The day I said NO to a Big Four- 3 mins
Every year tons of college graduates debate with relatives and friends about what should be their first steps into the job market. Except for a very small handful, here in Portugal the majority of engineering grads will end up with a consultancy company, most probably a Big Four. I don’t condemn this, however, there are more options available to those willing to pursue them.
The phenomenon is explained by people’s laziness. Through my entire senior year I was applying to numerous jobs, attending interviews and starting my first company. On the other hand, my fellow colleagues were going to interviews only because they got contacted by recruiters through LinkedIn or via university mailing lists. The job offers they were applying to came only from big companies. After all, they are the ones that have the money to invest in recruitment campaigns for the masses.
I myself had considered going to a Big Four
As an electrical and computer engineer, I was not sure about the professional path I wanted to take: I was not fully a software engineer, neither into the hardware industry. The compelling part about going to a consultancy firm was that I didn’t need to specialise in something. Rather, I was buying time to jump to the next thing whenever I found out what it was. In the meantime, I hoped to learn from participating in different projects and being exposed to such a big organisation because, ultimately, we were still talking about a market leader and a worldwide recognised brand.
During the last year of college I sent dozens of CVs and met many different companies. In the end, I was pretty comfortable at job interviews and felt like I could show my value to anyone. The result of that was…
I had several offers, including one from a Big Four. I simply had to say NO. It wasn’t the more compelling, it wasn’t the more exciting and it wasn’t even the best paid. I took an offer from a startup - Onfido - where it didn’t feel like I’d just be buying time. It was the best decision I ever made and the job fits me like a glove.
My role is Product Support Engineer. That means I work more or less as an intermediator between the technology we build and the people that use it, being them clients or colleagues from non-technological teams. This gives me great exposure to lots of different areas of the business and it allows me to learn more than I would in a Big Four, where processes are much more bounded. I also have the freedom to carve out a path and find a better way of doing things. I can be more creative and have more ownership of my work than I would have elsewhere. What I appreciate the most about our culture is that it’s really collaborative — everyone’s an expert in their field and, despite being a group of over 150 people across 3 countries, I have contact with everyone from the receptionist to the co-founders, working cross-functionally to solve real business problems.
The other side of the coin is that my master thesis went down on the list of priorities. Still, I’m clearly being rewarded compared to others that embraced the job market in a passive way. That’s the main reason I decided to write this piece. I feel like everyone is missing out. They had focused so much on finishing college and forgot to think beyond it. What’s the point of putting a lot of effort on a degree to end up unhappy in a job that is a crap? I know many great engineers that would have benefit much more from searching for a job they deserve. Instead, they’re now one more bee in an old-fashioned company.