Can you get more growth and experience working at much smaller companies (<100 people) vs. those like Big Tech?

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Software Engineer at Series B Startupa year ago

At every Big Tech company, the stack is very custom and a lot of the hard problems are already solved. Because of this, is there a limit to the kind the learning you can get at larger companies (>1000 engineers), which you can bypass by going to a much smaller company (<50 engineers)?

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago
    • In a nutshell: Yes, very small companies can provide both more learning and unique learning, but there's huge caveats. YMMV.
    • From my experience I got to own the entire Course Hero Android app when I was there. For example, I was literally responding to Google Play Store reviews, which I enjoyed - A big tech company would never let you do that. I think startups have the potential to let you really understand a product and own it more holistically.
    • The craziest growth stories I've seen (think new-grad -> director in 8 years) have also come from people joining startups when they're very small and growing with it.
    • However, the above is very contingent on the small startup's growth. If the startup goes gangbusters, you can get that crazy growth, but even then, it needs to grow in a way where you're getting more scope and not just being leveraged as a commodity coder.
    • In general, it's very easy to get stranded in a "growth" desert at a startup where the levels aren't very clear (or don't exist) and you don't have many sources of mentorship.