Does working for highly esteemed companies actually help build your career?

This is a repost of a Quora answer I wrote a while back.

As someone trying to convince people to reject the Googles, Apples and Facebooks of the world and come work at a startup, I’d really like to say no. But as someone who used to work at Google, I know that’s not true.

Here’s why:

  • Social proof. While you should never do something for the line on your resume, people know that esteemed companies have high hiring bars. If they don’t think you’re a sucker, odds are good that you might not be a sucker. Coming from a top company will definitely help get your foot in the door elsewhere.
  • Network. These companies work tirelessly to attract smart people. Everyone isn’t going to be a genius, but you’re going to meet high caliber people who will go on to do impressive things. If you’re a reasonably likable and competent person, you’ll build a fantastic network without going out of your way to do so.
  • Mentorship and Exploration. Esteemed companies invest a lot in their employees. There are many resources (classes, projects, people) available for personal development and lots of time to take advantage of them. This is great if you’re unsure about what you want to do or want to learn specific skills for the future.
  • See how its done. This is actually the most valuable part. If you had a chance to learn basketball from Kobe, you’d do it. Similarly, there’s a lot to learn about what to do (and what not to do) from a company that’s doing well.

You should still ignore all of that and come work at a startup ;)

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