Big vs small companies for an internship?

big fish little fish cardboard box

Here’s an interesting question, is it better to work for a larger company or a smaller company? What are the pros and cons for each, and which one will work best for you?

Sometimes your experiences can drastically differ depending on the size of the company, so we are going to explore the ins and outs for both!

Big Company 

Pros

Recognition:

A major influence or draw to undertake your internship at a large company over other sizes is Name or Brand recognition. The plus is that it may work in your favour with future endeavours!

Stability:

It could be suggested that a bigger organisation may be more likely to have a structured ‘internship programme’ where the intern will gain comprehensive training throughout the duration and also potentially attend external training courses.

Cons

Bureaucracy:

Layers of revisions and authorizations can really slow down work progress and make you feel like you’re not doing as much work as you are capable of.

The lack of independence can be frustrating to some, especially when daily, mundane tasks are required to go through multiple levels of authority.

No Personalisation:  

Due to the sheer number of employees that work at large organisations you may feel you lose the ‘personal’ feel of a smaller company. For instance, working at a large company can seem more like a “look at me!” contest than a job.

Smaller Company

Pros

Personalisation:

In contrast, if you become an intern at a smaller organisation, you will probably gain more experience, get to know your colleagues better and be more connected to the essential company day-to-day practices.

Since you are more connected to the company, you are likely to be treated as an employee rather than an intern and therefore be given more responsibility. No more coffee runs or sitting bored exhausting all of your social media accounts!

Meaningful Work:

Although not the case for all experiences, smaller companies are often recommended by your careers advisor as they provide means of gathering more skills and doing more work, which ultimately will look better on CV’s and self-growth purposes.

Cons

Blurred lines and lives:

One major issue that could arise when working at a smaller company is the blurring of job lines and the invasion of your working life into your own personal time.

A smaller company has a far more “everyone does a little bit of everything” approach than a larger one. And therefore it may sometimes feel like there is limited amounts of structure and organisational processes. But hey, this does depend on what suits you!

Some may also not fancy the intense atmosphere that comes with a small company as it further builds on that grey area of blurred lines and lives.

On the one side it can be fantastic to have so much connectivity between employees and feel you can share conversations and ideas outside of work but it can also reach boiling point a lot faster! Resulting in awkward situations and problematic disputes, consequently effecting your work.

Which one will work best for you?

Well to be honest there is no correct answer between working for a small or large company, the choice is yours!

However, one deciding factor that may help you gain some clarity, could depend on the course you are undertaking at University or College. For example, a graphic designer may benefit from a smaller company as they will be given the responsibility to build their own portfolio as opposed to only shadowing a senior. Or perhaps you are a business intern and desire to work for a larger, more recognisable firm to get your foot in the door and gain contacts for future graduate roles?

To conclude

Carrying out an internship of any form is going to provide you with new experiences and skills that you can learn from. But perhaps an obvious suggestion could be to try two completely different sized companies during your university years and finding out what suits and works best for you.

“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” Anonymous