Welcome to Part VI, the final entry in the career change series! Here we will talk about other pros, cons, and other random info that I have either failed to talk about or talked about in passing in previous entries.
I really really really wanted to write up a whole separate entry about this, but alas, after some careful thought I had to accept that I wasn't a knowledgeable enough source to cover all the details in depth that this topic demands.
I can, however, recognize, acknowledge, and speak out on a real problem when I see it regardless of experience. Tech has always had an issue with diversity of all sorts, and it continues to be the biggest blemish on the industry. I wish I could speak more firmly on exactly why I thought that was, but it is likely some combination of the usual suspects (prejudices, exclusionary practices, discriminatory gatekeeping, lack of exposure to different demographics among plenty of others) to different degrees depending on the situation.
And unfortunately, there are too many situations like these in the field to think this is all a problem of perception:
Four articles do not a culture make, and I'm no expert. But there are thousands of stories in the news, on blogs, and social media to support these practices exist. Tech has a problem and a little awareness can go a long way.
Pro: Plenty of Differing Company Cultures
The tech community often takes great pride in advertising their commitment to company culture, with each company being unique. While I once again can not speak into great detail as to each of these companies, I can testify to the wide diversity available to you.
Start-up culture is very prevalent tech, giving tech a unique sale point that not every industry has. At any given point in time has one of the most robust start-up communities around, each ready to serenade prospective employees with how inclusive and laid back the atmosphere is.
But start-ups can be inconsistent, very demanding, not at all what they advertise, or even discriminatory towards those that aren't a perfect cultural fit. Some people want a more stable environment that is more traditional in American society, not to mention maybe more stable employment after initial funding has dried up.
If that's what appeals to you, there are plenty of corporate employers to seek employment with.
Tech has a culture for you, even if it may take a while to find it.
In Between: Unique Benefits
I've been trying to plug a few lines about benefits that a lot of tech companies offer that quite frankly trigger a "buyer beware" warning in my head. Here are some of them:
Remote Work - Going to work often seems like the low light of many people's day, even if you rather enjoy your job sometimes the hassle of getting ready or the slightest inconvenience can feel like a tremendous burden at times. This leads many a folk to think it would be great to work from home! But I hate to say, that is a burden in itself. The biggest issue is people underestimate how hard it is to separate your work from your personal life, and maintaining that work/life balance becomes extremely tricky. You can also go stir crazy being in the house all day. remote work definitely has its benefits, but its cons are often overlooked by people who have never done it before. Here is some supplemental reading on remote work for you to read.
Unlimited Vacation - This is a popular advertised benefit that sounds too good to be true. And it largely is. There are a ton of nuances around this benefit as well that vary by company. Let me, an old Union Rep, break it down a bit:
1) Unlimited PTO is impossible. So I immediately feel lied too.
2) They like to advertise "minimum required pto" taken. I don't trust most companies to not penalize me in some way past that minimum unless they prove it.
3) It can actually be great if you get sick, because it is meant to be an all-encompassing benefit. Once again, read the companies policy carefully if this is included.
4) Since it's unlimited you don't actually accrue or earn any PTO, so it can be used as an excuse not to pay you any vacation or severance when you leave even with notice.
I came from an employer where I earned about 6 weeks PTO a year that took me 10+ years to earn. I would happily start right at that point if I trusted a company rather than start back at 2 weeks, but I just don't feel that it's real in many cases.
Equity - Some startups will offer equity as an incentive to help attract talent. This is great when negotiated as part of a complete compensation package. It's not so great when it's used as a tool to negotiate a lower salary because the company is worth too little for those shares to mean much. It's also not cool if your shares can still be forced away from you through layoff or restructuring of your deal before the company is about to get big. Check the fine print on this one.
It's been fun and definitely intense writing this out. My hope is that this series manages to help even a single person make a more confident decision.