Career Corner: Big fish in a small pond


Job searching can be a very difficult process, especially when you have to decide between multiple offers from employers. When going through the decision making process, it is important to keep all of your options open and avoid the “job snob” mindset, as not every opportunity you accept has to be in a large well-known employer setting.

Asking yourself some open ended and clarifying questions can shed light as to what you are looking for in a job and from your career as a whole. Some of these questions that you should be reflecting on in the process include: “What type of work do I want to do in my job?, What type of growth opportunities are there within this organization?, What do I value most in career, such as money, prestige or location? How will this opportunity prepare me for my next career move and will it help me move forward in reaching my long term goals?”

You should never eliminate a job offer because the company or employer is not as well-known as let’s say Google or Disney because other opportunities can also offer you a chance to develop additional skills needed for the future. Being a big fish in a small pond can have its benefits because if you accept a position in a smaller company, you may also be taking on larger responsibilities that someone with the same position in a larger organization may not have to manage.

Let’s put it this way: imagine that your long term goal is to be a Director for an Orientation office at a University setting. Upon graduation, you receive two Assistant Director Job offers, one involves working for a larger traditional university and the other is a small liberal arts college. Both are great opportunities and have similar components. However, because the liberal arts college is a smaller office, it will give you an opportunity to manage a team and handle all aspects of programing for events in the fall semester, which are experiences needed for director type positions. In a larger university, you may still have many responsibilities but with more resources available to larger employers, you may not have to go outside of your normal role within the organization.

Although both of these jobs would assist the individual in moving forward in reaching their career goals; being a big fish in a small pond in this scenario will give you a chance to handle responsibilities typically assigned to the director and thus make your resume more marketable for future positions.

When you are the big fish in a small pond, you tend to wear many different hats as you may need to stretch out of the typical duties associated with a position of that type.

Now, this is not to say that you should always choose to be a big fish in a small pond but this is one of many reasons that keeping all of your options open in the job search can be essential to making an informed decision about your future. You must evaluate yourself and what you value in a career to determine if being a big fish in a small pond is the right decision for your future.