Friday, December 16, 2005

Sweet, sweet foreshadowing

A few months ago when I turned down two other job offers to accept the Microsoft one I asked myself if I was making the right decision. It was a decision based more on some kind of fascination with the software giant rather than any concrete reason to work there. The last thing I said was "Decisions based on impulse tend to be short love affairs. Foreshadowing perhaps? I hope not."
Well, I guess it was foreshadowing. There are ups and downs in every career but surely this is a little too soon to be battling disillusionment. Decisions, decisions. It's not a bad place to work but it's not the creative freedom I was craving nor a very organized or open work environment, which surprised me. There's a lot of my vs yours, no clear accountabilities and a lot of last-minute heroics every week which could easily be avoided with better processes but that doesn't seem to be a priority. Being here I can almost see how it took Microsoft so long to fix the problem with the old Windows crashing all the time.
It's still a good place to work by many people's estimate. I guess it depends on what you are looking for in an employer. A great 401k plan, ESPP, full medical/dental, access to professional books and training, free Pro Club membership, free drinks, subsidized food (and a pretty good menu - you can order ribs for lunch at the cafetaria for crying out loud), laid back, casual environment and the ability to set your own hours. I have a coworker who regularly comes in at 10 and stays past 6 and another who is here at 6 and out by 4. But it's also got the pace of a much too big company. Slow, sluggish and somewhat disorganized. I am used to the more fast-paced energetic environment of startups and I feel stagnant. Maybe I am just in the wrong part of the company. I don't know.
Coming from an idyllic long vacation has a way of throwing life's little nuisances into sharp focus. In a few days I will probably go back to being fairly happy with the state of things as they are but right now I feel disgruntled. But hey, that's the nature of the office worker. Just ask Dilbert.


At 12/16/2005 9:22 PM, Anonymous Flexo said...

In big companies like Microsoft, culture can differ greatly from department to department. If you can handle being patient (some people can't, and I'm one of them), you might be able to put in the required time in the department you were hired and transfer to more of an "emerging business" area, which could operate more like a start-up.

I guess I'm just saying don't give up on them so soon. Talk to people in other departments... see what's there for you...

At 12/19/2005 6:37 PM, Blogger mmb said...

That's really good advice. Thanks. I'm impatient too. I did set up some time to talk to a few other people in different parts of the company but Under Microsoft policy you have to stay in your group for at least 1 year before you can start interviewing for other positions and I don't know if I can last that long.

At 12/22/2005 9:50 PM, Blogger Hazzard said...

I was in a .com company in Seattle and worked my tail off. They compensated me well, gave me some stock options (which made me a little money in the IPO), and it was an exciting place to be. I now work for one of the other VERY large companies in the NW and joke that it's my "semi-retirement". It took awhile to get used to it (I'm going on 5 years now) but I like it now. Mostly because, due to my normal work pace, I tend to outperform most others that I work with. That makes me a shining star and gets me more money (larger raises, etc).

I had very similiar thoughts to yours a couple years ago, but you know what? The beauty of being in a large company, besides the 401k, pension, stock etc, is that you can move around during your career. Once you build a reputation as a performer, everybody wants to hire you. Just my two cents.



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