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Why Many Top Engineers Choose Company Culture Over Big Names

Top engineers

There’s more to job satisfaction than the name of the company that you work for.


The name of a Silicon Valley giant on your resume might be impressive, both to you and anyone else. And there’s no denying that the salary that comes with a job at one of these companies is impressive. But more new engineers are thinking twice about reaching for the stars, and considering what smaller companies have to offer.

Don’t think of it as lowering your expectations, because that’s not the case at all. It’s more about defining what’s important to you. For many, the paycheck is only part of what makes a job worthwhile. There are a lot of elements to job satisfaction, and a smaller company might have more to offer than you realize.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

It’s hard for a startup to compare to the giants of the industry. But maybe they don’t have to when it comes to competing for talent. For a young engineer, the appeal of a bigger company might wear thin once the HR package is filed away and the first few months of work have settled into a new routine.

The real indicator of job satisfaction isn’t the resume credit or the excitement of winning the job. Real satisfaction, or lack thereof, is in the day-to-day once the new wears off. The larger paycheck that comes with a bigger company isn’t always enough to equal satisfaction, and that gives startups a competitive edge.


Top engineers

Having a voice in your company can make all the difference.


Young Engineers Value Relevance

If it’s not a bigger paycheck that matters, then what? Nicholas Clark, a contributor for Entrepreneur magazine, suggests that relevance is what young engineers really want. In a bigger company, it’s naturally difficult to make a difference. In a smaller one, that’s not always the case.

Mid-size companies aren’t as compartmentalized as their king-size counterparts. Where collaboration at one of the big names might mean working within your team, collaboration at a smaller company is more often cross-departmental, says Clark. Your voice and your ideas can carry further in a smaller company with fewer chain-of-command barriers in place.


Top engineers

Culture isn’t just about whether there’s a juice bar; it’s also about how everyone relates and works together.


Great Company Culture Wins Top Talent

Company culture also wins top talent, and that’s another area where smaller firms can compete. The offices might not be as large or well-appointed, and there might not be a putting green or bowling alley down the hall, but the vibe can be just as strong. In companies where the culture is real and not an effect, you’ll feel it with every contact that you make.

Considering how much time is spent at work, how you feel while you’re there is as important to overall wellbeing as the environment that you create at home. And if the culture makes you happy, job satisfaction is more likely to be high.

Engineers work in a field where ideas and decisions affect the lives of many. It’s a far-reaching industry with a lot of influence. So it only stands to reason that restricting any engineer to a small part of the company isn’t always the best use of talent.

For many young engineers, job satisfaction is defined differently from how it was in past generations. So when you’re searching for your first job, or your next job, step back and think about the bigger picture. A position at one of the big names might be impressive, and so might the paycheck. But that’s only part of what makes life as an engineer worthwhile.

No matter where you work, you’ll always need professional development hours to keep your licensing current. And PDH Academy can help. Check out our courses, and see how stress-free continuing education can be.

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