The Career Differences Between Big Firms, Small Firms and Academia

Over the course of your career, what have been the key take-aways from being in small firms vs. big firms vs. academia? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Julie Gurner, Doctor of Psychology, Using skills in tech to increase productivity, on Quora.

My takeaway after being at Universities, Community Colleges, Startup Companies, and consulting with Large firms (and executives) as well:

Academia moves at a glacial pace (I can't describe how slowly) for every. little. thing. For example, the hiring process at most schools is a duration of months. Translate this to how slowly it takes them to adopt policies, update programs, coursework, etc...It's painful. They are falling behind, and will continue to unless something changes. They need new blood badly, but won't take the chances to hire it.

Small Firms. I'm going to classify this with startups. They are my favorite by far. They run lean, they do everything quickly, and they take risks. Sometimes they crash and burn, and sometimes they turn out brilliantly. They have fast ideation to action pipelines, and it allows them to grow, make adjustments, and get things done. I can't tell you how exciting it is.

Big Firms. Often they run like a slow moving elephant...it's going ahead with momentum, but it's not going quickly, and it's very likely others will beat them there. Sometimes, because of their resources, they can do things others simply can't, they often have brand recognition, solid talent & great legal teams...and there is value in those things as well. Also, if they see competitors, they can simply acquire them - getting all the benefits of the small firms, while staying a market bohemoth.

This question originally appeared on Quora. - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:​