This time last year I was swamped in submissions and the never-ending game of catch up in university. Fast forward to a year later and I am an employee starting my career, an entire taxpayer who has to clock in every day of the week – on time. I cannot skive out of anything, even writing this blog post. Even so, I do love my job and I am fortunate enough to not be amongst those that dread every hour of their day at work.
I knew I wanted to work for my current company the second I walked into their offices for my interview and heard people chuckling and engaging in conversation in the background. The non-traditional corporate culture was appealing to me and it was clear before I even met my now current bosses and colleagues that I would enjoy working here. However, that was not the only reason I decided to accept their job offer. My self-awareness and sense of direction regarding my career led me to the conclusion that starting my career at this small company was, in fact, the best thing for me. I will share with you my three main reasons behind my decision and how those decisions have played out since I joined.
There are fewer restrictions and limitations
From my knowledge and research, I found that large corporations have a tendency to fill in entry-level positions as though they are filling in another class of Grade 10s. They have the same objectives and goals they had with their preceding graduate trainees. The roles can be predictable, consistent and adhere to the job description down to a tee, leading to repetitive daily tasks. Maybe this is not the worst thing for the employers because after all, graduates are said to be one of the hardest groups of employees to retain, hence heavily investing in them can be risky.
You may also enjoy
I, for one, did not want to be another fish in the pond when starting my career. I knew very well that I could not fall into a monotonous routine, and I would not win if I allowed that to be my fate. I wanted to be part of an organisation where I had a clear idea of my role and value to the company (I just sounded like a typical millennial right there). My current position offered me just that. I have found that in a small organisation you are allowed to expand your knowledge and explore as much as you can, even outside of your field of expertise. I believe that the minute you enter the workplace you should be like a sponge ready to absorb as much knowledge as you can. That is exactly what I needed and what I got.
You get access to everyone from different levels of authority
The truth is, the corporate world can be predominantly white or male or both and getting into it can be quite petrifying when you are a small town black girl from the Eastern Cape. Frantz Fanon calls this an inferiority complex, this internalised feeling of inadequacy that people of colour can feel when in predominantly white spaces. It takes time to unlearn this. Others are way further than most. I, for one, have my days – it’s a learning process but that is a story for another day. My point is this, working in a small company has given me access to people who would otherwise be inaccessible had I been in a large bureaucratic organisation. Therefore, I would have rarely been able to engage in conversation with them, learn from them, and understand power dynamics in close proximity.
I appreciate the accessibility that a small company affords me because it gives me confidence while starting my career. I observe how the open culture allows my colleagues to challenge authority and the emphasis is on people being the centre of the organisation. Our education system does not teach us nor does it prepare us well enough for the workplace. The company I work for helps to fill in the gap without even knowing it.
You take ownership of your work
I am convinced that starting my career with a smaller organisation made the whole transition into the working class less overwhelming. My friend started her first job at one of the biggest financial services companies in the country and she told me how small she felt and how hard it was for her to find her place in the company. I suppose everyone experiences everything differently, as they should, but I am glad that this is my experience. I get the chance to learn from everyone around me and in that way, I learn more about the industry that I am in. Moreover, there is a sense of accomplishment I feel when I have done my fair share of the job along with accountability to oversight that hangs over my head when I have not played my part.
You may also enjoy
This is not all to say that your experience in the company you are in, whether big or small, is insignificant or that you can only get the best experience in a small company. It is only to share my experience thus far and I must say, I am not regretful.
Written by Aseza Pupuma