Wasting time during your 20's?

I woke up this morning to a trending article on LinkedIn Pulse called "Don't Waste Time in your 20's at Google or McKinsey" and it immediately caught my attention.  I highly encourage everyone to check out that article, and start using LinkedIn Pulse as a means to read about current trends happening in your industry. The question is, what SHOULD we be doing in the 20's? Raj De Datta made a lot of really great points that I agree with. Invest time in yourself to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Join a smaller and faster paced company and accelerate your learning curve.  Throw yourself out there; try and experience challenging opportunities.

This article strikes home base for me, as I can completely relate to what Raj is referring to. While it might sound glorious and glamorous to work at a Google-type company (great food! perks! big name! everything accommodated for!), your skills and knowledge are stinted.  Initially Google was my "dream company" that I wished to work for, and at one point I was also disillusioned and very forgiving because I was drinking the kool-aid.  But after a year, I felt my potential waning and I just didn't feel intellectually challenged.  Also, as a Millennial, your growth in a large company is limited because you are perceived as "young",  and chances are, management won't take you as seriously as some of the older employees who've earned their seniority. It's easy to become another "cog in the wheel," lost in a bureaucratic and political corporate struggle as a Gen Y. The bottom line is: when you are one in a 10,000 something company,  chances of you making a difference in that org are slim to none. In addition, it's common to lose your ability to think on your feet and be creative, because the organization provides all resources for you readily at hand.

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely skills that you can acquire from working at a large company, such as understanding the internal infrastructure and networking with a bunch of people. The financial stability is great, and the pedigree on your resume will make you stand out and possibly attractive to future employers. I personally think that everyone should work at a big name reputable company, at least once in their life. But, the detriment comes when staying at a big company for too long, especially while you are in your 20's, hinders your growth and exposure of other aspects in an organization.  How do you know this is the type of role you want to stay at forever, when you don't take the chance of  see what else is out there? Maybe I'll eventually end up back at a large company once I have my career figured out and  want to "settle down," but not now.

My personal philosophy of leaving Google and joining a start-up, versus Facebook or Amazon, was to learn as much as I can. Sure, there's a stigma of "being poor," and worries of being financially insecure.  This is and isn't true; it really depends on the level of risk you are willing to take. From what I know, unless you are working at a start-up with little to no funding with no profitability, or unless you are bootstrapping your own start-up, then maybe you'll be tight on money.  However, if you thoroughly do your homework on the financial standing and team/leadership of a start-up or growth company, you should be fine. The only instance I've heard where an employee joins a start-up and hasn't got paid was on the fault of the employee, since she didn't do enough research (even Glassdoor reviews said the company wasn't paying it's employees! In that case, it's hard to feel sorry for her). Plus, people in their 20's are more resilient and can afford just crashing at a friend's couch if needed. As for the networking opportunities of working in a smaller environment,  lo and behold, I've actually met more interesting and diverse people now than during my time working at Google.  Internally there may be fewer people to interact with, but depending on the type of role you are in, externally you may get exposure and introductions to people you never in a million years could have interacted with at a large company.  One of my  personal life goals is "not having any regrets," and I knew that I would regret not trying to work at a start-up.  So far, the experience has been amazing.