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Gone so long, I don't know which stereotypes to believe
November 21, 2010 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Work environments in New York v San Francisco. Please help me separate fact from fiction or point out things I might have missed.

Question: Are workplaces, particularly digital design–type places (agencies or the like), in the Bay Area actually less douche-y and more pleasant than in New York? Is there better work-life balance? Is there something else awesome you want to tell me about

Background: I'm beginning to consider moving from New York to San Francisco. I grew up in Southern California, and though I have no interest in going back to LA, going back to California (and being only an hour flight away from my family) might be kinda nice. I do interaction design work, so if anything the possibilities might be better for me out there. Plus my company has an office out there, so I might not need to even find another position. I realized I had some assumptions about what West Coast workplaces were like, so I was hoping you could set me straight.
posted by dame to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Disclaimer: I work in theater.

A designer friend of mine has this to say about working in NY vs SF:

"In New York you walk in and your local crew says, 'Fuck you!' What they really mean is, 'Good morning! How's it going?' but in California, you walk inane are greeted with, 'Hey! Good morning!' and what they really mean is, 'Fuck you!'"
posted by mollymayhem at 3:05 PM on November 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


In my experience (many years going back and forth, but an unabashed NYC partisan), there was much *more* douchery in SF, mostly because the culture of digital agencies there is a lot more homogenous. Work-life balance probably depends more on the particular company than on the region. There are certainly good opportunities in either city for your skill set.
posted by anildash at 3:05 PM on November 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Inane="in and" obviously.
posted by mollymayhem at 3:11 PM on November 21, 2010


I have not worked in either city, but I have known many people who have.

East Coasters seem to care a lot more about appearance and formality than West Coasters. So think about whether you want to work in an environment in which people dress up and call people they don't know well Mr./Ms. [Last Name] or if you want to work in an environment in which lots of people dress casually (sometimes even like slobs) and everyone is on a first-name basis.

Also, marijuana use seems to be more accepted and less secretive on the West Coast than on the East Coast.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:48 PM on November 21, 2010


East Coasters seem to care a lot more about appearance and formality than West Coasters. So think about whether you want to work in an environment in which people dress up and call people they don't know well Mr./Ms. [Last Name] or if you want to work in an environment in which lots of people dress casually (sometimes even like slobs) and everyone is on a first-name basis.

I'm not comparing this to SF since I have no idea, but I never found this to be true in any of the six or so places—businesses as well as schools—that I worked in NYC. Frankly, I find this statement laughable. Maybe this is true downtown at the i-banks, but not in your field—I was working in tech the whole time, in the same places interaction designers were (who I often worked with).
posted by dubitable at 4:29 PM on November 21, 2010


Oh, I see you work in NYC now...so you know what you're getting already...
posted by dubitable at 4:32 PM on November 21, 2010


Well, I've never lived or worked in NY, but I am an LA native who was recently relocated from Los Angeles to SF in online media.

My office is located in the financial district. I find working in the city much more formal than LA, but I imagine working in NYC you would be used to most of the things that I find off-putting about working in the city - less pleasant weather, less casual working environments, paying out the ass for lunch every day. My office is pretty casual, but the financial district as a whole features a lot of well-dressed, well-coifed people, and I think that pressure is felt just working in the area. I agree with the poster above that said work/life balance varies from company to company. The pleasantness of the job have a lot more to do with the values of the company and the people they choose to hire than they do with location, but I suppose you could correlate your happiness at one job or another by the culture of a city and how likely it is that the people in it have similar interests, beliefs and hobbies as you.

If you want to talk people and city culture though, I believe the idea that San Francisco is any less "douche-y" than any other major city is a bit of a myth. In my experience, there are great people and annoying people everywhere. San Francisco definitely has its own brand of privilege and snobbery. It's a different flavor than LA, but it tastes just as repugnant.

I think your best shot at a job you're happy in involves finding a company that feels great in a place that you have personally decided you will be happy in.
posted by amycup at 8:04 PM on November 21, 2010


Kottke (a New Yorker, I think) doesn't have much love for San Francisco as indicated in one of his his previous posts.

I've worked at various studios and agencies here and SF. Never worked on the East Coast. In general, it's quite casual in most environments. Work/life varies from business to business. Because this is a culture where it's "bad" to be judgmental, San Francisco can nurture shocking levels of narcissism in people who should have been called on their bullshit a long, long time ago. Sometimes these people fester their entire careers here and end up being your boss. Avoid this scenario and you'll probably be ok.
posted by quadog at 12:30 AM on November 23, 2010


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