Who do you want to work for?

Who to work for

I've put together a quick assessment that will help you decide what kind of workplace would best suit your personality.  Go ahead and take the quiz now if you want to.


It used to be that people counted on working for a very few companies in their life, and some people started at a place out of high school or college and retired from it 45 or 50 years later.  Today it is the unusual person who doesn't work for 5-10 different employers before leaving the workforce.  Partially, that's because the economic climate is more volatile with companies being born and dying at a faster rate.  It's also cheaper to start up an app company or a software company than a manufacturing company.  And with so much venture capital pouring into new companies, most of which will not last 5 years, there is no longer a stigma associated with working for a failed company.  Also, even the big companies no longer feel as paternal as they used to.  When bad economic times hit, employees get fired fast.  Pensions, which were a way to reward loyal employees for a lifetime of service, are becoming rarer.  Add to that massive layoffs we saw during the recent recession and employees don't feel very loyal to their companies and will bolt for better offers.

 So, one result of this is that you'll probably have the opportunity to work for a variety of different kinds of companies.  You may think that you want to work for a small company, because you're attracted to the intimacy of a small team, the lack of rigid roles, and the independence and informality that goes along with it.  I was working for a 30-person software service company in the 1980's that was just like that, and it was doing ok although not spectacularly.  Then we got acquired by the giant public accounting firm Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers).  Talk about a rude awakening.  Overnight we got introduced to time sheets and expense reports, a rigid and very visible delineation between the partners (owners) and all the rest of us, and meetings to plan for meetings. It was a classic clash of cultures, but there was never any doubt over which side would prevail.  Ultimately, it was a tough integration for our small company, but I found a role in the firm which enabled me to develop leading edge software, become an expert in emerging technologies, and travel internationally at the firm's expense (and in First Class when First Class was really first class).  There's little doubt that I would not have had those opportunities at the 30-person company.  So sometimes you just have to go with the flow to see where it takes you.


So, don't be afraid to experiment.  I think that the type or the size of the company you work at is less important than the business culture, and that's the next topic.

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