Everyone seems to think that just because you work at a tech company, your every day life is all about relaxing on multi-colored beanbag chairs, eating free gourmet food, playing ping-pong, and occasionally whipping up some code that solves major problems.
I’ve worked in the tech industry for over a decade, and I’ll tell you that its been a crazy ride filled with a lot of ups and downs. More down than up if I’m being truly honest.
Here are just a few examples based on my own experience why working in the tech industry isn’t as great as most people think.
Ready for a day of fulfilling and inspiring work that has massive impact?
Better strap your reality googles on, because a typical day working at a tech company might look something like this:
Wake up, get dressed, and commute to your office which is between 20–60+ minutes from your home. The roads and highways are already crammed with other people doing the same thing. Once you finally make it to your building, you’re herded into a cubicle, office, open floor plan, or some other “common working container”, even though most of your real work gets done without the constant distraction of other people.
For 20% of your day, you work on a microscopic task that is part of a much larger project, of which you don’t know its true utility or lifespan. For the other 80%, you’re stuck in pointless meetings which go over a never ending list of changes and improvements to your work, accelerated deadlines, or why your project’s funding will be cut next quarter.
At the end of your work day, you rush out of the office hoping to maximize your time at home. Sorry, but your return commute isn’t any better as it’s filled with several thousands of people competing to get home before you do. Once you do get home, you’ve got a few hours to eat, decompress, and catch up with your family before going to bed and doing it all over again tomorrow.
Pretty glamorous, right? At the end of the day, a job in tech is still a soul-crushing corporate job.
There’s always someone new
Tech is #1 in employee turnover rates. Higher than the retail sector which is notoriously known for its traditionally high rates of employee churn.
That means that a retail employee working an overtime Christmas shift at Bloomingdales is likely to last longer than a computer programmer at a computer gaming company who probably makes twice or three times as much.
A high turnover rate also means that your fellow coworkers, whom you’ve developed deep relationships with and have gotten really accustomed to being around for 8+ hours a day, are more likely to leave your tech company for greener pastures and be replaced by someone new.
New people with different personalities, working habits, senses of humor, smells, food preferences, and quirks.
Considering that you spend more time with the people at work than with people at home, you should want closeness with your co-workers, right?
Of course, this is not accounting for the fact that you yourself may uproot from your current tech company and find work somewhere else. Finding your place inside of an organization can be difficult especially when you’ve got to adapt to new cultures, standards, and routines.
In my experience, social relationships in the workplace are far more important than the actual day-to-day work. Remember, these people are your confidants. Your mates in the trenches. The people you’ll share life stories and plans with. And the ones who stand beside your ideas when no one else will.
Developing good relationships take time and effort, making it difficult when people quit and you’ve got to start building those relationships from scratch.
If you work at a Fortune 500 tech company, odds are that you probably live in, or adjacent to, a major city.
The average cost of rent in Los Angeles is $2200+.
In San Francisco, it’s $3400+.
Ok, so you decide that you won’t live in the city. You’ll find a place to live in a nearby suburb only 45 minutes away. Don’t underestimate the psychological impact a daily commute has on your motivation, creativity, and most importantly, your time. Big tech companies realize this, and Facebook even offers bonuses for living close to their campus.
But your job in tech makes a 6-figure income, so that solves all these problems right? Maybe, if you want to live like Ebenezer Scrooge. After you account for the higher costs for food, clothing, fuel, utilities, services, taxes, and other things living in a big city comes with (like keeping up with the Jones’), how much do you really have left over for yourself?
The tech industry doesn’t care about you. Seriously.
Do you think the tech industry really cares whether or not what they create actually benefits the consumer, or how it affects our behaviors or mental capacity?
The biggest tech companies in the world are designing and creating platforms that enable consumption, but not in the ways that we would all hope.
My experience working in tech is similar to working at a meat processing plant. Once you’ve seen how a hot dog is made from end-to-end, it can’t be unseen. A majority of services the tech industry focuses its efforts on (targeted advertising, attention-grabbing content, etc) isn’t necessarily healthy or beneficial for its consumers. But its tasty, keeps you from complaining, and keeps you buying.
All the distractions that are placed in front of your eyeballs every single day are eating away at your attention span and your intelligence. Tech giants are nearing 1 trillion dollars in market capitalization, which is bigger than the GDP of several countries. Not to mention that they employ the best and brightest people from every corner of the globe. Yet, we still struggle with looming problems like global warming, sustainable energy, and a healthy food supply.
These days, its hard to go a few minutes without checking your phone or being connected to the Internet in some fashion. The technology that humans have created is incredibly amazing and powerful, but we’ve used it to tap into human psychology and our innermost desires, mainly to sell more stuff. Whether on purpose or not, tech companies have created a new human addiction which didn’t exist before.
It’s this addiction that also fuels the tech industry to invent new methods that are specifically designed to capture as much of your attention, for as long as they can. Its a sad cycle that we are perpetuating not only for our generation, but in future generations as well.
Sure, the Internet is filled with lots of useful information which we can all use to enrich and beautify our lives. But how many of us actually use the Internet for that purpose? Most of the time we spend on the Internet is basically consuming content on social media or streaming platforms which add little to no benefit our lives.
The tech industry doesn’t care about you. It simply wants you to pay attention long enough so that you’ll buy something.