Why I Left Big Companies to Work with Startups

Before coming to Propllr, I worked at two Fortune 200 companies. They both had very different cultures, but the things that made them similar are why I decided I needed a change of pace: my job descriptions were laid out like a manual and I constantly felt like I was running like a machine.

In college I minored in entrepreneurship because I was interested in smaller companies but I didn’t really know why. While my friends were aiming to get jobs at companies like Amazon and Procter & Gamble, I felt like I would’ve been happy working at the local sandwich shop.  

When job-hunting season came around, I quickly realized why my peers only aimed for large companies. The pay, benefits, and well-lit career paths were difficult to pass up.

A Glittering Start

My first job out of college was at just that type of company. It was with one of the most-recognized brands in America and the office was on the highest floors of one of the nation’s tallest skyscrapers. The view of Chicago was even better than from the viewing decks most people pay to visit. There was a lot of prestige that came with working with that kind of company, and I was really happy to be there.

However, as time went on and the sparkly mist of having a fancy new job faded, I stopped looking out the window and focused on my work. I started to work long hours to meet the aggressive goals, often over 12 hours a day, which was normal at this company.


Some people grow and excel in that kind of environment, but I am not one of those people. After a year, I landed a job at a similar company with the complete opposite culture. Most people left by five o’clock and the goals were a lot less aggressive. I thought this would solve my problems, but it didn’t.

I realized it was because I still didn’t feel fulfilled by my work. Even though I had a career plan laid out, I didn’t feel like I was growing. At both companies, I just felt like a tiny cog in a huge machine. There were so many other small parts in this machine that if I wasn’t working hard, nothing really changed. If I just got up and left one day, my responsibilities would quickly get absorbed by the other people in the company.

That’s when I decided that I had to work at or with startups at my next job. Luckily I found a startup that works with other startups – double win!

As soon as I started here I went from hearing people say, “Ooh, that’s cool,” to “What’s that?... oh,” when I told them about my job. Most of my friends were surprised by my decision. Why would I leave a position where I was managing huge brands for one where I got to support companies that most people have not (yet!) heard of?

For me, the answer was simple: I wanted to see the impact of my work.

Work that Matters

I now immediately see the results (and sometimes consequences) of my actions – and so do our clients. Because they’re startups, the amount of effort that I put into my clients can impact their success directly. This allows me to develop and learn much faster than I would have at a large corporation, even if I don’t get a fancy title change.

As I dip my fingers into the multiple facets of the company, I am constantly being challenged to solve new problems in creative ways instead of being challenged by how long I can work or how much data I can analyze.

Being able to work autonomously at a job where there is always something new to learn makes coming to work much more enjoyable and valuable. I no longer feel like I’m just a cog that has to complete the same task over and over again. I guess you can say I’m more of the fuel that powers the engine.