As one of the Internship Hub managers I have had the opportunity to work with a range of big and small organisations over the years. Not only do I get to visit them in their work environment but I also get lots of insightful feedback from our students about their experiences.
When applying for an internship or job, you might have to consider lots of factors. There are the obvious ones like will it be a good career move? Will there be the opportunity to progress? Will I be paid well? Of course these things are important but you should also consider your own values and what motivates and matters to you when applying for roles. It’s easy to be swayed by the big, well-known companies but do these companies match what you are looking for?
Before you start looking for an internship or job take time to think about what really matters to you. Make a list of your core values and try to prioritise these and also think about how to work towards these. You might be surprised to find that smaller companies can offer more of what will make you happy.
Here are my top 5 points to consider:
1. Career progression
A larger organisation is likely to offer a more structured career path with more options for training and a clearly defined route of progression. This type of environment could be suited to those who want to have a clear idea of how progression works within an organisation. There could however be more competition for promotions when these arise. Having a big name on your CV could allow your career to progress at a faster rate within your chosen industry.
Working within a smaller organisation might not offer a structured career path and training is likely to be on the job. Routes for progression are not always clearly defined but if you join a fast-growing start-up you could find yourself being promoted early on. By taking responsibility and getting involved in all aspects of the business you are likely to get yourself noticed and promoted.
2. Benefits package
Is money your key motivator? A larger organisation is likely to offer a higher salary and other benefits like free healthcare and a company pension.
Smaller organisations will rarely be able to compete with large organisations when it comes to salary but they often provide a more relaxed working culture and a better work/life balance and other perks like free lunches, gym membership, or the company of an office pet!
In a larger organisation, the efforts you put in might not have an immediate impact because they are part of a much bigger picture. This is fine if you are happy to contribute to an organisation’s overall goals but you don’t need to feel recognised for your individual contribution.
In a smaller organisation your contribution will more obviously directly impact on the success of the business and as such you are more likely to feel valued. In a smaller organisation there is nowhere to hide as everyone must pull their weight and this creates a strong sense of team spirit with your colleagues. Everyone is responsible for driving the business forward and sharing in the success of the business which can be extremely motivating.
4. The work environment
Working in a large organisation might mean you have to navigate your way through a lot of bureaucracy to get projects moving. This can be frustrating and might not suit your personality or style of working.
Some larger organisations might expect longer working hours and more traditional working patterns. This might not match your values if you enjoy the flexibility of working in different environments.
A smaller organisation is likely to have less bureaucracy and the pace of progress tends to be faster. Many smaller organisations can allow greater flexibility to staff and you can decide how and when you want to work as long as the work gets done.
5. Variety is the spice of life
In a larger organisation you might have to change jobs in the organisation to get the variety you crave and to develop your skills. Moving around will also give you a greater awareness of the organisation as a whole.
In a smaller organisation you will often get the variety you need without changing jobs. Juggling lots of different tasks in your own job will develop your multitasking skills and you will gain a breadth of experience and really understand how every aspect of the business operates. On a daily basis you will get the chance to work with all levels of seniority within the business due to a flatter management structure and the director is visible, not hidden behind a door.
Once you have identified what matters to you, try to find as many opportunities as you can in different work environments of varying sizes to make sure that the decisions you make are right ones for you!
One of our top tips for application success is always doing your research and regardless of the size of an organisation you should be able to find some useful insights into their work culture and values via their website, social media or reaching out informally via LinkedIn or the Network.