When I finished my trainee accountant articles at a big firm, I was happy that I will have a big firm on my resume.
The advantage of having a big prestigious firm on your resume is deemed as priceless.
It is something that most young aspiring accountants, lawyers, architects, engineers and other professionals wants on their resumes.
We all want to work for big prestigious organisations.
However the advantage of having a big prestigious firm on your resume may actually be a disadvantage.
What we deem as an advantage may upon closer inspection be a disadvantage.
When I met a high school classmate who did his articles at a small company, I actually realised that upon completing his articles, he was more experienced and exposed to various facets of our traineeship than I was.
You see working for a small audit firm, because you are a small team, you are expected to wear many hats, one week you are doing taxes for a client, the next week, you are doing audit, the week after, you are responsible for due diligence, the one after, you are helping a client compile financial statements.
Because it is a small firm, with a flat team structure, you are expected to wear many hats which is good for your exposure.
This is something that rarely happens when you work for a big prestigious firm.
Because it is a big prestigious firm, with a big team, and multiple levels of hierarchy, [junior that, senior that, assistant manager, manager, senior manager, associate partner, partner, senior partner etc] you are only assigned one or two tasks for the rest of your duration there.
Are you in the audit section? You do audit for 80% of your duration, very rarely you will get to do taxes or accounting because the tax division or the accounting division has a big team that’s fighting promotions.
The disadvantage of a small firm is that you may not be paid handsomely, and you may not have bragging rights of name dropping the firm you worked for.
But the disadvantage of working for a small firm is actually an advantage because you are going to be exposed to a lot of things and you will be more experienced which is beneficial in the long term.
What is important is being to do the work, not brag about the big firm you worked for.
This principle is the same for:
- A startup vs a big corporate. You are likely to get more exposure working at a startup with a small team than a big corporate with a big team.
- Putting a small division together is more rewarding that joining a big established department.
- A small law firm vs. a big one
You are more likely to get exposure working for a startup or a small company than working for a big prestigious company.
What we often think as disadvantages often turns out to be advantages.
You are likely to form strong ties and work as a team in a small firm. You are also likely to form those ties with your clients as well.
There is something subtlely beautiful about small beginnings, about starting at the bottom, starting small, working for a small organization, for a startup, or a small team etc.
Starting small or working for a small outfit may not be something that many aspire for, because humans are obsessed with prestige, but upon closer inspection, and in the long run, it is always better to look beyond prestige and glamour.
Are you kicking starting your career?
small is the new BIG.