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I am a Computer Science Master's student in the US, and I am in the good position of having choices of jobs to take after graduation.

On the one hand, I have interviewed with a few local companies. I think any of these would be great opportunities, plus I could keep living in my current apartment and I have friends and family here. They are not small companies, but they are not companies I knew of before moving here.

On the other hand, I have interviewed with some west-coast big-name companies. While these companies obviously have lots of interesting projects, I have no idea what role I would be assigned. I would have to move across several states, but I am young, single, and adventurous, so that could be a good thing. The pay rate is a bigger number than the local companies, but accounting for cost of living the take-home rate would be similar.

In summary, I think I would be happy either place. I have no compelling reason to choose either. However, the one point my dad brings up is that the west-coast company would be more valuable to me in the future. I could always move somewhere else later, but declining those job offers now means I would 'never' have the chance to make the alternate choice.

Is he correct? How much does company name matter to future interviewers?

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Dukeling, jcmack, solarflare, Michael Grubey Oct 18 '18 at 5:40

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    It also depends on the responsibilities you had and the work you did at that company, and where you want to go and want to do in the future – HorusKol Oct 17 '18 at 20:53
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    I picked a lot of companies based on their brand during my career. There are a lot of pros and cons. Starting your career with one of the Big 5 (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon) tends carry some weight in your next job. If I had to do it all over again, I'd pick a well funded startup to start with. Big companies tend to have a lot of bureaucracy and dead weight. – jcmack Oct 17 '18 at 22:05
  • RE: "west-coast big-name companies" - Have you considered the cost of living? For example the San Fransisco bay area is very very very expensive. – MaxW Oct 17 '18 at 22:12
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declining those job offers now means I would 'never' have the chance to make the alternate choice.

I can't think of a situation where some career choice is no longer possible. Whatever makes you think this, is probably incorrect.

Is he correct? How much does company name matter to future interviewers?

It varies, but in technology it mostly doesn't matter a lot, for two reasons :

  1. As an experienced developer, you will soon realise if you are available and qualified, you are good enough for interview about anywhere
  2. Most of the skillset doesn't vary a lot and technology you are familiar with may be learned anywhere

This is why basing a career choice on brand name is probably ill-advised. There are numerous more important things you should pay attention to, like salary, location, management quality, interest in job description, interest in technologies...

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Personally, I don't care who you worked for - I care what you did. I know people that have worked for the "Big Five" and were absolutely brilliant. I also know people that have worked for the "Big Five" and were a complete waste of space. I know people that worked for a no-name company and were either brilliant or a waste of space. I know contractors that are brilliant and contractors that are a waste of space. There's no particular correlation with size or fame of company.

Work out what you want to do and where you want to live, then pick the job which most closely matches those goals. With all due respect to your dad, he's wrong to say you'll never have the choice later - you can always move later. The only thing which makes it significantly harder is having a family, but that's by no means an insurmountable obstacle.

  • I'm glad to hear you think that way, but regrettably much of the world does not. As a simple example, when I joined a "Big Five" company, the amount of attention I started getting from recruiters skyrocketed -- even though nothing about me had changed. – jpatokal Oct 17 '18 at 23:16
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Brand name is important, especially if you are just starting out.

Your next potential employers are likely to prefer someone who worked for a more recognizable outfit simply due to the assumption that those places had proper processes in place versus a local "mom-and-pop shop" (this, admittedly, may be a bit of an exaggeration), where you possibly did not have a chance to learn how to deal with things like QA, project managers, architects, HR protocols, properly deployed technologies, etc.

  • Thank you for your response! I appreciate your perspective, and I have upvoted you, but I would like to know why you say what you say. Did you have an experience where "brand name" hurt or helped you? – Sompom Oct 17 '18 at 21:52
  • @Sompom: Thanks! It's hard to know if mentioning certain company on the resume helped you vs. when it didn't, so I can't answer that. However, I would assume some companies would prefer to hire someone from the recognized "brand" if just in hopes of you being able to help them set up shop like the big dogs, as well as to skip training you on wearing proper attire, email communication protocols and such. – mGPF Oct 17 '18 at 22:40
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    I have serious doubt you could qualify this as "important" regarding other aspects. As a recruiter I never really paid attention to this. If anything, it would be below overall experience, overall familiarity with technology, programing skills. It may influence somewhat. It will never get the job in itself though – Arthur Havlicek Oct 17 '18 at 22:46

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