By Shravan Goli
As a tech professional, adapting to change is a core part of your career, but it’s never easy. In my 20 years in the technology industry, I’ve worked in a variety of different cultures, and one of the hardest transitions for tech professionals to make is moving from a startup to an enterprise. Contrary to moving from startup to startup, or enterprise to enterprise, moving from a startup to a more established company calls for professional fine-tuning and, on the company’s part, ensuring the right managerial fit.
Startups aren’t for everyone. Generally, professionals who are relatively new to the workforce, as well as older workers who are looking for an encore career, are attracted to that culture. Four in 10 tech professionals tell Dice they enjoy working at a startup because of its entrepreneurial atmosphere, which allows them to mold the company from the ground up.
At an established company, roles are in a functional lane. That makes it harder to have a broad understanding of where the company is going. In addition, it will take more effort and resources to have a positive impact on the goals of the company.
What I tell startup-to-enterprise neophytes is to set goals with your leadership that are aligned with the broader mission of the company. These smaller wins can lead to bigger ones over time.
Large organizations require great communication and managerial skills. The issue? Startup tech professionals rarely have seen these good behaviors modeled, because it’s not needed in tight-knit organizations.
When first joining a new company, it’s a good idea for professionals to engage, participate and ask questions. That enables them to adapt to the communications style of the company and establish relationships.
It’s not a good idea to be a change agent right at the start. By taking the time to find out where they can make an impact, tech professionals will learn how to communicate and get their team on board.
Cash in on Perks
For some tech professionals, it’s hard to say goodbye to the unique perks (free snacks, unlimited time off and even equity) and flexibility offered at a startup and say hello to the structured work schedule that typical at an enterprise—particularly with 19 percent of the IT pros queried in favor of the freedom afforded at a startup.
However, it’s important to note that work at an enterprise comes with a lot of great pay-offs. In addition to bonus programs and retirement planning options, enterprises provide mentoring and job development opportunities—often in the form of formal training programs, workshops and conferences.
I often hear from more seasoned tech professionals that they want to further their skills by learning how to utilize new technologies. The ongoing learning benefits offered at more established companies can bolster your professional value and help you plan ahead.
Cultivate Your Expertise
With a limited number of resources and an ever-changing work environment, startups require their workforce to wear a lot of hats. Rather than becoming an expert in one specific area, tech startup pros become a “Jack of all trades.”
In contrast, at an enterprise, your position has a lot more structure—something that 18 percent of professionals claimed is at the top of their list of what they look for in a job. What’s great about being a tech professional at an enterprise is that you have the chance to hone your craft. Instead of being pulled in a variety of different directions, you have the opportunity to perfect your skills and learn what you’re good at—knowledge that’s sure to help you market yourself moving forward.
Adjusting to a new role always takes time, particularly after moving from a startup to an enterprise. However, if done right, the move is sure to offer you a great professional experience and the opportunity to become an expert in a new work environment.
Shravan Goli is the president of Dice, a respected career site that brings together in-demand technology professionals and tech-powered companies. An Internet and media veteran, Goli is responsible for executing the growth strategy for Dice.com, ClearanceJobs and the Slashdot Media brands. Before joining Dice, he served as the CEO of Dictionary.com, the general manager of Yahoo! Video and the head of products for Yahoo! Finance.