Question from Quora
As a software developer I worked at companies both large as well as small and I can tell that the former have a greater diversity of projects and technologies compared to smaller ones.
I consider diversity of experiences an important part of a professional’s improvement because I met people that mastered well one technology but lacked the overview that a wider range would give.
Having said the above, do you consider wise to join a small startup (before A series) early in your career (after college)? If you were to stay for 4 to 5 years there, I think that lack of diversity can put an upper bound on one’s learning. For senior guys (10+ years) it might not be a problem to go deep into an area but for a graduate, diversity is quite crucial.
What’s your opinion about this?
Dan Walter’s Answer
Diversity of projects at a small company comes in a far different form. I wrote an article about this a few years ago and thought it might be good to provide a summary here.
At a small company you may be focused on a single technology or single product, but you will likely be involved in far more aspects of that single thing. It is common to have a voice in the product name. But at a small company you may also find yourself designing a logo, or working directly with internal or external market experts to get the word out. You will learn more about the nuances of sales and finance and probably how to change a roll of toilet paper and how to make good coffee.
As a company grows your job become more focused, even as you use more (and sometime better) technology. Some people love the ability to contribute to almost every piece of a company. Some people like the deeper dive that a big company has to offer.
When hiring people it is a good policy to dig into these questions. Hiring a people that matches the reality of your company is the best way to succeed.