Little Fish, Big Fish [Guest Post, Quarter Life Crisis]

25 Mar

By Chelsie Schroeder
The Dow Chemical Company
on assignment by Kelly Services

Are you a big fish in a small pond or are you a small fish swimming in the ocean? When we graduated college we faced a decision about our career path… small business, non-profit or corporate. Each of these businesses certainly has its pros and cons and I have had the opportunity, first hand, to swim in each “body of water.”

Big Fish Little Fish

Most people have their preconceived notions about each particular type of business. Small businesses have no money or opportunities to grow, non-profits don’t make money and are less competent, and corporations are cut throat and only focused on the bottom line. However, working for each of these businesses has allowed me to clarify these theories.

Small businesses and non-profits have similar pros and cons regarding business structure and environment. From my experience, both allow more of a flexible work schedule, with a larger opportunity to be involved outside of the business. Networking experiences are easier to come across, simply due to the need to network and expand the business as far as possible. You may not get paid as much as you would in a corporation; however, there are several learning opportunities that you will not get in a large firm; for instance, seeing a project from its mere ideal state to completion and have a hand in each step. These types of projects make you feel like you are making a larger impact/difference in the community, and some of the best-run companies out there are small businesses or non-profit

The two biggest cons of these types of smaller businesses are obviously the pay/benefits and the limited opportunities for growth. Now don’t get me wrong, there are smaller businesses that pay really well and give you potential for growth; however, those are few and far between. Though they may want to, small and non-profit businesses usually do not have the funds to pay someone a larger salary for their work or provide them with learning opportunities, to expand their knowledge base.

Quiet, unfriendly, competitive, cut-throat…Corporate. No; however, corporate America does have a negative connotation about it. I believe that this is due to the challenging work environment that allows fewer individuals to make it to the top. Most people have to abide by more strict working hours and end up putting in more time outside of the work day to fulfill their recommended workloads. Individuals working within corporate businesses also have fewer chances to get outside of that working environment and network with people of the small businesses/non-profits because their schedules are simply too busy.

Although these things might deter someone from working corporate, there are several pros to be in the big business world. Obviously the pay/benefit options are going to be much larger than they are for small businesses. There is more money flow in these types of businesses allowing them to pay their employees a competitive salary with lucrative benefits and large opportunities for growth/learning. You may not see a project move from start to finish in a large firm, but you do get to be a part of a functional team that works together on their specific segment of the whole. Sometimes you may get in a team that is cut and dry or stuffy, on the other hand through my experience, I am working with a friendly group of people who have the same goal and are willing to help each other succeed.

So what is better…being a big fish in a small pond or are you a small fish swimming in the ocean? This answer is truly up to the individual, priorities and career goals. If you could choose to start over today, where would you choose to “swim?”

Chelsie Head ShotChelsie is a God following, creative, outgoing, curly haired, tall, vizsla loving, vino sipper, shopaholic who is addicted to volleyball, spinning, and her supportive husband. Contact Chelsie at


One Response to “Little Fish, Big Fish [Guest Post, Quarter Life Crisis]”

  1. jennellemaki March 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Great post Chelsie! I loved reading about your experience in all different types of organizations!

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