They’re different in large companies than they are in smaller companies. Some programmers know this intuitively, some learn it over the years, and some never quite figure it out.
The following list of some of the differences between these rules of thumb might help out new programmers who are just entering the workforce.
- In large companies you’re a specialist; in smaller companies you’re a generalist. You have to be a programming guru in large companies, grouping together whatever skill-sets it takes to get the job done. In smaller companies your programming skills can be average but you need to be a guru when it comes to knowing every aspect of the business. The fewer skill-sets you use to accomplish this the better – expanding the number of skill-sets it takes to replace you does a disservice to the company by eventually increasing their labor costs.
- In large companies elegant programming counts; in smaller companies if brute force programming can get the job done faster then use it.
- In large companies you can speak Klingon – business analysts will translate it into English for you so others can understand what you’re saying (that’s a large part of their job). In smaller companies speak English, or your native tongue – there aren’t any translators.
- In large companies your satisfaction will come from solving a programming problem your peers can’t, or from getting something done faster than your peers could. In smaller companies your satisfaction will come from seeing people appreciate the fact that you’ve made their job easier. (In large companies you might not even be in the same state or country as the users are so there won’t be any helper’s high coming from them.)
- In large companies a major mistake could cost the company a lot of money. In smaller companies it could cost everyone their job.
“The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else. Job security is an illusion. The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career!” — Earl Nightingale
I work with candidates looking for full time and contract positions. Many that are looking for full time say they want the security. Those looking for contract say they want the flexibility. Although I understand this thought process, I truly believe that just as Earl Nightingale stated above, the only security and flexibility you have in your career is what you make of it.
Job security comes from making sure that your daily performance is more then what is expected. Be smart, be willing, be excited, be humble, be dependable, be a top performer in whatever you are given so that you always stand out. Job security should have nothing to do with the position you hold in a company. If you are genuinely good at what you do and stand out as a top performer, then you should not have to worry about whether your job is secure..
According to an article in Salary.com there are 14 important things to do if you want to stand out at work:
- Be noticeable
- Be a Team Player
- Develop a unique knowledge base or skill
- Be positive
- Cultivate a life outside of work
- Learn more
- Pay attention to the decisions you make
- Take responsibility for the mistakes you make
- Super performer, super employee
- Share your knowledge and your experience
- Stick it out when the going gets tough
- Say “yes” to opportunities that come your way
- Always do your best, no matter what the task
Each of us has control of whether we will be a person who stands out. Each of us has control over whether we will be a top performer. If you go into each day with a focus on standing out and doing a great job, then you will own your career!