Monday, May 4, 2009

The Tech Guy's Perspective

Greetings! I’m a firmware engineer with a bit over four years of experience in the industry, and today I will be sharing my thoughts on working for a large corporation versus a small startup in my field, which may be relevant to other fields as well.

Let’s first start off with the corporations first. Here are the good things:

• Lots of resources
If you need a new piece of computer/test equipment, you will usually get it. There’s usually adequate test equipment for you to carry out testing if your work calls for it. The amenities in the office are very good: the two corporations that I’ve worked for had their own cafeterias with caterers, and one of them even had its own Starbucks!

• Standardized work processes
These are corporate-wide processes that everyone needs to follow. What I’m talking about are things like writing design/specifications/test documents, getting them reviewed, approved, and signed off and submitted into document control, all before actually starting work on the project. There are also reviews of all your work before it can be signed off. All these standardized processes take time and may be really tedious, but it’s well worth the effect in the long run.

• Lots of room for growth
The corporate ladder is a long one. In a large company, it usually goes from new grads, juniors, intermediates, seniors, leaders, managers, directors, VPs, then the chief whatnots. You can keep climbing the ladder as high as you want as long as you put in the effort and do what’s necessary. If there’s no room to be promoted in your team, then it’s just a matter of transferring to another team so you can get promoted there.

Then we have the startups. Again, the good things first:

• Decisions are made in good time
Because the number of people is usually small in startups, decisions can be made within 1-2 meetings where everyone who has authority has given their consent. As a result, there’s no idle time where the team is just sits around waiting for the final decision before they get to work.

• The energy
In a startup, there is no job security. If your company’s product does not sell, then you lose your job along with the rest of the people in the company. This means everyone in the company believes in the product that they are building. When everyone’s sailing the same ship, everyone helps out. When all your colleagues are focused, you become motivated to come into work and contribute.

• Competent people
Since startups have limited funding, they usually only hire smart, hardworking people. There is no room for slackers. The teams are small already, and no one likes to be around someone that needs to be babysat.

• Variety in work
Again, because the number of resources is limited, each person may be tasked to do quite a few tasks that may or may not be related. It’s a great chance to broaden your knowledge set, i.e., more things to put on your resume. You will also find yourself constantly learning new things instead of doing the same old task over and over again.

So what are the bad things for each of the corporations and startups? Well, basically just the opposite of the good points of the other. So which is better? I have to say that each has its good and bad, and its better if you can experience both; just remember to take the good things you learn from one, and apply it to the other. If you love your current job, then by all means stay there. But if you were like me and got fed up with the way things are, then try the alternative- just don’t burn any bridges before you leave in case you need to go back one day.

Thanks for reading!


1 comment:

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