Opinion on "big boring companies"

rewardStyle darkling
Feb 18 26 Comments

As a software engineer in the very general "web development" space, what is your opinion about looking to work at big companies like Cisco, Pizza Hut, Nike, and the like? I know it's a very generalized question, but if you ignore FANG and the flashy startups of the world, what kind of companies are worth shooting for if you're optimizing for learning and career growth, especially for non-traditional applicants? (most of the engineers at my company don't have a CS degree).

A few more more-or-less representative examples:

-Bank of (insert anything here), excluding quant-trading positions
-Macy's/Nordstrom/H&M
-Walmart, Kroger, Costco
-VMware, Adobe, Intuit
-Adidas, Under Armour, Sports Authority
-Ford, GE, Texas Instruments

I could go on, but hopefully that gets the point across. Hit me with any questions, or if I'm just asking the wrong/dumb questions. Thanks people.

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TOP 26 Comments
  • Microsoft UMbR31
    The best learning (and future outlook on TC) will come from companies where the output is software (say, Microsoft). Rather than companies (say, Nike, Instacart) where software is used to support their effort to create a non software output (shoes, deliver groceries). Nike would pay tons for marketing instead.

    This distinction is more important than big-boring vs small-exciting.
    Feb 18 9
    • Twitter CronoSlice
      Then Uber and Lyft are no-go.
      Feb 18
    • Dropbox / Eng 100k🔗🐼
      Or Airbnb?
      Feb 18
    • Bloomberg 21$aVaE
      Are you a cost center or a profit center? I think you have better potential where software is a profit center.
      Feb 18
    • Microsoft UMbR31
      I'd consider Uber Lyft as exceptions. I even interviewed with both. Airbnb is a no go in my mind. It's just a personal outlook.
      Feb 18
    • Dropbox / Eng 100k🔗🐼
      Yeah uber/Lyft’s business depends on the app being good and all that ...but Airbnb’s product is housing. Other than a website (which every business has), I don’t see how tech is a revenue generator there...
      Feb 19
  • VMware ugcnfdjn
    I would exclude -VMware, Adobe, Intuit
    As they are actually SW companies...
    As oppose to rest of list
    Feb 18 1
    • rewardStyle darkling
      OP
      I guess I was just trying to include what some might term "mature" companies, but outside of the darlings of SV zeitgeist. Software is cool with me. I do work in software after all.
      Feb 18
  • American Express D.BCooper
    I worked and managed a team at Kroger.

    It is slow boring and all white but the company wont lay you off. People's entire families work there, kids, dad's, grandparents. It is crazy. If you worked in the store or as a store manager, youre annoited for corporate management.

    CEO is super humble, cheap house and he knew my work personally. Not kidding. I wasnt even that high up. Spoke with him a few times.

    Id find him on late night commercial flights back from Atlanta to Cincinnati. That stuck with me. No other CEO I know does that.
    Feb 19 2
    • Do you know where someone can find the Kroger Pay Levels? I’m Interview for a Senior BA role now.
      Aug 21
    • American Express D.BCooper
      I dont know. They maxed an 8 (i believe it was) at 90-95k?
      Sep 13
  • Square TjLf64
    Great question. Tech is more inclusive than you think. Rather than aim for the non-FANG companies you mention, I'd aim for smaller (50-100 people) high-growth startups with product-market fit. There's a lot more whitespace to grow your career and own your outcome. In those big companies, tech is usually viewed as a cost center so you are always just following orders instead of driving growth. Although that's changing rapidly too.

    My answer assumes that you don't need the incremental security of a stable established company. With a family to feed, one might prioritize stability over growth.
    Feb 18 3
    • rewardStyle darkling
      OP
      As someone at Square, would you characterize your company as such a high growth startup? Or more of a mid size deal ironing thing out? A company like LinkedIn for example (before being acquired by Microsoft) is technically a start up but sure looks like a mid size if not full on corporate company from the outside. Correct me if I'm misinformed.
      Feb 18
    • Square TjLf64
      Square and LinkedIn are public companies, so they favor traditional pathways for most people. They are certainly more open to diverse backgrounds than FANG are. When I say startup, I mean Opendoor, Figma, Airtable, Chime, Omni.
      Feb 18
    • rewardStyle darkling
      OP
      Appreciate that, I think I'll take a look. I'm nontraditional but get shit learned when I need it to get shit done, and proud of it.
      Feb 18
  • New / Eng
    Banjose

    New Eng

    PRE
    MuleSoft
    Banjosemore
    The kind of work that big boring companies do allows a person to pursue other things than a relentless drive for TC. Big boring companies often have very strong wlb perks and literally zero stress. Sure, they may not be as shiny as FAANG but you meet veterans and grow your network tremendously in them
    Feb 18 2
    • rewardStyle darkling
      OP
      That sounds great actually. I've got other things outside of work that I'm prioritizing too. Looking to grow at a place that respects that, which was why I was curious. Appreciate the input. Also, is the relentless drive for TC something you've observed a lot to someone's career detriment? Just curious.
      Feb 18
    • New / Eng
      Banjose

      New Eng

      PRE
      MuleSoft
      Banjosemore
      I think that the drive for TC is bad but I don't think that means it will be detrimental to one's career.

      I know a dozen people who have relocated for a higher TC but hate it because their family is elsewhere. I know that nothing, not even TC, can replace time with loved ones.
      Some of those people who have relocated have actually been offered jobs at higher positions.

      Thus, from my anecdotal experience, pursuing TC isn't the be all and end all.

      I would also think about wealth and how it goes down from generation to generation. Most of that wealth will be expended by generation 3. So this TC rat race is causing harm to nothing but yourself and your loved ones.
      Feb 18
  • eBay
    seat

    eBay

    BIO
    Why did you click on me 😡
    seatmore
    There’s nothing wrong with those companies, they’re just not as visible in the tech world as software isn’t their product. I know that The New York Times has a very talented web team but not very many people are aware of that
    Feb 18 1
    • rewardStyle darkling
      OP
      That's actually exactly why I'm interested. The current hypothesis is I want to find solid teams to grow with, that are outside the hype bubble and/or won't fall over if a funding round falls through next year. Glory and growth is great, but given my table stakes I'll settle for growth.
      Feb 18
  • Intuit gdnf4012
    Intuit definitely most boring full of legacy codebase and not a tech company
    Feb 19 0
  • Little Caesars / HR
    pizza2

    Little Caesars HR

    PRE
    Allegis, Moody's Investors Service, American Express
    pizza2more
    Yes, everyone wants FANG and thinks every startup is a unicorn they are going to ride to the Moon and beyond. I find the people who come from big firms loves the mid level enterprises. The company is big enough to afford the tech without cutting pay/benefits. Small enough people are humble and can contribute across teams.

    I recruit for Little Caesars, our IT team works on LCE and 12 other sister companies software engineering, infrastructure, data analytics, and more. We do it with a shockingly small team that was 20 people 5 years ago and now above 150 and still growing.

    Mid level companies are just as exciting as FANG, and not as boring as a large company.

    Just my thoughts.
    Sep 13 0

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