Popular tech giants have been made out to be the end goal for many entering and working in the tech industry, but can they truly live up to the value they’re attributed with?

Many people who break into the tech sector do so with their sights set on eventually securing a lofty position at a large tech company like Amazon, Apple, or Facebook. It doesn’t make sense to enter the tech industry unless you want to work alongside the best of the best at the top companies around. With that being said, working for large tech companies isn’t the only or best goal to have for your career, especially during the early stages…

What’s the issue with big tech companies?

One of the biggest issues with dreaming of working for a big tech company doesn’t have anything to do with the companies themselves. Rather, the issue lies in people who so adamantly and stubbornly set their sights on jobs at these tech giants. It’s always nice to hear stories of people who attend coding bootcamps and then immediately go on to do incredible work for big tech giants.

What’s important to keep in mind, however, is that these stories are exceptions–not norms. If you’re trying to pivot your career path 180 degrees through a coding bootcamp and come out of it without any internship or past work experience, you can’t expect Google to take you by the arm and lead you into their Silicon Valley office. You most likely wouldn’t have the required experience/skills at this early stage of your career, and that’s completely normal. Your career is ultimately a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t compare yourself to the guy/gal next to you. Their situation is different, their abilities are different, and their background/education is different. You are unique in every way, and it’s important that you focus on developing a powerful repertoire of technical skills–at your own pace. Your first job may not even be your ideal scenario. You may graduate from a full stack web development bootcamp only to end up accepting a position as a junior entry level front-end developer. You may swear to yourself that you’re good enough for a senior full stack developer or a head software developer position, but that’s simply unrealistic. Realize that earning an entry level position right out of the gate is a terrific accomplishment to begin with. From there, you’ll learn and grow into bigger roles over time. Before you know it, you might be sitting in that dream job at your favorite tech giant someday; it just takes time.

Why small companies are undervalued

There’s nothing wrong with working for a smaller company, or even a startup–especially if you’re lacking in experience. Smaller companies can provide you with a terrific launching pad for your career. At smaller companies, you often times have more say and influence over major business decisions/operations. The reason for this is because you’re not a small key in a massive cog, as you would be at a major tech giant. At smaller companies, you would be one of a much smaller number of employees. You can’t “hide” in the background and let Dave do all of your technical tasks for you. You’ll be expected to take on a much more prominent role…and this is a great thing, because it results in you growing as an employee. You will now be expected to take more initiative and guide the company in ways that only your higher ups would at any tech giant.

At a tech giant, you might be more likely to have a lot of your tasks handed to you in a very straightforward manner. There’s nothing wrong with this type of setup, but smaller companies can afford you the luxury of being the one who creates and assigns the tasks to begin with. At a startup, for example, you may have opportunities to create/design proprietary software from scratch. You may have the opportunity to re-design your company’s entire website, on your own. You may even have the right to lead your team meetings and decide the next best courses of action. Smaller companies can sometimes force you to step out of your comfort zone, and it’s very possible there may not be any other tech giant job that benefits your knowledge/skills quite like this.

How do you reconcile?

Perhaps the easiest way to walk this balance between tech giant and startup world is by approaching your journey with a completely open mind. Start learning technical skills without a rigid, unwavering mindset and leave yourself available to various types of jobs/work opportunities. Don’t be afraid to take on free projects from your friends and family members. Be open to doing freelance work on Fiverr and UpWork. Humble yourself and entertain the possibility of unpaid internships. Realize that the gasoline for your career car is going to be your knowledge, and this fuel isn’t going to come cheap. It’s going to be extremely difficult, time consuming, and stressful, but this is exactly how you’ll be molded into the technical person you want to become. Those people sitting in those luxury Google offices didn’t get there overnight. It may be great working for your favorite tech giant in the end, but your journey to reaching that end goal is what you will always look back on as the most memorable time of your career.

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