To reach a higher state, someone will have to pull you up. In a major company with a lot of talented individuals, you can’t just walk in and get a job. The recruiters have to take a look at you first, and if you can win them over, they’ll put you where you need to be.
Luckily, many young, fresh companies these days believe that talent is worth pursuing and treating well. Your job is to work hard enough to be that talented. Don’t worry too much about the immediate payoff. Value learning above all—if that means you’re called an intern for the next year or five, that’s okay. So long as you’re learning and changing the way you work along the way. Who cares if you’re a full-time employee with salary and benefits? Yes, it might help you support a family and live a stable life later on, but if you want to do great work for the rest of your life, you need to learn first. Allow yourself to be recruited and be selfish only in one respect: Make sure that wherever you go, you take every bit of knowledge that you can. Learning is the one thing that you can negotiate (silently) as much as you wish. You don’t get to demand more money right out of the gate, but you can learn more by choosing to work for people at organizations that can help you grow.