Corporate jobs are worth it because...
February 20, 2018 6:51 PM   Subscribe

Those of you who choose to work at a large corporation and are generally content with your situation, what is it about your job that makes it work well for you and your life? Everywhere I look it's "corporate jobs suck" so I'm hoping to learn from people who don't hate their corporate jobs. Teach me your ways!

I'm considering a switch from the nonprofit and startup sectors into the corporate sector but I've been spooked by the idea that "corporate jobs suck". (Try looking up "reasons to take a corporate job" and the results are almost entirely "how to quit your corporate job now")

I drank the "take risks" and "find a job with meaning" kool-aid for a decade (and have done a lot of good work with good people and learned a ton along the way) but now I'm ready to be done with the lower pay, fewer benefits, and longer hours that have been the norm in my jobs - especially as my partner and I are about to start a family. I only know a few people with corporate jobs and they seem pretty comfortable there. Stable, less crazed/more reasonable workloads, able to provide comfortably for their families, satisfied with their work (they're engineers), and they're generally able to leave work at work. So I have to believe that a healthy relationship with a corporate job is achievable and I'm trying to understand what the difference is between those who are content and those who want nothing more than to get out. If your corporate job is not sucking the soul out of you, why not?
posted by inatizzy to Work & Money (43 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
I like my coworkers, I have decent benefits, I make good money, and work for and with humans who understand that the babysitter gets sick or there’s a snow day or you need to work from home. My work itself is more on the side of good than not. It’s frequently annoying, which is why they pay you to go there, but for work it’s not too bad.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:57 PM on February 20, 2018 [12 favorites]

Best answer: I've worked in startups, non-profits, consulting, government, and corporate. I am firmly of the belief that the overwhelming majority of people who say "corporate jobs suck" either (1) have never worked in one, or (2) are the people who struggle in any place of employment.

Every type of employment has positives and negatives, and certainly every organization has something to complain about. For corporate jobs broadly, you've listed a lot of the positives. I'd sum it up as stability, resources, compensation, and growth potential.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:05 PM on February 20, 2018 [37 favorites]

Best answer: A couple of related extreme pluses are a very professional HR department and carefully laid out, written and consistently applied corporate policies. These are often what leads to work environments that allow normal working hours, family leave/sick time/vacation you can actually use, benefits that are actually useful, salaries that often rise if not faster than at least at the same rate of inflation, protection from harassment, whistleblowing and other HR nightmares, decent health insurance, etc. In addition, large companies are often much more capable of providing professional development resources and opportunities, and being larger, opportunities for advancement.

Not all corporations are even like this, so of course YMMV.
posted by General Malaise at 7:13 PM on February 20, 2018 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I adore my coworkers and my boss is pretty great too. Yes, there is drama and bullshit and drudgery and lip service, will also find that to some extent elsewhere too? Look for a corporate job where the people make you look forward to spending time there and you will be fine.

I came to the realization that my job will never be 100% perfect or what I want, but honestly, what in life is exactly? I have great benefits and the pay is great, so in my mind, taking my job off of this perfect pedestal was enough of an awakening for me to realize that it is there as a means to let me and Mr. Fish live well and enjoy life that is the other main chunk outside of work.

I let work stop defining me and instead view it as just a facet, which is empowering on a good day, and on the shitty days, is a reminder that it's not all of me. In the meantime, taking classes, enjoying non-work hobbies and volunteering fill that part of me seeking meaning.
posted by floweredfish at 7:14 PM on February 20, 2018 [12 favorites]

I worked for a Fortune 100 company for several years. It was fine. Good benefits and I could take vacation without worrying about my duties being covered. The job didn't "suck my soul" anymore than any other of my past jobs. NotMyselfRightNow has it right.
posted by LoveHam at 7:19 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It’s work. I had a super shitty manager, so I moved departments to get rid of her. I show up to a nice office, have the IT department take care of printers and laptop problems, have admin staff and facilities take care of that stuff, have a sales and marketing team to do that, and I just do my job instead of the 73-hats self-motivated bullshit involved in working freelance or at a startup. I like working somewhere with infrastructure.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:22 PM on February 20, 2018 [16 favorites]

I'm paid decently, the 401k with some matching isn't a real pension but it's something, my boss is actually nice to me (vs. the small business where my direct boss alternated between screaming and weeks-long silent treatment and the owner carried a gun and bitched about "the blacks"), and I work with a diverse bunch that transcends not only national borders but also colors, creeds, orientations, and heteronormativities.

Basically, I can call someone out for their racism or transphobia, and my boss will have my back.

(also, there's an actual review/raise process. Twenty years of working and that legend finally materialized.)
posted by notsnot at 7:28 PM on February 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

Okay benefits, and I've transferred around to (and kept seniority) so slightly extra vacation. My work is a little weird that work can be light in one area but stressed out in another, we shift around if managers agree. (Government contractor)
posted by TheAdamist at 7:30 PM on February 20, 2018

Stability. I’ve pretty much only worked corporate jobs and that was because I grew up with my family owning and running a small business. I saw how if luck wasn’t on our side, we literally didn’t eat. My parents drilled into my head not to do what they did, and to get a stable job. So I did.

I’ve never truly been happy with my work however and am hoping I can make some changes in the last couple decades of my career. Fingers crossed. Possibly everyone should do some of both, if they can, just to see what it’s like.
posted by greermahoney at 7:36 PM on February 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I worked as a teacher and now work writing code for an ed tech company.

I love my job because my coworkers are genuinely nice people, my team works well together, management is competent and accountable, they care about professional development, I know my boss has stuck up for me, I'm paid well, I get to work remotely, I have an open vacation policy, the work is interesting, I'm doing good for the world, I can tell that the company cares about race and gender issues in the workplace, and I can move teams internally if I want to try something different.

Versus teaching, there's a lot less weird political pressure. Teaching was also super strict about not taking time off except for vacations. Versus potentially working at a startup, my sense is that with them there's no guarantee that there will be adults in the room, startups have less long-term stability, and the workload would be more likely to come with periods of intense delivery pressure and long hours.

For me, the big thing is being around good people (and not being around toxic people) and in a place that helps me be successful. I know not every company has this, but I think I'm more likely to find this stuff in a corporate setting than elsewhere.
posted by alphanerd at 7:48 PM on February 20, 2018

I don't love my job especially, but I love my co-workers and the company I work for. It's great to have landed, at long last, at a company that is unabashedly profit-oriented that says their employees are critical to their success and actually shows it every day. I've worked for big, medium and small businesses, and find that large, publicly traded companies tend to be the best to their employees.

It can be soul-sucking in the sense that maybe you'd rather be doing something else. At the same time, if you're fortunate your job involves helping your customers or your co-workers accomplish things that help them do their work or live their lives.
posted by lhauser at 7:51 PM on February 20, 2018

My first "real" job was at a non-profit, for about the past decade I've worked mostly for publicly traded corporations.

In the corporate world I feel much more protected. I have better pay, better insurance, a 401K match and more vacation. I get to do work I enjoy, that's meaningful, and I work with people I like and respect. At my current job I can leave at 5.00 and forget all about my job until the next morning. I feel I'm treated like an adult and as long as I get the work done no one cares if I take an extra coffee break.

I've been laid off from both nonprofit and corporate jobs. Corporate layoff meant getting a nice settlement package. Nonprofit layoff meant going behind on my rent.

I've had both bad and good experiences in the corporate world - a lot depends on your relationship with management and whether or not your team is healthy. But overall I'm glad I wound up working for big corporations and I hope to stick with it until I retire.
posted by bunderful at 7:57 PM on February 20, 2018 [4 favorites]

I can't pay my mortgage with happiness. I can't buy food with job satisfaction. I can't retire off of changing the world.

I am a pragmatic person, and for better or worse, money buys happiness. I've found that I am pretty good at making money and I can trade that money for things I want. I really hate meal planning and grocery shopping. So, I don't and use meal delivery services instead because I can easily afford it. Is it wasteful? Absolutely. It does, however, make me happier. I have more vacation days than most non-profits I know of provide and it's within my capability to, say, take a weekend trip to California for relaxation. Without the job I have, I'd not be able to do many of the things that make me happy and I would both be worse at my job and have a worse life.

If I ever decide my job isn't for me, I can always switch to a non-profit career or government work. That said, the opposite does not appear to be true to me - for better or worse, I've never actually hired someone from a non-profit or directly from government work since the people at those jobs never seem to have career impact commensurate with expectations at my work.

I also realize that 96% of businesses fail, and I do not consider myself (anywhere near) the top 4% of entrepreneurs. Given that the only highly successful business owner I personally know effectively dedicates his entire life to his company and doesn't still make significantly more money than me, I don't see a lot of evidence that I can do any better by running my own business. Given that startup employees don't make more money than established corporations and there is no benefit to working at a startup on average, I don't see a reason to switch to a less established company, either.

You might read this to indicate I merely tolerate my job due to its benefits. This is not the case. I love my job because it is challenging and I work with world-class colleagues. I work to solve some of the biggest scale problems in the world - problems that are simply impossible for smaller organizations to tackle. I would take my job at lower pay if it meant I got to work with the people and problems I do. Fortunately, I don't have to do that. Honestly, I don't understand why anyone would object to my approach to work.
posted by saeculorum at 8:02 PM on February 20, 2018 [7 favorites]

A corporate job has a hard limit on the amount it can suck. Yes, your boss might be mediocre and you might not be BFFs with your colleagues, but you'll still get paid on a regular basis, you'll have vacation time, there's a clear annual review process and professional development, if your laptop/desk/lights/elevator/whatever breaks someone else will fix it, if it gets too much you can transfer to another team (generally the corporation would much rather transfer you than have you quit, because hiring is more expensive than most people realize), and if you do get laid off you'll get a nice severance package.

It's also kind of nice to be working on very interesting, intellectually challenging, but decidedly Not Meaningful Projects -- if my project fails it's not like I just doomed puppies to certain death or something, it just means this specific sub-sub-subsystem of widget producing is less efficient.
posted by Xany at 9:30 PM on February 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

'Work is the least important thing I do with my life'
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:35 PM on February 20, 2018 [6 favorites]

Approaching this from a slightly different angle: I'm a manager at a startup where we're still working on the whole "defined career path" thing. Most people manage to get opportunities for promotions and transfers to teams perceived as (but not always necessarily actually) higher level, but it's always based on some unique combination of strong self-advocacy, high performance, special skill, and business need. I actively work to support the members of my team who want to advance and grow through creative ways to navigate the chaos. A few members of my team would really prefer to have a clear, defined achievement path where they automatically move up to X level or role after Y months or years of performance that meets expectations. I think those team members would be happier at a larger corporation where that is the case. Hell, sometimes I think I would, too. Always building things can get a little tiring!
posted by rhiannonstone at 10:06 PM on February 20, 2018 [3 favorites]

I like that my corporate job is largely organized by business principles and not mostly personality driven (it is, of course, not always both of those things).

I’ve worked jobs where I was paid in prestige (and my current job is that, too, to an extent) and that’s a bunch of BS. It’s demeaning and maddening.
posted by vunder at 10:16 PM on February 20, 2018

I used to work at a large corporation, and am now at a small company. Big corporations are structured with structured work hours, benefits, and vacation. If you get a good job with flexibility, the benefits you get (vacation, per diems, etc) are greater than a small company. However, I'm learning a lot more at my small company.
posted by GiveUpNed at 10:33 PM on February 20, 2018

I work at WHQ for a very large corporation.

When I began the interview process this corp was my backup - I was in the pipleline for a couple other jobs and thought that if I went to corp I would become a servant to the man.

On day three I drank the kool-aid. But TBH it depends on your priorities - it certainly does for me. I like money and I like not having to get in my car to get lunch. Now there’s a fantastic lunch place with dozens of choices less than 500 yd from my desk and the money is exceptionally satisfactory.

I like that the commute is less than half an hour each way.

I like that my schedule is very flexible.

I like that I have a real manager rather than a failed senior dev who took his awkward personality into “managing” people.

I like that I have a top of the line MacBook Pro and two giant hi-res monitors and a desk that cranks up and down.

I like drinking wine and playing COD with my teammates and manager on the PS3 in our “focus room.”

I like inexpensive health insurance and matching 401k funds.

I like swag.

I like employee discounts.

I like unlimited free fizzy water.
posted by bendy at 10:48 PM on February 20, 2018 [5 favorites]

Corporate jobs are worth it because... they bring, for the better ones,
i. Money
ii. Benefits
iii. Stability
iv. Career
v. International travel (in style)
vi. Expatriation opportunities

I left one such environment many years ago to go solo because I craved independence, and today I miss the high life.
posted by Kwadeng at 11:14 PM on February 20, 2018 [1 favorite]


I make enough at my corporate job to give some of it away, which is absolutely delightful.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:11 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

I probably work for the same company as bendy does (/waves) and agree with lots of the same things folks above have noted. Here’s one data point: this week I had a cold starting on Monday. I worked from home. Then today (Tuesday) we had snow, plus I was still minorly sniffly. My boss told me to work from home if I wanted. Later in the day, the snow got worse and we got an email saying that tomorrow (Wednesday), campus is closed - which means I have another day to stay home, and guess what? I’ll still be paid my full bi-weekly salary for these days. I have friends who don’t get paid when their workplace is closed, or have a limited amount of sick days and are unable to work from home. They hate snow days because it affects them greatly. I like them because I get to stay home!
posted by girlalex at 1:15 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've complained aplenty about my job in a bunch of questions, so this is a nice chance to talk about the good stuff.
My job pays really well, has good, interesting work that has easily discernible positive effects in the industry, and has good, fairly consistent policies with regard to employee benefits. Leaves are flexible and job security is really, really good.
Would I rather be an author? Yes. Do I think I'll make a fraction of the money I do now as an author? Pretty sure the answer is no.
Boiled down, for me my job enables me to be /do/enjoy stuff after office hours often enough and well enough, that it's acceptable to me.
posted by Nieshka at 1:27 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

You can find/make a niche for yourself in large corporations.

Once you establish yourself as a known quantity, assuming you don't make waves, you can settle in, accomplish your work, and go home, while enjoying the benefits that big corps offer.
posted by squorch at 3:51 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As others have said, corporate jobs often offer more stability, better pay and benefits, and (a big plus for me) clearly defined roles.

I'm a librarian, and I bounced around at a lot of different public libraries both before and after I got my MLS. It was extremely difficult to find a full-time public library job after I got my degree, so I was working part-time at 3 libraries and barely scraping by when I got a full-time offer for a corporate librarian position. The starting pay was, as my public library supervisor noted at the time, more than she made after 25+ years as the Head of Reference and the benefits were comparable. Best of all for me, I don't have to wear the 15 hats I did before - I have one job that I can concentrate on and work on my skills in. I generally know what my day is going to look like before I come into work, and there are far less fires that spring up that need immediate attention. A lot of that is specific to my team and job, but it was the biggest change that I wouldn't have been able to see from the outside.
posted by odd ghost at 4:05 AM on February 21, 2018 [3 favorites]

There’s no founder syndrome in a big corporation. One person’s bad judgment is unlikely to make you suddenly not have a job one day.
posted by lakeroon at 4:29 AM on February 21, 2018

This thread is a refreshing read. I agree with NotMyselfRightNow too; as with any human standpoint, it depends on where the human is coming from.

I've worked for my small-business parents (started when I was twelve, ha), as a cashier in fast food and two gift shops (one in a national park, the other in a shopping mall), then a freelancer for a decade (translation), and have been an IT-slash-business consultant for another decade now. My initial consulting job was with one of the top massive places in France, where I was placed with big corporations – telecoms, transport, energies – and my current consultancy is still small and young enough to be considered a startup, but is also well-known here and has placed me at an insurance place and a bank, both of which are huge.

I'm originally from Oregon and went to the UO, highly regarded for its MBA program. Initially I majored in piano performance, then French, and while there I was one of those vocal anti-corporate, "MBAs suck and are stoopid and bankers are even worse" people. Now I work in a Fortune-mumble bank in upper management, and am the happiest I've ever been.

Stability, professional challenges, a variety of good professional relationships (some of which have become friends), flexibility, being able to create opportunities to make a difference are what I've found in corporate life. I've said it before here, but when I first started out in consulting a decade ago, by chance I read an article by a CEO who had studied Buddhism in Japan. He had thrown away everything and gone to live there. At one point he asked a monk what he should do with his life, since all he'd known was the corporate world but found it soulless, and the monk replied something along the lines of, "what better place to bring your soul?"

I've had rough goes of it as well, but anywhere with human beings will contain flawed human beings. Remember where I started working? I grew up with abusive parents who ran their own businesses; they're the ones who had me working for them at age twelve. Toxic environments can spring up even with the best of processes; I've seen it happen. Likewise you don't need a highly formal HR process to make a workplace good, though of course it can help when done well. The vast majority of my interactions with HR have been positive.

The salary and benefits are great and allow me to have a life outside the office.
posted by fraula at 4:34 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

Consistent pay, Flexible hours, good benefits, great co-workers and the opportunity to learn new things. My work has never had the clock in, clock out mentality of so many of my friend’s workplace, never the strict only take time you have earned so far mentality. All my vacation and sick time I could take in January if I wanted. It is nice to have consistent pay and not have to worry about being short because I only got 35 hours in during a pay period.
When I needed it, short term disability helped keep me financially stable until I got back on my feet.
It gave me the flexibility to be home when my kids needed me or to leave early to take them to the doctor or dentist and now I can work from home many days and that gives me the benefit of being home with my love, who is battling cancer.
The job environment is not always rosy, there are jerks and salary freezes and good people laid off. I know the company at a high level does not personally care about me But I am ok with that. The ability to retire is not that far off and I have plans. My corporate job is helping me finance those plans.
posted by ReiFlinx at 4:39 AM on February 21, 2018 [1 favorite]

You don't have to wonder if your paycheck will bounce. If you don't like what you're doing, you can transfer to a different department. Relatedly, if you move to a different city, there's a possibility of remaining with the same company. If you do leave the company, it's not personal and you won't feel like you're hurting anyone's feelings. And when you tell someone where you work, they don't make you explain the company's entire history to them so they can get an idea of what you do. If you don't like your actual job and you don't want to tell casual acquaintances what you actually do, you can just say "I work at Megacorp" and they can use their imagination.

I mean, corporate jobs do suck. It's just that all jobs suck, and corporate jobs suck in ways that are less painful to certain types of people.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:37 AM on February 21, 2018 [5 favorites]

A lot of what I would say about corporate jobs is above, but one other thing I've noticed - if you're a "work to live" person, I have found so long as you're not trying to climb the ladder to CEO it's very easy to avoid the "your work must be your passion" type people. A lot of people in corporate jobs are looking to do good work the hours they're paid to be there, no more and no less. I found in NFPs in particular, there was an implicit requirement to have your work define you that was refreshing not to be pressured into anymore.
posted by notorious medium at 5:46 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

There's no such thing as "corporate jobs"; each one is different. My best and worst work experiences have both been for corporations. At one I was in a semi-autonomous department with a boss who was totally on the side of his employees and defended them against management; at the other it was do-more-and-more-work-till-later-and-later-and-don't-get-anything-wrong-or-you're-fired, and it nearly killed me (but I made more money than ever before or since). Get rid of your preconceptions, forget the "corporate jobs suck" meme, and look at each possibility on its own merits. (And sign up for the retirement-savings packages!)
posted by languagehat at 6:10 AM on February 21, 2018

I would echo what everyone is saying above, but to add an anecdote, I've done both. I worked at a corporate job for years, then left and went to a non-profit for 5 years. It paid less, had no career path, and offered a similar level of political bullshit. I went there thinking I would be working for an organization that did good. The longer I was there, the more jaded I got. I saw them not take care of their employees, do things that didn't make sense for the mission, mismanage their funds, and actually do some questionable things. After 5 years I came back to my old corporation. They have all the benefits listed above, they really do take care of their people, and the company I work for actually does a lot for the community. They encourage volunteering, they donate tons of money to organizations and causes I believe in, they fundraise for local food pantries, and they even give me extra vacation days for donating blood. Sure, they make money, but I also feel like they are making more of a difference in the world than the non-profit was. And as a bonus, my life outside of work is better, too.
posted by thejanna at 6:40 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Infrastructure. Christ, do I miss the infrastructure. There's nothing like having IT basically shrug at you when something important is broken.
posted by praemunire at 8:16 AM on February 21, 2018

Response by poster: What a relief to hear from so many of you about the good parts. It’s comforting to hear my own pragmatism reflected in your comments. I’m taking that as a good sign. I have some renewed hope that a better work situation really is possible.

I’ve marked a few “best” that stood out for me but the whole thread has helped me gain a new sense of clarity about what I can aim for. Thanks everyone.
posted by inatizzy at 8:44 AM on February 21, 2018

Sane work hours. Nothing is more important, and I've done the work for a start up that is going to change the world by using tech to bring food to needy kids thing.
posted by xammerboy at 9:21 AM on February 21, 2018

I can pay my bills consistently. If I mess up on something or gasp take a sick day, it's not the end of the world. IT works, the building is clean and safe and has free parking, people are generally decent to each other. Paid vacation. Lots of opportunities to take on more responsibility without being forced to. These all seem like basics, but many startups and nonprofits can't offer them.
posted by miyabo at 10:20 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I started my career in non-profits and still remember how thrilled I was to arrive in corporate America. Not only was I taken seriously and paid adequately, I was rewarded for exceeding my job expectations! I was even promoted! Not to mention that we had things like letterhead and enough pencils and we got bonuses and swag and even the occasional meal out.

I also found corporations to be way more egalitarian and less political than non-profits. That's not to say they don't happen, but the focus was always on the bottom line and serving our customers, not on silly, pointless feuds or grandstanding.

I have my own business now, but I do miss the structure and support of corporate life quite a bit.
posted by dancing_angel at 11:50 AM on February 21, 2018 [2 favorites]

It is not just the money I get to take home, but generally I have the money to do my job - if you're coming from non profit you will know what I mean. Having a decent program budget is the best.
posted by smoke at 11:51 AM on February 21, 2018

I worked at a Fortune 50 company for 8 years, and worked as a consultant in other corps, both bigger and smaller. My observation is that working for a very profitable company is way better than working for one that is stagnating, or otherwise in turmoil. In the latter, any stability you might think you have is an illusion.

One of the reasons my corporate job ended was that I was unwilling to uproot my family and move to Texas or Kansas to take a position in a different division of the conglomerate. We also observed people who found advancement blocked as a corporation worked to manage extra headcount after a series of mergers. A corporate employee can find himself "spun off" into a smaller entity or sold to a different corporation entirely.
posted by SemiSalt at 1:26 PM on February 21, 2018

I work for a large corporation, and I work from my home - there are no co-workers for many hundreds of miles, and I like it like that. I have access to all of the medical/dental/pension benefits I need. No problem to take a few hours off and make them up later. This corporation in particular tries to woo its employees: it offers university tuition grants to offspring of full-time employees, and further, offers to help with the charity of one's choice, either by matching donations or granting funds according to volunteer hours recorded. There is a mental health assistance program. There is lots of concern over treating everybody as equals - discrimination of *any* sort is strongly discouraged. Of course there are angles I don't care for, like corporate-speak and pleasing the shareholders, but that stuff can generally be overlooked in the greater scheme of things as long as the company is not being shitty in general. If it were manufacturing guns or decimating rainforests I would not be hanging around.
posted by fish tick at 8:30 PM on February 21, 2018

Best answer: I recently made the switch to working for a large corporation after years of working for nonprofits and smaller companies. In addition to all the advantages mentioned above, one advantage that I did not expect is that you have more time for focused work where you are building expertise and not feeling pulled in a bunch of directions. When you work in the nonprofit or startup space, it's typical to have way more responsibilities than are listed in your job description. While this can be fun and exciting, I'm finding that doing focused work that is very closely tied to my job duties is pretty rewarding at the end of the day.

Feel free to message me if you have questions about making the switch!
posted by JuliaKM at 4:24 AM on February 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I started my career at a consultancy, which was one kind of corporate - long hours, good pay, travel, but stressful. Then I worked in various flavours of advertising and digital agencies for the next decade, which had lots of cool perks but the work/life balance, money, career progression, learning and, honestly, a lot of the work kind of sucked.

I gave it up last year to go to a financial services firm, doing what I used to do for digital agencies but for the technology function in-house . It's been probably one of the best things I've ever done for my overall happiness, health and lifestyle.

The money is better, the hours are light years better and the work is often actually more challenging, from a complexity and new skills point of view. I have learned an absolute ton in my first year. One thing that surprised me, coming from an agency background, was how diverse my new company was - loads of folk from all over the UK and the world, lots of senior women in the tech function, plus a huge mix of personalities, ages, outlooks on life and life stages. It made me how much my previous workplaces had skewed white, middle class, young and nerdy.

So the start of my career and my current job are both 'corporate', but couldn't be more different. I will say one thing - when you move from any sort of super demanding, self-starter type role, whether in agencies or non-profits, you will most likely have a moment early in a corporate job where you freak out a bit and wonder if you've done the right thing. I find reading this essay about Sick Systems a good counter to that kind of Stockholm syndrome valorisation of my previous work.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:51 AM on February 22, 2018

Things I like about my corporate job:
- Infrastructure. There are departments of people whose job it is to do things like sorting out network problems, moving PCs, booking hire cars and hotels, replenishing the stationery.
- There is an explicit pay scale. If I have the same job title and band as someone else then I get paid the same.
- If I do overtime I get paid for it.
- Our management are largely promoted for their competence at management and as such are pretty good at it.
- Everyone understands that it's a job. The business isn't a hugely personal thing that people need to get emotionally invested in and have mega drama about. Professionalism is a thing.
- Nobody is trying to make up for the organisation's failings by paying us off with nerf guns or friday beer.
- I like having a much wider community of people working on similar challenges, so we can all learn from one another. It feels much less isolating.
posted by quacks like a duck at 5:39 AM on February 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

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