Many Young Software Engineers Prefer Startups

If you're a software engineer fresh out of college, most people would think you'd be interested in going to work for the biggest, most stable company you could find, and pay off those student loans. It's not necessarily the case. The fight over the best talent in the industry is being won by small, cutting edge startups that promise more intimate work environments -- and a much bigger potential payoff if your little company turns into a big success.

Ben Newman, 23, who expects to graduate from Stanford in June with a master's degree in computer science, is among those young pedigreed engineers who prefer the intimacy and excitement of a smaller company over the security Relevant Products/Services of a large, established one.

A merged Microsoft-Yahoo "definitely decreases my interest in either company," said Newman, who interviewed with Facebook, the start-up of the moment, but took a job with Mozilla, creator of the Firefox browser.

Bill Beer, a recruiter with Daversa Partners in San Francisco, said the job market was "more competitive in the Valley right now than I've ever seen it." That is because of the battle for talent among behemoths like Google and Microsoft, but also because of what Beer describes as the appeal of working for "the almost endless supply of companies that are five guys in a garage with a really promising-sounding idea."

Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and many of their peers began as people just tinkering in a garage. It's good to see that many still are willing to take a risk in the hopes of doing more than just drawing a paycheck. Don't work for the man! Be the man! Or the woman! as the case might be.