Life at the World’s Greatest Tech Companies
Life at Infinite Loop and Microsoft Way
Even their addresses are suggestive of company stereotypes. Microsoft, at One Microsoft Way, screams big and mammoth. Google’s 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway address is understated, as its user interfaces. Apple, of course, takes the bold think different step with One Infinite Loop a play on words that could come back to bite a less beloved company.
Despite the little eccentricities of each company, these companies are much more alike than they are different. Software companies are youthful at heart, if not in actuality. They scorn the stuffy suit-and-tie atmosphere of their predecessors and elect to wear just jeans and a T-shirt. In fact, this casual attitude is so potent that it’s pervaded even the social scenes of tech hubs; only a handful of restaurants in Seattle and San Francisco would request anything beyond jeans.
Despite rumors to the contrary, the biggest tech companies generally offer a pretty reasonable work/life balance. It’s not a 9-to-5 job in fact, the office is relatively quiet at 9 a.m.—but few people work more than 45 to 50 hours per week on a regular basis. Many people work around 40 and are considered strong employees.
Although other industries push high-performing employees into management roles, technology companies tend to be more open to the individual contributor role. Many companies have promotion tracks that offer a great salary and more individual responsibility without becoming a manager. After all, great engineers do not necessarily make the best managers.
Big versus Little: Is a Start-Up Right for You?
Go to almost any business school and you’ll find that there are about three times as many people who claim to be interested in start-ups than people who actually end up pursuing this career path. Why? Because start-ups are sexy. Newspapers splash stories about start-ups that made it big, or crashed and burned, and we always think we can do that or we can do better. Startups are a high-stakes game, and you’re gambling with your time as well as your money.
The Job Title: What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
The question every kid is asked over and over again. What do you want to be when you grow up? We answer definitively as kids, but as we get older, many start to think I really don’t know. Few, especially outside of engineering roles, have a laser focus on their long-term career goals. That’s okay. Talk to people, research positions, and start figuring out what’s important to you. Ask yourself the following questions to start understanding what career path makes sense