A while back I wrote about why working for a small PR firm is good for your career.
While I haven’t changed my mind, I want to talk to you about the other side—working for a big company.
You see, I believe, to see the big picture, truly understand, and find what you want to do in life, you have to have worked on both sides.
It’s so easy to take for granted what others say, but nothing can replace your own personal experience.
So, today we’ll look at why you should work for a big company in your 20s.
Get ready to be challenged.
I’ll start with the less likely reason you would expect—office politics.
Where is the fun in that, you ask?
While I don’t agree with office politics and are, in my opinion, a waste of time, productivity, and motivation for you and your team, they are a reality in any big company and sometimes in small businesses, too.
But, here is the trick: Learning to navigate office politics in a big company better prepares you for your future roles.
You will learn to understand body language, silence, a straight face, or not so straight face.
Learning how to read people and anticipating the results of a business meeting are valuable experiences.
You will learn to negotiate to get what you want whether it’s a new position, a new project, or bringing more people to your team.
Office politics are time consuming and energy draining, but they hold important life lessons that will help you later in life.
Access to Big Accounts
While you may not be directly involved in the big accounts, you will have the chance to learn how to deal with large clients.
You will learn how to create budgets, how to communicate, and how to build meaningful relationships.
You will also learn (hopefully not the hard way), the don’ts in a relationship with a big client.
But most importantly you will learn how to offer support for the client, while keeping them on budget.
Not an easy task.
Just to be clear, the above is valid only if you have an innate curiosity and want to learn.
No one will babysit you or help you learn.
It’s up to you!
No One Has Your Back
This may sound a bit dramatic, but it’s true.
In a small business there is a family feeling where everyone works toward the same goal.
In a big company, however, things are very different.
When working for a big company, you’ll see what a very competitive environment looks like (not necessarily in a healthy or productive way).
The best way to describe it is a jungle where everyone wants what you have or what you want and are willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
You have to learn to watch your back.
In time, you see those who seemed friends or friendly in the beginning, had a hidden agenda.
You will learn to read people.
See reason number one.
Learn a Ton
Working for a big company will help you learn a ton about managing projects, customer service, managing people, and more.
Note I did not mention anything related to your actual job.
The trick is to know when to change departments to allow you to grow.
Staying in the same job won’t necessarily bring you the experience you seek.
But being curious, building internal relationships with department heads, learning what they do and how you can help, will help become you more experienced than someone working for 10 years in the same job, at the same big company.
Working for a Big Company is Invaluable
Working for a big company is pretty tough.
You need to be in the moment, you need to understand office dynamics and anticipate changes.
Pay attention to what’s happening around you, beyond your daily job.
Make yourself available and helpful to be invited to closed door conversations.
It’s not easy and it takes a lot of work, but if you build the right relationships, your work will not go unnoticed.
Working for a big company will better prepare you for life in general, but especially for what you want to do in your career.
It’s the “necessary evil” to help you become better at your craft, learn people skills, and have a clear vision and goal.
What would you add to the list above?