Friday, September 08, 2006

The Best and the Worst of Working at Microsoft

The Best:

  • All the cafeterias.... The fresh, diverse and healthy options, the hours of operation (like 6 AM to 11 PM!), the accessibility (there's one in or near every building). Yes siree -- the cafeterias and the food at Microsoft are just about the best things about working there.
  • The beautiful campus. It really feels like an Ivy League college (though I sure don't remember being chaparoned to my classes in cute little white hybrid vehicles!).
  • Yeah, free beverages... all you want, too. Crazy thing is, this includes just about everything (juices, pops, sparkly stuff, all varieties of milk) EXCEPT bottled water. Turns out bottled water is too expensive! (No kidding; I wrote to the powers that be about this and that was their answer.)
  • Cheap software.
  • There are "new mothers" rooms in most buildings, with cozy chairs for breastfeeding and mothering. Thing is, I've never seen a pregnant woman or a baby on campus. Ever.
  • Men get 6 weeks' paternity leave; women get 6 weeks' maternity leave. (See above.)
  • No one cares when I get to work or when I leave or how I spend my days. As long as I do good work, my time and my schedules are non-issues.
  • No dress code -- though I still dress professionally.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (Problem is, he forgot to remind the people he left behind to do good things and to treat each other well.)
  • A Starbucks within steps of my office.

The Worst:

  • My cell doesn't work on campus. In fact, even on the freeway between the campuses cell calls are constantly dropped. Anyone who drives on 520 knows this. Either finish your conversation before you approach Microsoft or wait till after you pass to make the call.
  • Something goes wrong technically in just about every meeting I've been to. No kidding! The IT support at the tiny nonprofit I used to work for was better than Microsoft IT support! More than once, my simple PowerPoint presentation had to be scratched because of technical issues. I've had to wing it because of technical problems! @@
  • All that left-brained, social awkwardness! It absolutely seems like UNFRIENDLINESS, but it's probably more social awkwardness. It's hard to get used to every elevator ride in averted-gaze silence, no matter how friendly I try to be.
  • Contractors are treated like sub-standard, don't-really-count workers. Employees are treated like valued, brilliant professionals. "The lawsuit," of course, is completely responsible. The snooty people themselves are completely innocent.
  • The corporation as a whole is out of touch with the average consumer -- especially the average educator. No teacher will see Vista or have a GIG of memory for YEARS to come!
  • The whole goal of the company for 30 years has basically been to take over the world. To do that, you need a mentality of ruthlessness. It shows.

*Disclaimer to ward off Microsoft lawyers: this is all just the opinion of a lowly worker.

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