By Emily Suess

As high school and college graduates prepare to enter the workforce in a couple of months, many will have their sights set on working for a big name company. However, there are a few reasons why working for the Googles and Amazons of the world might not be the smartest choice for your career, particularly when you’re just starting out. There are plenty of good reasons to work with small businesses and startups.

1. You’ll develop a broader skill set.

In small business your chances of seeing a project through from start to finish are much better. Why be just another cog in the wheel when you can take on greater responsibilities and learn more? Project management and workflow experience can take you places later in life.

2. Your managers are also your mentors.

In many small businesses, you’ll find that managers and owners are more interested in mentoring their employees. This is an opportunity for you to collaborate on large-scale projects that just aren’t available to newer recruits at Fortune 500s, where competition is fierce.

3. You’ll discover what it is you really want to do.

It’s easy to feel discontented with your work when there’s no room to explore. Working for a small business, you’ll have the opportunity to volunteer to work on projects not directly related to your degree or current skills. Not only does this flexibility offer you the chance to discover your true life’s work, but it makes you stand out as a job candidate later in your career.

4. You’ll learn every part of the business.

Another thing you learn by working for other entrepreneurs is how to be an entrepreneur yourself. If you have visions of one day becoming your own boss, it helps to see how it’s done. In a big company, this kind of opportunity is virtually non-existent.

5. You’ll make important decisions that influence the bottom line.

The closer you are to the people who make decisions, the more influence you’ll have, and the more likely you are to contribute to the success of the business. Not only will you be able to quantify your contributions, you’ll probably find your job more rewarding.

6. You’ll get credit for your work.

If you’re motivated by being recognized for your hard work and success, you’ll get more credit in a small business where everyone is on the same team and aware of your contributions.

7. You’ll be family.

At big companies, mandates for layoffs often come from people at the top whom you’ve never met. And HR policies are established with the business, not the people, in mind. At a small business your job might actually be more secure, and when personal issues arise (and they always do) your employer has more flexibility to work with you. You can get your work done without neglecting your family, your health, or your personal and professional goals.

Remember, you don’t have to be an entry-level job seeker to reap the rewards of working for a smaller company. If you’re unemployed or looking to make a transitions, small business opportunities should be at the top of your list.