Discussion Thread

Stress levels working at a small company vs. a large company

  • 1.  Stress levels working at a small company vs. a large company

    Posted 04-29-2021 10:13 AM

    Civil engineers who shared their experience and advice in "Explore Engineering Careers in Industry" responded to a few questions we did not get to during the live roundtable discussion. 

    Here are their answers to the final question in this series of posts:
    Today's question:  How would you compare stress level working for a smaller company vs a larger one? It seems that you're responsible for more things working for a smaller company. On the other hand, it seems you have more challenging projects when working for a larger company.
    (Answers are based on individual experiences)

    Robin A. Kemper, PE, LEED AP, ENV SP, F.SEI, Pres.19.ASCE, Senior Risk Engineer, Zurich Resilience Solutions:
    Working for a smaller versus larger company each has its own pros and cons.  And after all is said and done, it depends on the specific company, not whether it is small or large.  Below are just a few examples:

    Smaller Company 

    1. Exposed to different types of projects, typically within one discipline
      (Can be a larger variety of projects. Consultants can be selective about projects they pursue. - Jane Driscoll, P.E., M.ASCE, Facilities-Maintenance Engineer, John Deere Harvester Works)
    1. Work on multiple projects at the same time
    2. Learn about how the company operates sooner than later
    3. Able to develop relationships with everyone in the company
    4. Easier access to senior management and sharing your ideas
    5. Opportunities for advancement may be more limited   

        Larger Company

    1. Opportunity to work on mega and/or iconic projects
    2. May work on the same project for several years
    3. More opportunity for mentoring from several different people within the company
    4. May be able to switch to different departments with different discipline focuses
    5. Opportunity for advancement may be easier due to the larger corporate structure
    6. Company may be bureaucratic
    7. May be able to support you more in activities outside of the office such as ASCE and EWB


    If you missed our live session watch the recording posted on the Career Discovery web page collaborate.asce.org/careerdiscovery.  Also register there for the final roundtable session exploring civil engineering careers in construction – and bring your questions for our panelists!

    Jennifer Hofmann Aff.M.ASCE
    Manager, Professional Advancement
    Reston VA