General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2181013

    Working for a Small business- am I missing out?


    by camis05 ·

    I’m a recent graduate and am working for a small business – I am the IT dept. My daily tasks are combination of Level 1 Helpdesk and report generation for management. I’m also responsible for introducting new technology to the company. I’m concerned that because I’m working with a small company that I’m missing out on huge learnings in an enterprise environment. My main concern is when I’m looking for another job that my skills won’t meet the standard skillset of an IT worker. Any thoughts on how to make sure I stay competitive IT worker?

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3264361

      Job focus

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      The bigger the company, the more specialize you usually are. Working for a smaller company will generally expose you to a wider variety of tasks because of the lack of specialization.

      You will also find while you generally won’t make as much money, your job satisfaction will be much higher in the smaller company.

      As for future marketablitiy. Decide what you WANT to do, and talk to your boss about including that into what you do. Ask about training, and read up on that topic regularly.

      The day you stop learning, is the day you start becoming less competitive.

      good luck.

      Remember, being happy with your life is better than having a fat paycheck. Life is too short to every day wake up and have to go to “that place”. That is where you see a lot of the burnout in this field.

      • #3287642


        by msg2612 ·

        In reply to Job focus

        I couldn’t have said this better, myself.

        I also work for a small company. I’ve been here for 6 years. Luckily, they’ve been really good about giving me free reign with projects and after the first couple of years, trusted me well enough to let me work freely and pretty much gave me the go ahead on any projects I wanted to start. It’s fantastic, and I really do get a lot of satisfaction, though sometimes work my butt off since I’m the only one.

        BUT, if you are in this position, then you will not have a mentor to teach you things and the ins and out, so you will struggle in some respects. I suggest finding an IT Pros group in your area or calling up the IT people in other companies or groups you work with and meet to talk shop from time to time.

        • #3287634

          PKN – Professional Knowledge Networks…

          by matthew moran ·

          In reply to exactly…

          Great advice. I refer to this as your Professional Knowledge Network. Working for smaller enterprise has amazing benefits but you can suffer isolation and a more limited exposure to new ideas and technologies.

          A PKN can be local – which is nice – or can be built through sites like TechRepublic. Find those people who have similar drive, ambition, and interest – some overlapping skills but also some diverse skills.

          I have a select few people in my chat software. Most are part of my professional knowledge network. We try to stay focused – which is to say – there could be weeks without a direct chat session every started. It isn’t, “whats up dude.” The self-imposed rules are for those technical questions you have done cursory resarch on or that you know are in line with what an associate is very familiar with.

          And it is not – do this for me – but what resources do you know of or can you point me in the right direction.

          Matthew Moran

    • #3264354

      It’s a good place to start

      by smorty71 ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I think that you are in a situation that might allow you to try a lot of different things without much risk.

      Often, once you make the jump to a larger company, your responsibilities will narrow but you will be expected to know more about your particular specialty.

      Starting at a small company where you ARE the IT dept allows you to see where (or if) you want to specialize while building your skills.

      • #3264316


        by amcol ·

        In reply to It’s a good place to start

        The risk factor is lower in that a mistake will have less of an effect at a small company than at a large one, but it’s higher from a career misstep perspective. Not to mention, the dollar value of a mistake at a small company may be substantially less but the effect on the organization as a whole can be quite a bit higher. In addition, it’s a LOT harder to hide mistakes at a small outfit.

        The biggest problem a recent college grad has in a small organization where he/she is a department of one is that he/she is getting no direction whatsoever. How do you know if what you’re doing is right? Or the best way? Or is resulting in a transferable, marketable skill? Or if you’re getting compensated fairly? You have no baseline to measure against.

        That’s not to say it’s a bad move to join a small organization right out of school, but if this were my kid I’d advise getting out after no more than a year…no matter what.

        • #3264290

          Hold your bunnies!

          by dr dij ·

          In reply to Nah

          I think you’d be looked at as a job-hopper if you leave after a year for no serious reason.

          two or three years min. unless, as in any job it becomes intolerable.

        • #3285672


          by amcol ·

          In reply to Hold your bunnies!

          Your first job out of college is supposed to be short term. Especially under this set of circumstances, working for a small company, it’s understandable…you went as far as you could go and learned as much as you could in an organization of very limited means, and you therefore moved on.

          One year on the job would be cause for concern if it was a pattern of behavior. Three or four jobs in a row, one year each, and you’ve established a track record that needs to be explained. Other than that, no worries.

        • #3285626


          by camis05 ·

          In reply to Nah

          Thanks for your response. I agree a 100% with what you say in terms of direction, especially knowing if my skills are transferable/marketable.

          However, the issue is that I’m in a contract for a couple years. My employer is flexible on implementing projects I suggest. What I’m having a hard time with is finding a base and advancing in it. I know that when I jump to a bigger company I won’t have specialized skills, “Jack of all trades, master of none”.

          Any suggestions? (background is in B.S. MIS)

        • #3286597

          Don’t worry, be happy

          by amcol ·

          In reply to agree

          Under the circumstances you’re in good shape. You’re young, employed, and healthy. You’re under contract and making progress. Life’s a beach.

          You’re right out of school, which makes you about 22 (unless you took time out for military service or some other detour). You’re one year into a career that’ll last 40-50 more years. Keep doing what you’re doing, planning for the future and actively managing your career, but don’t be too impatient about it.

          You can’t make a move for another year, so use this time to learn what you can and improve your skills in as broad based a way as you possibly can. Like others have said, you can take advantage of your opportunity to figure out what you want to do next. Notice I said “next” and not “what you want to do for a living”. Plans are fine as long as they’re not too long term and as long as you maintain flexibility. In a 35 year career I’ve had 147 five year plans, and every single one of them was brilliant. Keep your eyes open, don’t get ahead of or too full of yourself, soak up knowledge and experience from everyone and anyone you can, and parlay this gig into something really outstanding.

          Think about avoiding being or staying too technical. The future’s not in bits and bytes, it’s in understanding how to wring business and strategic value out of technology.

        • #3103548

          Big Picture

          by klaverty ·

          In reply to Don’t worry, be happy

          Working in a small company where You are the IT Department is a great experience. You get to check out different technologies. If you are starting out in your career, your manager should not expect you to be an expert in everything but it gives you the opportunity to find the area you might want to specialize in.

          On the other hand working in a large company where you are 1 of maybe 50 people in the IT department, you are more than likely specializing in one particluar area of expertise.
          You’ll also find that with larger companies you are more tightly bound by management processes. Security delegation ensures everybody in the IT department has just enough permissions to carry out their job and you will often require the help of other IT teams to accomplish what you could have done on your own in a small company.

          This is not necessarily a bad thing as it teaches you how to effectively accomplish tasks by streamlining processes & sharing the workload.

          In my opinion, working in a small company gives you the opportunity to increase your technical skills and working in a larger company will help you develop your management skills.

          It is a good idea to develop your technical skills before moving into the management arena. Personally, I would not ask someone to do something that I wasn’t willing to, or not sure how to, do myself. (This might sound old school and I am waiting for the flack) If you have developed a good grounding in the technical expertise then later on you will find it a lot more comfortable to delegate the same task to a subordinate, as you should have a good idea of their ability to carry out the task.

          Spend some time working in both small and large companies and also companies who themselves specialise in different industries, from service & support industries to manufacturing or research.

          In my experience, most IT graduates start out working in support, then some move to development. After a few years some of them move in to management roles. It all depends on their abilities & of course their interests. There are lot of different career paths for an IT graduate to follow and it all boils down to the experience they get from the organizations they choose to work for in the first 3-7 years after graduating.

          Enjoy the early years and soak up as much knowledge as you can, both Technical & Managerial.

        • #3103494


          by amcol ·

          In reply to Big Picture

          You get just as much opportunity in larger organizations to “check out different technologies”. The difference is that in a larger company you typically do so for legitimate business reasons…prototypes and evaluations, cross-training, bench strength development, things of that nature. In a smaller company, with no oversight and no direction, you’re more likely to bring in something new simply because it’s new and cool. That may be educational, it may be fun, but is it really in the best interest of the organization? In a larger company, with (hopefully) the benefit of wise gray haired management, you can learn new technology along with the business components of what you’re doing. A much more well-rounded educational experience, IMHO.

          That’s not to say the small company experience doesn’t have its advantages as well. You may be more likely to learn self-reliance and better develop independent thinking patterns. Depends what you want out of your career.

          You’re off base in saying that as a manager you wouldn’t “ask someone to do something that I wasn’t willing to, or not sure how to, do myself”. That’s not management, that’s supervision, and very low level at that. The days when a manager was expected to know how to do all aspects of every job in his/her department are long gone. It’s actually a rather profound disadvantage to manage in this fashion…you pay short shrift to the strategic and leadership components of your job. The essence of good management is quite simple…surround yourself with high quality professionals, then get the hell out of their way.

        • #3104105

          One thing to think about…

          by osumiller ·

          In reply to Big Picture

          I was taught fairly early in this business to hold dear the thought that “You can do it, you’ve just never done it before.” Almost all problems that you will face in IT are not unique to you. Learn to google, and you can go far. Take this time to really broaden your experiences and when the time is right, market yourself by the monumental tasks that you have been successfull in.

        • #3285611

          Good money & opps?

          by ebeck ·

          In reply to Nah

          If the money is good and keeps going up, and he has more chances to try new technologies it would be better to stay longer. It really comes down to the company. A good growth company continually expanding offers a large amount of autonomous growth for an IT group. Moving too quickly into a larger company may lead to boredom and being in an specialization you don’t really like (once the standard big biz structured way of doing it sinks in).
          But when it becomes routine and stale, I agree get out and move on.

    • #3285604

      A small comany

      by zlitocook ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Is a great place to start out! They do not expect as much of you as a large company would and you can learn ways to do things that you would have to ask or wait for a mentor to get back to you. This can be demeaning to you and others at a large comany can be, well mean if you dont know how to do something.
      This is your chance to learn more then any where else, you can learn how a company will do things and what you are expected to do.
      I like to work for small companys because it is easyer to get a job done and people like you because you do a good job!
      Watch and learn!

      • #3103665

        stick with ’em

        by mmarkett ·

        In reply to A small comany

        I agree with the sentiment that you should stay where you are for a couple reasons.

        1. By being the go-to person in a smaller company it gives you an opportunity to get exposed to a wide variety of technologies and gain experience needed when/if you move on

        2. Big companies may offer more opportunities but they also offer alot more beracuracy and more chances to get laid off on a whim. Most big companies are public and the ultimate boss is the shareholder, so if revenue projections aren’t met the first place they look is to cut overhead (read – you)

        You’re making yourself invaluable to this company by doing it all, take it for what it’s worth and enjoy the ride…………

    • #3285456

      The Grass is Always Greener …

      by wayne m. ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      There are advantages to working at a small company and advantages to working at a large company. Each company is different, so focus on how you are feeling about the current situation.

      Are you learning new things? Are you learning how to work with people? Do you like (or at least do not hate) going into work every day? Is the stress level within your enjoyable or tolerable range?

      Get everything you can out of your current job. This is not a selfish approach; this will benefit both you and the company. After about two years take stock and look at advancement opportunities. They may be with the small company (it may grow) or they may be with a large company, but worry about that 2 years from now.

    • #3286675

      Work Well — Big Rewards

      by w2ktechman ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I currently work at a very large global company, but, I only support a small arena of the employees. There are several of us supporting 1 department.
      Because of this, it seems more like a small company, and there are a lot of benefits to it. Especially customer satisfaction. People in this kind of environment are more appreciative than on a deskside team for the entire site or larger (trust me I have done that too). Job satisfaction is much, much better and I usually do not dread coming in.
      But I still have some of the large company drawbacks, like reporting each call, detailed call text, counting how many calls I have on a day by day, week by week, and month by month basis. Cutbacks are not too uncommon either (large companies like targeting IT for cutbacks often).
      Perks are that I do get training, even in things that are not really my job responsibility (more limited though). So, I guess I am in a pretty good position for now. But, as I only provide support for a small group, I am constantly being looked at for workforce reduction.
      My advice to you is pretty much the same as many others, stay there for at least a year, and get some exp. under your belt. Find something that you would like to specialize in, or look into project management. While you are there, you will have days/weeks where you are really busy, and others where there may not be much going on. You can do some training at those slower times.

    • #3286645

      Reply To: Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      by simon beck ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Whether it be a small or large company, I always have the same outlook. Stay until I get fed up with the job, then look round for something new.

      I don’t see you missing out working for a small company. I personally prefer the atmosphere a small company has.

      Ultimately it’s up to you and how much you want out of life.

    • #3286547

      Through the hoop little doggy

      by tony hopkinson ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      In my one man shop days. I was SQL server DBA, VMS and Windows Admin, senior devloper VMS and windows and webmaster, technical project lead, tea boy, code policeman, trainer, technical author, vendor liason and R&D technician, overworked , underpaid deity.

      So no you aren’t unless you buy into the HR appreciation of our job. Don’t think Master Of None, think multi skilled.

      PS I’m not a one man shop anymore, concentrated client server development, being a one man shop is a lot of work and bugger all appreciation. But my one man shop experience has been very valuable.

    • #3075547

      Reply To: Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      by it girl ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      i think when you’re a recent graduate a small company is the best place to begin. you have a chance to sharpen up your skills as you donot get lost in the rumble as you would in a large company. small businesses as well, invest more in their employees (my experience) as you come out better for it. i am a recent graduate myself and currently employed in a small company and i love it. they are helping with any further srudies i have and there is afocus on developing me. yes it is in their best intrest as they gain from me knowing all this but i gain as well. if/when i do move on, i take alot with me. don’t think of it for the money think of it for the experience. two years is a good time to stay if you really want to move from them. most places when they are looking for IT personnel they want at least 2 years.

      • #3103656

        Same Prob here

        by sandeep.kunwar ·

        In reply to Reply To: Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

        Ya dude i m also experiencing the same prob.
        As work load is too much which i loved to carry in starting but now they expect me do overtime as my fixed schedule.
        Having exposure but with Less salary.
        Even now i m feeling bore with my work

    • #3075422

      Enjoy your E-person Status

      by docbrown ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Take it from someone who started out as you did; as an “everything person”, responsible for all aspects of IT, from software and hardware deployment and management to network troubleshooting and customer service. Eventually, you’ll wind up in an IT dungeon nursing servers all day, longing for those days when you you had hands on knowledge while working for that small business! On a small but very effective scale, you are functioning as the key MIS CIO for your organization, which provides you the ability to shape how your organization will function now in the future. I beg to differ. It is we who are competing with you, since the majority of businesses in this country (assuming the US) is conducted in the SOHO environment. Take good notes, document your changes, and I guarantee you, you will be giving me instructions on IT considerations outside the corporate environment.

    • #3103655

      I worked at both

      by doug m. ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I’ve worked at both small places and global places. The small places can be nice, but often times you have a lot of family members either owning the small business or just working there and that can be awkward to outsiders. Global companies have a tendency to slap a number on you and forget about you. Until its time to make cuts that is. You have to find sonething that feels right for you and if it stops feeling right, look elsewhere. You have to look out for number one.

      • #3103619

        Totally agree and then some

        by kevinf ·

        In reply to I worked at both

        I have worked at both as well. Corporate was nice for the perks and yes, you learn tons of stuff. The small company was nice b/c I came at a time where I could use what I learned to help them grow. I think ultimately it just depends on your goals. Depending on your budget, you can learn and gain exposure to lots of things.

      • #3103609

        don’t rely on somebody else to train you

        by gnbonney ·

        In reply to I worked at both

        I have also worked for both. Big companies generally have better benefits. However, if you are working on a project with 100 other people, you will just be given one small piece of that project to work on. They may put you on something you are not interested in and you find yourself gradually getting pidgeon-holed. On the other hand, with a small company, you may never get a chance to work on the kind of projects you are interested in.

        So, I would say don’t leave it up to the company to train you. You have to do it yourself. For example, if you are a Java programmer working on a big J2EE project, when you go for interviews they will still ask you lots of technical questions. Many of the questions may pertain to things that you didn’t do in your own little corner of that big project. However, if you have trained yourself, you can still give good answers to the questions.

    • #3103636

      I think you are right

      by avid ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      if you want varied experience i think you should be working for a computer consulting firm. you get exposed to a wide variety of networks. you get to see how other techs have approached a problem, and which solutions work best.

    • #3103597

      Career Thoughts

      by bgurney ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      You have to come up with some objectives. In my experience, there are 3 key interrelated areas:
      Personal + Career + Economic

      These have to be from the perspectives of RIGHT NOW, +/- 5 years and ultimate.

      >Personal – where do you want to live ? This determines the market you need to be in synch with. For example – If a particular rural location is important, then smaller company experience may be the best avenue – then you may want to focus on finding a more complex environment or ones with ubiquitous technology.
      Want a big family (or have one already) ? Then the work / home time committment and how it’s handled in smaller vs. larger orgs may be important.
      >Career – what role might you eventually want to have ? This determines what you need to learn and experience before you can attain that.
      >Economic – what earnings do you need to support your personal and career objectives ? It also can steer you to company’s that can help – ex: Advanced Degree – what companies provide aid might become an important consideration, this may lead you to only want larger org in future.

      Qualifications provided by experience for IT positions fall into a few basic categories.
      -Technologies in play (HW, SW, NW, etc..)
      -Scope (breadth of experience in terms of roles, business processes and technologies)
      -Scale (sheer size of supported systems, databases, users, transaction volumes, etc)

      In any case, knowing what you want and synchronizing it with the markets you can find it in will ALWAYS make you stand out from the crowd of candidates for ANY job, now and in the future!

      So you can plan to build your background around the above with your goals in mind.
      Hope these ideas help you clarify!

      “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”

    • #3103585

      Small company GOOD, for now

      by maus_69 ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I started out at a small company, and only later on in my career did I start working at major multinationals. Almost daily, the experiences that I had back then help me now. The great thing about small companies is that you get breadth of experience, and this is the perfect time in your career to get that breadth.

      Once you see a particular area (infrastructure, network management, help desk, PM, app dev, whatever) that really sparks your interest, THEN you can begin to specialize at larger and larger companies.

      I have seen far too many people at big companies who never had the benefit of small company experience first, and the sad thing is that they often have no perspective. Because they specialized and “went deep” so early, they only know their one area, and as a result are far less useful to the company, especially in situations requiring problem-solving abilities.

      Anyway, that’s been my observations over the past 10 years or so, so my advice is – learn ALL you can, then go deep and move up.

    • #3103552

      Be very careful!

      by bg6638 ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I’ve spent 30 years working exclusively for small companies as the lone “IT-guy”, and while working for a small company can be rewarding, I strongly suggest moving to larger employers. Why? Thru personal experience, I have found that larger employers view my past experience as practically worthless. They felt the systems that I wrote don’t scale up to larger volume levels, and the largest network I managed *ONLY* had 1 AS400, 1 S/36, 5 Wintel servers, and 50 workstations. Typical comment is that many college labs have more equipment.

      Also, to be a competitive IT worker, think *beyond* IT! Within the next 5-10 years, you must be a “business system solution provider”. Specialize in IT alone, and you’ll find your skill set outdated and not desired!

    • #3103547

      You’re better off being a JOAT unless

      by sjohnson175 ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      you prefer to be one of the narrow-focus types (who tend to gravitate to large companies).

      Some small companies have the same problems though. I left a ~150 employee company loaded with petty turf wars to go to a large multi-state bank.

      I’ve actually managed to fall into a sort of JOAT role here. However, my title is officially “Programmer” so I get looked at like a two-headed alien when I suggest a given project team doesn’t need a DBA to use DTS for copying some data between SQL servers for example.

      As a recent graduate you don’t really “know what you want to be when you grow up” so you should work on as many things as you can until you realize what you like best.

      I enjoy all aspects of IT but do prefer development over all others. I’d much rather write code than manage a domain for example. Yet I’m capable of doing both.

    • #3103469

      Small Business means more room to innovate

      by schwana ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Working for a small company usually means that as an IT Admin you have to look harder for smarter innovation to keep your company in stride with the big boys. Sure you may have a smaller budget, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot that can be done. Particularly when it comes to security measures – everyone has to do it, big and small, to protect their business assets and reputation. Your challenge – find the perfect security fit for your company size. They’re out there. Good example for email and access control software, Essential Taceo, priced especially for the small business:

      • #3103466

        The People make a Small company

        by stephenmoriarty ·

        In reply to Small Business means more room to innovate

        I found working for small companys rewarding in terms of long time friendships and over the years lots of good contacts when its time to move on. You might have a friend from the small company who can sing your praises at a larger company. Other things that irked me was sometimes you were left out of the loop on IT decisions mainly because you could not be everywhere at once, and saometimes systems would show up without your input and you were told to support it. You may never get rich in the small company IT department but for longitivity in a job it cannot be beat. I also found it very valuable in the world of IT consulting because you may see more different things and know what works and what does not in your the real world. I also found small companys would pay more for training but you had to really work the case for training to get trained.

    • #3103445

      Large vs. Small

      by ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I was recruited out of college to a large company with a couple of huge IT departments. I was pigeon-holed into supporting an in-house application that was soon replaced. That, and the office politics, were the main drawbacks to the corporate IT environment. I did have a good mentor the last year I was there. If I had been at a small company, I would have known more and been more confident about trying things outside my area. BTW, I’d still be there, if they hadn’t closed the plant. Patti was a great mentor.

      I’ve worked for small companies, where they actually say Thank You, and your recommendations carry more weight and can effect the whole company.

      Two bits of unsolicited advice (okay, 3):

      1) I know 5 obsolete languages, so I recommend learning something that is evolving, not just because it is the “latest and greatest”. For example, my husband started with Pasqual out of school, switched to C, then C+, C++ and now C#.

      2) Max out contributions to your 401k (especially if they match – FREE money!) or max your ROTH IRA (until you qualify for the 401k) each year. Social Security ain’t gonna be there for me, much less you! This is the best thing I ever did.

      3) This year you can now can set up a 529 account, and you can pay for your own (not just your kid’s) education and books with pre-tax dollars. Even better – tuition and books reimbursement. Never stop learning…

      Hooking into these guys is a great resource. They are helpful and really know their stuff. Wish I had something like this when I was starting out. Networking isn’t just IT.

    • #3105826

      Think of all the fun you would be excluded from

      by jamesbrown ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I too am in my first year in IT and am with a small company. There are some drawbacks such as lack of technical mentoring and less access to some of the fancier “toys” found in Enterprise environments. However, nowhere else would you have as much freedom and independence. At a larger company, your tasks and methods would be dictated to you and you would rarely, if ever, get to influence purchasing and implementation decisions until later in your career. Use this time to sample everything and learn as much as you can. You just can’t beat the broad range of experience you get at a smaller company.

    • #3105790

      Best thing to do…

      by rgun2515 ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Best thing to do would be to work for a consulting company. It’s the best way to get experience. When working for any company, large or small, you will not have the confidence as you would if you had worked for a consultant. Someone who has configured 1000 firewalls can do it better and faster than someone who has only worked on one or two. I personally would never hire someone that didn’t have this high pressure high volume experience. I just find someone that has done consulting knows more.

    • #3105780


      by victoree ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Before you leap off the jetty into “Ocean Looking For The Next Rung Up” consider. Consider that you are young. Feel the freedom of this, the springtime of your life and look CAREFULLY at the job you have now with eyes that discern the deep learning; the gaining of global perspective where you are now. Before you specialize in a great big company where you will be walled off to do what you do without knowing how what you do fits into the larger scheme of things, EMBRACE this opportunity you have of being THE competent authority in the building. Love this moment because you may have only one chance like it in the world.

    • #3105549

      There is a danger in larger companies.

      by jgmsys9 ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      It has been alluded to in a recent “Communications of The ACM,” that large enterprises often act behind the scenes to deskill their technical employees, thereby making them useless to any organization but their own. I find myself in just such a situation at the moment. You at least will have the opportunity to have a diversified skills base, albeit perhaps one where imperfect knowledge of any particular area may be the result (“jack of all trades, master of none” effect). But in your case, complete retraining won’t be necessary. It is in mine, and is now far too expensive to undertake (I now find that I require a Computer Science bachelor’s degree to get anywhere in IT anymore – I don’t currently possess such a degree), thus I am considering leaving the field, much to my chagrin.

      • #3287661

        take charge of your own career

        by gnbonney ·

        In reply to There is a danger in larger companies.

        I’ve never heard that terminology (“deskill”) before. I don’t think that large organizations really try to make their people less valuable, but it is true that often they don’t want to spend money training a person if that means they will lose them because they can now go elsewhere for more money. Basically, though, they just don’t care about your career as much as their deadlines. Also, due to budget cuts, they may just not like spending the extra money on training.

        Anyway, I will say that I am now working for a smaller company, and they actually have a policy that everybody has to have a certain amount of training each year.

        However, I think regardless of company size, if you are getting marketable experience where you are, you shouldn’t be too quick to switch, but if you’re not enjoying your job don’t wait too long to make a change. Life is too short, and you don’t want to get stuck in a rut. I’ve been pidgeon-holed too many times in my career, so I know how frustrating it can be. As somebody else in this thread said, you have to look out for number one.

    • #3287065

      It’s all about the spin

      by mberner_learner ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      You have a very valid concern. One of the things you need to be diligent about is networking with others outside of your company and building your contacts. If you can find a more experienced tech who is willing to act as a mentor, that can be a big advantage. Also it would be a good idea to work toward industry certifications, A+, MCSE, CCNA, etc. and find something in your job that you can become an expert at, whether it’s with Exchange Server, or IIS, or more network related a a one man show you are responsible for becoming jack of all trades, you decide which one to become a master of. You might also want to set up a small network at home with a server and at least one PC or laptop, and a wireless network. Use this to play and to learn. Finally, I would use your current position as a stepping stone to a job in a larger company.

      One thing that has serverd me when I was coming up the ranks was to develop relationships with a few technical recruiters in your area and keep in touch. If they are any good they will want to stay in contact as your develop, so they can place you when you are ready. Please feel free to contact me at if you have any other questions. BTW, what part of the country are located in? Good luck.


    • #3105060

      Great place to start and continue…

      by matthew moran ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      A small company is an excellent place to start an IT career. You work more closely with management and owners, your work can make a tremendous impact on the business, you can move more easily between projects and disciplines and touch more technologies. Additionally, you will probably have the opportunity to train and present to users, managers and owners.

      I advocated this year ago – before I wrote, The IT Career Builder’s Toolkit, I expanded upon the idea in the book, and continue to write about it.

      Small business does not mean 3 people – in the US, a small business can have as many as 200 people – even more in some industries.

      The reasons I hear why you would not want to are a little silly to me. Things like your mistakes are easier to notice, or you have to take on more responsibility.

      I would never determine my career path based on the safest, least reward-driven environment – the large company. I will always want my work to be in the spot-light. If I continuously make mistakes, I suppose that is a problem. If I occassionally make mistakes but I much more often provide great solutions, the small business is by far the best place to rapidly grow your career.

      And don’t believe that a large company won’t look at you if your first 10 years of experience is at smaller companies. That is just not true. Moving between large or small companies is far easier that some people want to make it sound.

      If you have a tangible and visible set of skills, large companies will gladly hire you from a small business background.

      On the flip side, if you work in a large IT department to start out, you are often segmented into x technology or y technology. Kingdom type control often exist and makes moving between departments difficult.

    • #3103975

      Not missing out

      by obiwaynekenobi ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      I too have just recently started my IT career (about a year and a half experience) and have worked for small companies.. for the most part it was a decent experience because, as others have said, you can interact more with management and get a better view of how business processes work (good for me since I want to eventually be more of a “business systems analyst” type). Small businesses are a good way to “get your feet wet” as it were; the only problems I’ve seen is a) a tendency to have WAY more servers than they need (I’ve worked for three small businesses, all of them had at least 6 servers! One had around 10!) because whoever set them up thought it was best to have a server for each and every function, and b) no incentives to ever upgrade technology (budget reasons). Let me tell you, the company itself may be a great place to work but it’s no fun supporting ancient legacy systems (Win95/98) because “why replace it when it works?”

      Those small gripes aside, cut your teeth for a while and then see if you can get the opportunity to work for a larger company. Small businesses are good, but long term? Give me the enterprise anyday.

    • #3148754

      You can do more small then big, I did

      by kpescatello ·

      In reply to Working for a Small business- am I missing out?

      Let me tell you from experience the only thing you might be missing is mroe email and more money. I was like you 6 mos ago and now I am at a large Phamr co doing stuff. Big companies move slower so the odds of you missing out on much isn’t great. In fact I am bringing them more newer technology then they would by themselves. In fact I am changing the way they do business. So don’t sweat it. I am without certifications but I know how to make things work. I am even trouble shooting things outside my job scope because the talent is lacking.

Viewing 24 reply threads