like the Pu Pu Platter of the business world for recent grads; try it all, see what you like and go for seconds.
- Spreading Your Wings
Meaning, you can have your credentials but actually experience them too. From personal experience, this is most often the downside to a large company. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve heard friends groan about feeling lost in the shuffle at a large company.
While for some individuals a structured organization may just be how they work best, for others it can simply be too constraining. The chain of command is often too long, and entrepreneurs hailing from big corporations often try their darndest to break out the supersize pliers in their own organizations.
With a small company, your work may be more self-directed and much less siloed than in a larger organization. You may be assigned deadlines with only your personal initiative to fulfill them. Once you learn the ropes of the organization, there is incentive to find ways to exceed expectations, something that will be noticed at a smaller organizations. This brings me to my final point.
- Remembering You’re Human
At a small organization, you can be, well, you. You will never be a cog crunching numbers to push the financial ticker up. For your boss and coworkers who you will see every day, you will have a place in their mind as their colleague who is of key importance in keeping the organization rowing forward.
For you as a graduate, this one-on-one attention may be what you need to find your passion and truly get your career moving out of the gate. You may even find a mentor within your organization that is willing to personally work with you to land the position you’ve been desiring since that diploma landed in your hands.
Everyone has a different idea of the path that is right for them. For me, it turned out to be a small business where I can hone all of my skills, really spread my wings, and be part of a close-knit culture.
I wish you the best of luck in finding the type of environment that's right for you!