I've secured a year long internship that I will be doing this year before coming back to complete the final year of my Computer Science degree. The company I've got the internship with is quite successful but not really too much in the public eye. The salary itself isn't brilliant either although will last me comfortably.

I haven't managed to get into a huge organization like Microsoft or CERN and am wondering whether this will have a huge affect on my career once i graduate. My stereotypical view is that if one has a name like Microsoft on their resume then they can get into pretty much any company once they graduate and those whom go to smaller companies have a really tough time finding a place. How much of this is true?

On a personal level, I'm going into it with the mindframe of just getting a huge amount of experience during my time at work albeit the salary not being great. I hope that interviewers or people who look at CVs and decide who gets the job also care for the experience side of things regardless of how large an organization they went to. A friend of mine is going to CERN and his salary is almost double mine, the company as we all know is hugely popular - so it makes me think whether I'm just wasting my time with a smaller company.

Nothing wrong with a smaller company. I imagine it all depends on what exactly you are doing at the company. Just because someone works at a big company doesn't mean they're necessarily doing impressive work at that company. I have never heard that stereotype before and I doubt that a hiring manager is going to assume someone is hot stuff just because they had an internship at Microsoft. Working in a small company or a small department has its benefits too. You might have more responsibility at a small company. It would depend entirely on the company and the company's reputation. I've known quite a few people who have interned at very large companies and what they did was not very impressive. They did, for lack of a better phrase, "intern stuff". As for CERN, well certainly they do some quite impressive stuff, but who exactly is doing it? CERN and Microsoft have all sorts of people doing all sorts of things, much of which is going to be mundane. People reading the resumes are going to realize that. You're certainly not "wasting your time" with a smaller company. Both sides have their ups and downs. A huge amount depends on whether your manager decides to mentor you or instead simply views you as cheap code monkey labor.

As someone who has recruited in the past, my main concerns were:

  1. Did this candidate have the experience relevant to the position?
  2. Would this person fit in with my team?
  3. Would they enjoy working in this position?

I would also say that I have dealt with people from large companies who were a complete waste of time as well as some who were absolutely brilliant.

It is alot easier to "hide" in a large company where you are anonymous than it is to in a small company. People who try to "hide" in smaller companies don't usually last long.

Also in a smaller company you are more likely to have worked on a variety of different projects but that being said, you could argue jack of all trades master of none.

Experience and how you use it is the key.

I understand the whole issue about it being really easy to 'slide through' with large organizations whereas with small companies you have to earn your salary by actually being good at what you do. My main concern is basically that after I've graduated and I apply to a few places - there will most likely be other people who have gone to CERN or Microsoft etc. I don't want the people that are analyzing my cv to ignore/sideline me as a candidate due to some big names on other candidates' applications.

In terms of grades and stuff like that I'm so far doing really well (getting the highest possible classification in the two years I've done) so the only thing I would like to be able to do is to get interviews - fom there on I can definitely prove myself to be a worthy candidate. It's only the process before that worries me, I wouldn't want my name to get lost amongst other potential employees who have gained experience from really well known companiues.

I'm sure that in some cases somebody from HR will read a cv and say "Microsoft, there's a company of our standards" and put that cv in the top of the list.
The good thing is that nowadays companies don't hire unless there is a specific need, which brings up the key question: "What exactly did you do for Microsoft/small software house/whatever?" (even from the cv review phase).
If that answer matches their need, then it shouldn't matter where you've interned.