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What Size Company Should You Join For Your First Job?

Your first job out of business school is on the horizon. Do you want to work for a big company or a smaller one? Size matters. Let's take a closer look at some questions to ask yourself as you embark on your first job search.

Sep 12, 2023
  • Education
  • Student Tips
Size Matters: What Size Company Should You Join For Your First Job?

We often think bigger is better. When it comes to your first job out of business school, you might be surprised to learn that this isn’t always the case. Let’s take a look at some questions to ask before you take that first job.

1. How secure do you want to be?

A bigger company may be more secure for you, but not always. Larger companies are usually financially secure, often have clearer hierarchies and more people to work with, but possibly fewer opportunities for rapid growth.

Although smaller companies are often less financially secure than their larger counterparts, you’ll have more responsibility and more opportunities to work in different parts of the organization. The trade off? The roles are usually less defined. The silver lining in working for a smaller company is that you’ll have more opportunity to shine. In a larger company, you may get easily overlooked, especially if you’re working with other top-notch graduates like yourself.

MBA students need to figure out where your skills are, what you want to work on, and the amount of professional risk you’re willing to take on, especially right out of the gates.

2. What kind of responsibilities do you want?

Do you want a lot all at once, or do you want to work your way up? If you want to take on lots of responsibilities in your first job and apply a wide range of knowledge, consider a smaller company, where you’ll have leeway to do more quicker.

If you’d like to focus your responsibilities in a just one or two areas to start, look at a bigger company. You’ll have specific tasks to do within the company. As you improve your skills, you’ll move up the ladder, but maybe not as fast as you would at someplace smaller.

3. What skills do you want to develop in your first job?

MBAs in Business nurture skills which can be maximised in all sizes of companies. In a small company, you’ll work on lots of skills simultaneously, but in a big company, you’ll have the chance to hone those specific set of skills further.

If you know you want to apply your business writing and analytical skills to your first job, find a larger firm looking for a business writer, and take it from there. If you decide to work for a smaller company, you can still focus on those skills, but know that you’ll be asked to use your other business skills, like strategy and planning at the same time.

4. What kind of benefits do you want?

The answer to this question will help you make your decision.

Generally, the bigger the company, the bigger the benefits package. You can also receive private health care, pensions, or matching retirement contributions, childcare, and corporate discounts.

That’s not to say a smaller company won’t have these things—they might. But if you know that you need access to affordable childcare right out of school, working for a company that doesn’t have it might not be the best option.

Either way you go, before you sign any contract, make sure you’re clear on the benefits the company offers and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

5. Do you want to move around?

A larger company with multiple locations and sectors is the way to go, especially if you know that you want to work for this company for awhile. Another perk of working for a larger company with other offices? If you want to switch the kind of work you’re doing, but stick with the company—and you’ve proven yourself an intelligent and reliable worker—you’re likely to get that transfer that you request.

6. Are you looking for a flexible job?

If you enjoy clearly defined roles and expectations, working in one department, for one person, with a linear career path, then a larger company is for you. At a larger company, all of those structures are in place. You’ll appreciate knowing what’s coming and when.

If you want to wear different hats, feel frustrated by too many company rules, and don’t like hearing that someone can’t help you because it’s not their job, then go for a smaller company. You’ll appreciate the flexible working space and working relationships, while still having the opportunity to grow.

Remember: It’s all about balance, what you’re ready for, and how you want to start. There’s no right or wrong answer—do what works for you.

Learn more about earning your MBA.