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Out of Our Minds
Wednesday, July 20, 2005 4:04 PM
The Falling Ax
Anita Sharpe on Business

I heard from an old friend who climbed the rungs at a Fortune 500 company for nearly 20 years, but expects the ladder to be pulled out from under him any week now. He doesn't work at Hewlett-Packard, which just announced more than 14,000 job cuts nor does he work at Kodak, which today added 10,000 more layoffs to the 12,000 cuts announced last year. He's a middle manager at another one of the many corporate giants trimming its payroll.

My friend is thinking of striking out on his own, or going to work for a small business. Not so long ago, that would have been a seriously risky move with no real ladder to climb and no guaranteed pension (heck, how about no guaranteed paycheck?)

But of course, risk is all there is now when it comes to careers. So, why not go for broke and love what you do?

And, I'm curious: since, I've never worked for a huge corporation (unless you count the Wall Street Journal ), what are some of the things that make a big company a great place to work now that job security and pensions aren't part of the package?


Jenny - 7/21/2005 9:36:14 AM
I think another 'plus' of working for a large company is the mobility between groups. In a small company, you have a few groups, or perhaps just one group, and if there are people in that group with whom you have unresolvable conflicts, or you simply want to change your role, you're stuck. But in a large company, it's more likely there'll be an opportunity to move into a group that fits better or to become part of a project that can help you exercise talents other than what you were first hired for. By contrast, small companies tend to keep employees in their original boxes, so to speak, so it can be harder to expand one's role or develop other talents without leaving outright.
Harold M. - 7/20/2005 10:50:55 PM
Big companies do big things in the arts, community service, and recreation. Bank of America, for example, has had a huge impact on the quality of life in Charlotte and many other cities: rebuilding downtowns, erecting Habitat for Humanity houses, etc. Big companies can dream big dreams and mobilize thousands of people with lots of money to get big jobs done. If you're affiliated with that, it's pretty cool.
Julie - 7/20/2005 10:44:05 PM
Any small business person who has spent an hour on the phone with Dell Customer Service knows that the biggest perk in corporate America is the Technology Support Department. Ditto on the mail room and the supply room. I've been frustrated as hell since I left these lifesavers behind.
Joan - 7/20/2005 10:37:45 PM
One thing big corporations can offer that small companies often can't is a diversity of role models. As a woman climbing the ladder, it is important to me to observe the many choices women above me make, and to watch more than one formula for success (and failure).
Jay - 7/20/2005 8:28:08 PM
I work for a large company in the tech industry. I do what I love, I code and I develop and I run projects. What I love most about this company is the variety of opportunties. There is always something interesting going, some project that's interesting. I'm looking for bigger challenges and they want to solve big problems. It's an appealing mix for me.

sam - 7/20/2005 7:00:02 PM
Rant…I have worked for several of these so called 'huge corporations' and not one of them really has that much to offer over a small company other than as others pointed out a resume builder with a brand name. Why we toil for 20 years or more at a a corporation anymore and assume they are going to care is beyond me. The simple fact today is that collectively corporations/companies don't care and hence employees don't care.

I work with many 20 and 30 something workers and most simply do not care and would job flip around at the toss of a coin if they could make more elsewhere or hold a better title. Long, long gone are the days of companies paying out pensions, giving decent raises and keeping people around because they are good and put together an honest day’s work. If you don’t trust, push integrity and loyalty, why expect it from employees. All of these things are two way streets and I would give no loyalty, trust or integrity to any huge company that I would work for today. Bottom line is all these things are a two way street and right now its forming into a railroad where CEO salaries and rampant deception and theft are everywhere and developing countries are lopping off our businesses one at a time. If we continue down the road to stupidity we will be the next superpower which is passed up. It won’t happen next year or even 5 years from now but eventually and all this ‘huge companies’ and their collective moronic abilities will be the first to fall. Just like the dotcom bubble, they went in a flash and it wasn’t for a lack of cash.
Bill Kidd - 7/20/2005 6:12:56 PM
Craig is right in one sense: Big companies have plenty of money for the things they care about (for the moment) and they spend it so ridiculously that an employee can feel like a king. The sky boxes, the limos to the airport, the never having to ask when you spend money, the right-up-close tickets for clients. You get to feel like you're important because you're spending someone else's money.

Beyond that, Craig is dead on with his other point: It's the resume eye-popper that comes from the brand name. And name dropping rarely goes out of style even in a Free Agent Nation.
Craig - 7/20/2005 4:21:53 PM
Resources and an opportunity to learn.

If you are lucky enough to work on your organization's pet project, the company will often spare no expense in creating something really cool.

My plan is to be a part of as many cool projects as I can, get this stuff on my resume (and more important, in my brain) and use it to build my own company.

I also figure that, if I need outside funding to start something, it will be easier if I can point to things I built here and trade on my company's brand name.


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