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Companies to Work at

Recently, the question has arisen "What are some good companies to work at?"

I do know of a few that have a good reputation.

Out of college, I worked at Professional Computing Resources, in Kentwood, Michigan .  The company was founded by a programmer, all the managers are former coders, and the company has a very coder-centric culture.  The Management GETS IT - that's only place I've ever worked at where a Sr. Executive gave me tips on how to automate my unit tests (or improve my process) that actually showed much more deep insight thatn I'd ever had in the problem domain.

Of course, the cubes are tiny, the company only has ~40 employees, they aren't hiring, and they don't rank very highly on "The Joel Test".  But there's _ONE_.

Five more by rep: 
  Microsoft.  Read Joel's Articles on it - but check out for a "grain of salt" viewpoint.


  Captial One Finanical.  (The guys with the no-hassle visa?)  I think they start employees with 3 or 4 weeks of vacation, they have on-campus day care, they are located in Viginia (purty), and they are consistenly ranked in the top 10 IT employers by pretty much everybody.  (I think they made #1 in computerworld's survey at least 2 years in a row.)

  The National Security Administration (NSA) - Typically requires an advanced degree to get in the door.  After 2 years of service, they have a program where they extend your salary so you can go to school for a full year to get ANOTHER advanced degree.  Then again ... this is the government.  Grain of salt warning.

  Google.  Of course, you pretty much need an MSCS to get in the door. :-)

any others?


Matt H.
Thursday, June 20, 2002

Matt, thanks for providing this list.  Unfortunately, I can't get enthusiastic about any of them from your description.  Here are my negative comments  :-}

PCR: Sounds like some good characteristics, but any company that doesn't provide decent facilities for getting work done (i.e. puts developers in "tiny cubes", or cubicles of any size) is one I'll avoid.  The small company size (~40 employees) sounds good to me, though.

Microsoft: Been discussed before.  Might be tolerable place to work.

Apple: Haven't heard about the quality of work environment there.  I'll check it out.

Capital One:  I don't put much faith in the top 10 or 100 lists.  Not being on the list is probably a bad sign, but they don't always seem to consider small companies.  The list creators don't often consider important stuff.  Nothing else that you mentioned is very important.  Still, this could be one to check on.

No Such Agency: Would they be any better than NASA, NOAA or other government agencies?  They're not necessarily terrible places to work, but there seems to be a limit to how good a government agency is allowed to be.  My worst experience was on a NASA contract. For NSA or DOD work, one also has to decide if it is worth putting up with the security hassles.  I've done it and don't want to have to do it again.

Thursday, June 20, 2002

it used to be that hp was a good place. not sure now, given what is happening...

Friday, June 21, 2002

Best Job For Computer Programmers:

"Engine Calibration Engineer for Marine Applications"

I worked for GM automotive engineering for many years.  The guys that do embedded software for marine engines spend most of their time tweaking calibrations.  Basically, they go boating.

Of course, they can't do this job on frozen water so they travel back and forth between Michigan and Arizona like snow-birds to tool around on the lakes.  Sounds an awful lot like retirement to me.

In general, I think all the engine calibration folks got some pretty good assignments.  For example, there was some complaint about car stalls in Hawaii.  It seems that many people would drive up some mountain in the evening to watch the sunset.  There was something about the unique climate coupled with the change in altitude, temperature and humidity that the motors couldn't deal with.

Soooo... GM sent a team of people to Hawaii with a bunch of cars so that they could watch sunsets.  Life is rough.

Engine cal people drew the short straw a lot too.  July in Arizona for hot weather testing, February in BFE Canada for cold weather...  Marine applications definitely seemed the better choice.

I never held a cal jobs, but still there were many a beautiful summer Friday afternoon in Michigan that I drove a convertible Corvette home and I told myself, "I love my job."  The pay wasn't great but the benefits were nice.

However, the MI winters got to be too much for me so I left for our Hughes subsidiary to make cell phones in San Diego.  No more cool cars to drive, but you simply can't beat the weather.

William Frantz
Friday, June 21, 2002

>>> However, the MI winters got to be too much for me...<<<

I'd move back to Michigan if there were some good SW development jobs.  But if the travel is the only good thing about the job, the automotive business may be something to stay away from.

Friday, June 21, 2002

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