Big Company, Small Company
Not everybody is suited to working in a gigantic global corporation. But then not everyone is happy working in a small business. Whose company do you prefer?
"The size of the company means I get an overview of a range of jobs and great training."
Andrea Genisio, 26
Course: 2:1 BSc European Business with Technology, University of Brighton/ University of Turin
Employer: Reckitt Benckiser
Job Role: Graduate systems analyst
"After graduating I felt that I’d like to join a graduate programme which would offer a good training structure and would allow me to try a number of different roles. At Reckitt Benckiser the graduate programme is two years long. I’ve changed job roles a number of times because the company wants us to familiarise ourselves with the different roles within information systems. Moving around means that you get to know the whole department but you learn what you like doing. I’ve found I enjoy project management.
There is a range of international opportunities and, in the second year of the graduate programme, you usually move to another country. From the start, I’ve had the chance to travel around Europe and I am now based in Germany. It’s quite likely that I’ll be based here for my next role too. The training on the job is excellent and when you enter each assignment you have an induction on the softer skills you need, such as negotiation. In such a big organisation you work with people from all around the world and some of the biggest challenges and rewards come from working with all the different cultures.
I had been concerned that in a global organisation you are far away from the decision-makers. In big companies, strategic decisions are made at national level. But at Reckitt Benckiser I feel I’m in a big organisation with a small business approach."
"In a big company you’ve got to be a good communicator and you need to be able to build a good network."
Nathaniel Comer, 25
Course: Business Studies,
University of Surrey Roehampton
Employer: Sun Microsystems
Job Role: Partner account manager
"In my year out before university I worked in an office for six months. I found it really dull and dreary until I found a job in sales, which I loved. It was with a small organisation called Sound Marketing, which was made up of just 12 people. I found the work really dynamic and interesting. When I graduated, I took a sabbatical role as the student union vice-president. After that, I decided that I needed to move to a larger organisation. I also felt that it was a real boost to have such a well known organisation as Sun Microsystems on my CV.
The training at Sun U, which is the organisation’s training college, is second to none. I recently had a presentation skills course where they videoed me and then gave me feedback on the way I come across. Career progression is another plus point. There are many different roles that you can move into, as well as opportunities to work abroad.
In a big company you’ve got to be a good communicator and you’ve got to be able to build a good network. Without such a network of people to back you up you are dead in the water. But what you do need to know is who can get you that information fast. I was pleasantly surprised how open and flat the hierarchy is at Sun Microsystems. You also work in a team, which means that you get the interaction on offer at a small company whilst enjoying the benefits of working in a large organisation."
"For a company to say, ‘Go on, show us what you can do,’ is amazing and has made me so much more confident."
Bhavesh Desai, 21
Course: BEng Internet Engineering, Brunel University
Job Role: Winner of the Shell ‘Step’ award for the ‘Most Enterprising Student’ in London
"I’m in my final year at university. Because I hadn’t taken a sandwich course and wanted to gain work experience over the summer I applied for a two-month placement through Step, which offers undergraduates project-based work within small to medium sized businesses. I spent eight weeks working for a company called Mafkildea, a small, solid wood floor supplier with six employees. They had initially asked for a student to do their website and help with the marketing. But when I showed up I saw that what they really needed was a new invoicing system: there was paper everywhere. So I decided to build the whole system from scratch. Because of the size of the company I was able to analyse it from top to bottom, make the system fit and really make a difference.
I really enjoyed doing it and it’s helped the company. The time spent on administration has fallen by 75 per cent and the financial saving is more than £16,000. The system I’ve built can take up to 400 per cent more as the business increases. For a company to say, ‘Go on, show us what you can do,’ is amazing and has made me so much more confident in my own abilities in anything I undertake in the future. I’d had no previous hands-on experience. I’m absolutely sure that small businesses are where I’ll end up working in the future, hopefully running my own company."
"Everyone mucks in together and wants to do the best for the product, which we believe is hugely valuable."
Libby Appelbee, 24
Course: English Studies, University of Stirling
Employer: Cobra Beer
Job Role: Marketing communications executive
"As part of my four-year course, I studied in the USA at the University of California, Davies. During my year there I ended up working for the entertainment council, which was part of the student union at the university. It was then that I became interested in event management and public relations.
After graduating, I knew that I wanted to work in the media so I took at job at News International working on the media sales team for News of the World. It was a great first job. I learnt all about newspaper production and was given training in marketing and sales. The attraction of joining such a huge company was that I thought there would be room to move around but that didn’t turn out to be true. After nine months I decided to return home and pick up some experience in PR. It was difficult because I knew it would mean a wage cut. I started training for my PR qualification with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and managed to pick up a sixmonth contract with the Health Protection Agency.
When that contract ended, I returned to London and, after applying for some jobs, I was offered roles at Citibank and Cobra – a huge corporation, and a small company. Citibank had offered me £28,000 a year but at the end of the day I decided to take a £8,000 pay cut and take the job with Cobra. I just loved the atmosphere, which has got a real buzz to it. There are about 75 people in the whole organisation. Everyone mucks in together and wants to do the best for the product, which we believe is hugely valuable. There is a lot of flexibility and it’s a very supportive environment. In a small company it can be harder to find funds for things that you want to do. With three new products there is plenty of work and pressure on the team. But we have big ideas and I’ve got faith in the company."