Working for Apple is the experience of a lifetime. Most everyone who has had that privilege looks back with affection on the experience — if one ignores the reason for leaving. But a recent article, without having interviewed any former Apple employees, looks only at the downsides from a few whiners. It was a one sided, deceptive picture.
The article I want to critique is: "Apple Employees Confess All The Worst Things About Working At Apple.". The methodology was as follows: "We sifted our archives, Quora, and Glassdoor to put together this compilation of quotes from former employees about the worst aspects of life inside the Cupertino, Calif., empire."
And then, despite the clickbait headline, the author suggests we may want to take those observations with a grain of salt. Just so he can get off the hook if need be.
Here's how it really goes.
Apple is a Hard Company to Work For
Working for Apple involves a lot of hard work. Sixty hour weeks are typical, and that's perhaps on the low side. That's because there are difficult challenges in Apple's markets, and things that are worth doing are hard to do. This places a mental and physical burden on people.
It's simply not wise to confuse the euphoria of working for a company one admires with the idea that the work will be constant fun, parties, and special privileges. In fact, the reason Apple is so successful is because the senior management knows that highly talented people, accustomed to hard work, self-motivated and ready to accept deferred gratification can contribute a lot to Apple's success.
And then there are the whiners.
In the spectrum of the population, there are always going to be whiners, people with a distorted notion of what it means to work hard in a team for a common goal and still put up with the irritations characteristic of that company.
The very first subheading in the Business Insider article relates to that. "Apple's secrecy is sometimes so strict it disrupts your family life." The discussion makes me think of my own Air Force career. How sympathetic would people be if a young Air Force Lieutenant whined that it was just too troublesome to lock up his classified documents each night and keep national security secrets from his own wife.
One of the great things about working on the federal sales team at Apple was that most of us were ex-military. I don't think there were any of us who disregarded the importance of keeping Apple's secrets, even if it meant some personal sacrifice. While I was doing that, my wife was away a lot, working on the Nathan B. Palmer, a U.S. Antarctic Program icebreaker in Antarctic waters. We survived.
Next, "Everything, and I mean everything, is decided by the marketing team at Apple." Of course it is! Can you imagine how Apple would utterly fail if every V.P. and Director got the idea that they could speak for Apple?
Very, very early in my job at Apple, I almost got fired myself for mentioning, on a list server, (before it shipped) that Mac OS X would have the terminal app. (It was up for debate back in 2000.) I had to quickly apologize to Phil Schiller and my boss had to go to bat for me. It's the province of the each product manager to decide what gets announced both before and after his/her product ships. It's a lesson I never forgot.
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