Startups vs large companies

October 09, 2013

I've been working at my current job for over a month now, and so far it's been way different than my last one. My last company was a tiny startup, so it was just me and two other guys in a tiny room big enough for a few desks. Now, I'm at a large public enterprise company. The aisle that I sit in has more people than my last company. Here are some of the differences that I've noticed.

People

Then

  • I saw the same two people every single day. Occasionally we'd have some part-time people come in.
  • When one of them wasn't there for a day, it was very noticeable.
  • I pretty much knew what everyone else was up to, and if not I could just spin in my chair and ask them.
  • Our business, product, and engineering departments each took up maybe 30 square feet.

Now

  • My office has 40+ people (our NY office is relatively new).
  • I still don't know half of them, since they're salespeople and I never interact with them. I have absolutely no idea what some of them do on a day to day basis.
  • We have junior engineers, senior engineers, engineering managers, product managers, marketing people, sales people, client relations people, designers, and vice presidents
  • Even within our engineers, I have very limited knowledge about what the other teams are working on.
  • The other week, our CEO showed up, and I had no idea who he was.
  • Our main headquarters, in Austin, has multiple floors of a large building.
  • And finally, there are people here who are not male Cornell graduates in their 20s

Engineering

Then

  • I pretty much had to solve all problems on my own. When in doubt, Google.
  • My decision was the ultimate decision. If I was wrong, well, that sucks.
  • I could get away with writing maybe not the best code, because I was basically the only one who saw it.
  • I could pretty much work on whatever item or feature I wanted to since there wouldn't be any conflicts.

Now

  • If I have a Javascript question, all I have to do is ask the dude next to me. If I have a Java question, all I have to do is ask the dude behind me. If I have an AWS question, there's another dude for that.
  • Since I actually have team members now, I have to coordinate with them and divide up work.
  • People smarter than me will tell me if I'm doing something the wrong way.

Culture

Then

  • Wore shorts, came in at 11, ate chipotle
  • Google apps, Asana, pirated Photoshop

Now

  • Wear shorts, come in at 11, eat chipotle
  • We have free snacks in the kitchen!
  • Unfortunately, being an enterprise means you have to use things like Outlook and Jira, and pay for Photoshop

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