People of San Francisco: resist! You are right to protest the busses that are ruining your town and transporting your brightest souls away to the dark campuses of Google and Facebook. Resist them! And resist Yahoo's efforts to lure you to their downtown offices too by placing recruiting signs at those bus stops and offering coffee to their competitors' employees. This is snarky and predatory. This is the evil, wicked world of working for a large company. If you choose to work at a company like Yahoo, Facebook or Google you will soon regret your decision. Have you not seen The Internship?
You may think there are great perks. You may believe that you too, a former watch salesman, will be able to bed that beautiful senior Google executive after only talking with her a few times. Or that working there is like going back to college, with half-dressed people lounging around in the sun, riding their bikes, sleeping in "nap pods" and playing GTA4 all day. But it is not. You are misguided. A big company is not the place for you.
You don't want to work for these guys. You want to work for an established small company. Or even a startup. Why? Because it's a way, way better life.
Don't believe me? Just look at Aasif Mandvi. He was such a nice and funny guy on the Daily Show. But Google turned him into a total jerk! If you work for a big company then you'll be stuck with your boss, even if he's a jerk too. You will have little say because there are rules and corporate ladders and tenure and hierarchy. At a small company, depending on your experience and value, you'll have more say as to just who your boss is. Your boss will rely on you more. You will likely forge a closer relationship. Not only that but you will probably work for many bosses and do many things. And your likely boss will be the owner, not some mid-level manager who's carrying around a grudge because John Oliver gets more air time than he does.
Go ahead...work for that big fun. But don't complain to me when you're forced to do team building things, like play Quidditch and wear matching multi-colored hats with propellers on them and write apps together. In big companies there always seems to be extra time for this sort of nonsense. But if you work for a small company you're busy doing real things in the real world trying to make real money. You're not going on corporate retreats led by executive coaches (who used to work at big companies but are having a better life on their own). You're building relationships by together building products to survive.
At a big company, you'll have to deal with stupid college kids that think they're smarter than you, like Lyle in The Internship. OK, that's not very fair - Lyle's kind of a sweetie. But big companies have the resources to hire super-smart MIT and Stanford grads to work for them (and watch out for the ones with British accents because they always seem to be the meanest). These kids may be smart but here's a secret: most of them are virgins. No, not about that you pervert. I mean about corporate life. Managing people. Handling pressure. Meeting with customers. Dealing with problems. There is nothing worse than working alongside an arrogant 21 year old who thinks he's way smarter than you because he's proficient at taking exams and getting an A in computer lab but has never been with a girl before. So yes, it is about that too.
What you should be doing is working for a smaller company. There are plenty of them in the Bay Area. You live in the home of venture capital, the nexus of startups, the oasis of entrepreneurism. Take advantage of this. Go small.
Because at a smaller company you may have the potential for more equity and even greater riches. You will have more flexibility with your time. You will be an instrumental part of the machine. You will come to work every day feeling like you're truly doing something with your day, not just reviewing lines of code or going to meetings. You will learn more about how a business runs after spending one month at a small company than one year at Google. You will work much closer to the owners, senior managers and investors of the company, giving them the chance to see what you can do and creating relationships that could last for the rest of your (potentially very lucrative) life. You will be taking more risks, not just collecting a paycheck, and this will motivate you to work harder and give you a buzz. And guess what? You'll be the envy of those people working at Google, Facebook and Yahoo.
Why? Because they want to be working for a smaller company too. They want to be entrepreneurial. They want to be risk takers. They want to be owners. They want to be as successful as Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg and Marissa Mayer who all started out as entrepreneurs themselves and who wouldn't be caught dead working in your job because well...they're entrepreneurs. Working for a big company does offer some value like better pay, more benefits and more security. There seems to be a lot of those cool glass walls that you can write on. And of course there's the opportunity to hang out with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. But those perks, like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, will get really old really fast. You don't want this for your life. You want more. You want excitement and the potential to make real money and to feel like you're really contributing to something. You want to be working at a smaller company. That's where the action is. That's where your future is.
A version of this column previously appeared in Inc.com