Apple Careers: What You Need to Know

Apple is one of the most well-known companies in the world and has over 130,000 employees. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple was founded in 1976. Steve Jobs served as the public face and spokesperson for many years and is credited with being the visionary behind Apple’s many leading products. Today, the company generates billions of dollars in revenue while still setting a standard technologically. For these reasons and many others, scores of people want to work at Apple.

At Blind, we are in a unique position to provide some insights about what it is like to work at Apple because 7,000 employees there use our anonymous online network and many are active daily. Within this article, the questions and answers first present some general facts, and then there are comments from people on Blind who work at Apple, and other high-tech companies.

How can I get a job at Apple?

It depends on what kind of job you want because Apple employs a wide range of talented people. There are over 500 Apple stores in about 24 countries, for example. If you want to work in the corporate branch of the company, the interview process for some applicants has lasted months with multiple online and in-person interviews. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, you might have a similar experience. Patience and persistence are required because Apple can afford to be very selective.

Apple makes products that many people don’t just use, they love them. If you can show your Apple love by learning as much as you can about the products like the iPhone, laptops, desktops, monitors and software that should help your case.

Along the same lines, if you have created your own venture like a startup or have generated content to help others use Apple products like blogs or explainer videos and developed a following you will have a better chance of standing out. If you have ideas about how to improve Apple products or have made your own hacks, that might be beneficial too.

Another difference maker is getting a referral from a current Apple employee. If you don’t know anyone who works there, try going through your personal and online networks to reach someone who does. LinkedIn can also be a good resource.

You also might try asking for a referral on Blind, it’s a fairly common practice on our platform. This is an example from someone at the beginning career stage, “I’ll be getting my BS in Computer Science from a highly ranked school in Spring 2019. Got a few internship experiences over the past couple of years. I’ve applied to over 25 roles on Apple’s website in the past month or so but haven’t heard regarding any of them. Would really appreciate referrals for teams I’ve applied to such as Siri, iCloud, Maps, Music, Notes, and anything else that has iOS dev teams as that’s what I’m really interested in pursuing. TIA.” Jul. 24, 2018

Insights from Blind

“As a former Apple employee that’s given probably a hundred interviews, I can say that the hiring there is biased towards specialties. If you are a generalist then you don’t really stand out. They have a line of people wanting to get in, and the job requires a specialist because of their concept of “category 1” (that you own the things you work on and can be influenced by others but ultimately it’s your work area to make your life’s work), and you might work on that same thing for years. You need to make sure that area is something that’s your passion and that the enthusiasm shows in the interview.” Aug. 6, 2017 (read more here)

“One telephonic + 7 rounds face to face + 2 weeks for a coding challenge + 1 more telephonic because this person was too busy to show up on on-site day…… then verbal offer…::.then approval process for 6 weeks ….then hr called me today because of some re-org we don’t know where we should put you so one more manager wants to take interview!” Jan. 16, 2019 (read more here)

“I actually thought it was much easier to get an offer from Facebook and Google than Apple.  When I was a new grad a year ago, all I had to do to get an offer from FB or G was LeetCode. Interview questions were predictable. I actually saw all my FB questions from LeetCode. My interviews at Apple were much tougher. I felt “thank god I learned this at school” after my interviews. I was asked a series of questions on OS, TCP stack, distributed systems, concurrency, cryptography and of course some straightforward algorithm.” Nov. 21, 2018 (read more here)

How is the compensation?

The average salary is about $123,000 according to PayScale, but it can vary widely depending on what role you take. Some non-technical contractors will obviously make less than senior software engineers and executives.

Insights on Blind

For a QA engineer role, a Blind user estimated the salary would be: “120k base, 85k RSU.” ( RSU is Restricted Stock Units.) Aug. 27, 2018

Another Blind user wrote an Apple offer was made of “160k base, 160k stocks, 30k joining,” for a technical product manager role. Jul. 19, 2018

For a question about an appropriate total compensation for a senior engineering program manager position, “Base of 185-190k here, getting ~$3700×2/mo after 10% 401k and 10% ESPP + health insurance” was the response from one Apple employee on Blind. Nov. 18, 2018

“I got an offer from Apple media products team as a senior software engineer in Cupertino. The base is 185k, singing bonus is 100k, stocks 283k vesting over 4 years.” Jun. 14, 2018 (read more here)

A Marcom contractor at Apple on Blind wrote, “I currently earn a salary of $190,000. Plus, through my vendor, I receive PTO, vacation, health & dental and 401k.” May 24, 2018

How are the perks?

Like the other tech giants in Silicon Valley, Apple provides its employees with some enticing perks, but at Apple they are not as lavish as the ones at Facebook and Google. If you like Apple products and are an Apple employee you will probably be happy with the product and software discounts which have been reported to be 25% and 50% off retail price.

Generous paid leave for new parents might be more alluring to employees who are expecting babies and Apple provides both paid and unpaid time off. The free shuttles and a commuting stipend might appeal more to others. In general, food at the Cupertino HQ is not free, but it is affordably priced and is reputed to be high quality. (Depending on what work team you are on, there might be some free meals.)

 Of far more significance is the fact that some part-time Apple employees are eligible for benefits.

Insights on Blind

“Apple does not pay for outside GYM memberships, in fact you have to pay a small fee to use the campus GYM.” Jan. 31, 2018 (read more here)

“BTW, the Apple gyms are pretty nice with a good variety of fitness classes. And for less than 10 bucks per paycheck, it’s a great deal. Sure it could be free, but for the quality, it’s well worth it.” Jan. 13, 2018 (read more here)

“Snacks and beverages are free depending on your org. Not across the company, but they are free at my org.” Sep. 25, 2018

“There are plenty of shuttles covering both far away cities (like SF, or East bay cities) but also small shuttles for neighboring cities like Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc. That run every 30 min or so. if you’re joining Apple, you can openly ask your recruiter for a pdf with all the routes and times.” Aug. 1, 2018 (read more here)

“Apple matches donations by employees one-for-one, up to $10,000 per year per employee. Recently, for certain natural disasters, they’ve matched two-for-one (for each dollar an employee donates, Apple donates $2). I like this because it gives employees the power to decide what charities Apple donates to. They will also match dollar amounts of gifts (such as gifts donated to a holiday toy drive), and donate $25 for each hour an employee volunteers for an organization.” Nov. 22, 2017 (read more here)

How is the company culture?

One of the main aspects of Apple culture is that employees often feel they are making a difference in the world by trying to create the very best products. Work teams are usually small so employees can be flexible, independent and creative. 

Steve Jobs put it very concisely when he said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Apple employees are granted freedom within the company culture so their ingenuity and imagination are not limited.

At Apple the emphasis is on getting work done, not on internal politics. Taking individual responsibility for getting tasks completed is another aspect of Apple’s culture. Maintaining tight secrecy, especially for product development, is another essential facet. Unlike some of the other tech companies, Apple has been in business for over 40 years, so it has had a very long time to study what works culturally.

Insights from Blind

“A friend of mine recently joined Apple and the most repeated words in her 3 weeks so far have been “secret” and “confidential”. Even while getting knowledge transfer sessions from people in the same team! I can understand hardware teams working in a shroud of secrecy. But why software, that too among internal teams?” Jun. 7, 2018 (read more here)

“The vast majority of my career with Apple has been fulfilling, both personally and financially. There’s more to my Apple job than the work I do and the salary I get paid. There’s also the amazing team with whom I work, and the important, influential work that we do that touches so many lives. There’s satisfaction, and a sense that my work is in service of a larger, noble goal. I didn’t think this experience was possible based on my experience with other companies. Apple made it possible for me.” Dec. 30. 2017 (read more here)

Will working at Apple help my career?

Apple careers are not just like any other work experiences. Apple is a global brand known for having top-notch employees. If you have been successful at Apple, you might be in demand at other high-tech companies or even in other industries. The value isn’t limited to your career though. Depending on your age, you might be thinking of going back to school to get an MBA, JD or other advanced degree.

Being able to use Apple in your job application will most likely improve your chances of being accepted into such a degree program.

 Apple careers can also be a distinguishing factor if you work in design because Apple is very well-known for the aesthetics of its products. Steve Jobs instilled his personal values like simplicity, elegance and user friendliness into the company culture. If you were to work on product development or design at Apple, it might be a career-making experience. Finally, an Apple career might be the place and time in your life when you meet colleagues who you will go off with to start your own company.

Insights from Blind

“At Apple (and perhaps at any big company) it’s totally team dependent and your experience can vary widely. As a rule of thumb, newer teams (say working on machine learning, AI, computer vision) are better in some way as there is less baggage from the past. But even those teams can be led by old timers at Apple with no domain expertise in those areas and that can be a frustrating experience.” Sep. 9, 2018 (read more here)

“As far as the team I’m on (AppleCare-Training and Development), I love it. The workload can be heavy and the hours long, especially around product releases. But there are also times when the load is lighter, and work-life balance shifts more toward the “life” side. I’m blessed to be on a team of high performers who are all committed to doing a good job and all believe that the work we do is important. We collaborate, share ideas, help each other out, work hard in the trenches, and take pride in the quality of our work.” Jan. 12, 2018 (read more here)

What employee issues are there?

One of the biggest issues is employee burnout because of the intensity of the work, and some employees have noted a lack of work-life balance in some roles. For workers with families, a lack of this balance can impact their quality of life.  Another issue is that the office environment has been described as dull and lacking in recreation options. Even though many Apple employees are well-paid, if you consider the workload and stress, the pay might not be enough to retain some staff.

Insights from Blind

“I have to raise my voice here, in SWE, one of my previous group, guys are bully towards me. I am a female experienced engineer. I reported to HR, then HR covered them. And point the finger to me. Classic backlash of meToo movement. I also report sexual harassment in this group before.” Aug. 4, 2018 (read more here)

For Apple employees who are not in Cupertino, they might not be as satisfied, “Yes, it feels like a 2nd class citizen. Some Apple buildings in Sunnyvale are just plain and uninspiring, not only that, they hire a lot and start putting 2-3 employees in one tiny cube. Quite disappointed coming from Adobe where the office is artsy, pleasing, aesthetic and open to everyone. I can’t even get to some events relevant to my job because I am not a President.” Jun. 14, 2018

A Blind user and Apple employee gave some advice about how to improve management: “Focus on your Employees: Target any manager or director who’re stuck in same role for more than 2-3 years or has way too many people reporting to them. Such managers don’t know either how to enable their team to be successful or they’re taking it easy. Present them an option for down-leveling to a non-management role or offer severance.” July 26, 2018

How much is housing in Cupertino?

As you might expect, housing is very expensive; the median home price is over $2,000,000. A studio apartment can cost $2,000 a month or more and a houses are much more. Shared living situations like renting a room are the cheapest option, but they can still cost $1,000 a month.

What are some of the advantages/disadvantages for Apple careers?

Apple is a very well known company around the world and working there might be a great advantage in terms of resume building and making contacts. You could also work in multiple locations and roles within Apple because it’s a huge company. There really aren’t many disadvantages except for the high cost of housing in the Bay Area if that’s where you’re located. Some tech workers can’t afford a home in this region of the country but you could work for Apple somewhere else if you desire.

What is there to do in Cupertino?

Cupertino has a population of about 60,000 and is near many similar-sized or smaller towns. One would probably call Cupertino’s culture suburban because it is not far from San Jose, which is one of the most populous cities in California. It has many stores to serve the local residents and well over 20,000 community college students at De Anza College. Apple has over 10,000 employees working in this small city, so it is dominant.

The local population is very diverse and caucasian people are not the largest group. Because of this fact, you can find a range of different foods and shops rather than the only standard chain offerings. There are also hiking trails like the ones at Rancho San Antonio and they are popular with many locals who like the outdoors and want to exercise.

Is there public transportation?

Yes, the Santa Clara County Transit Authority provides regular bus service within the city and to neighboring ones. There is a train station close by in Sunnyvale and Apple has its own shuttles for employees. There are also bike lanes and trails for riding bikes.

How diverse are the employee ranks?

About 43% of the employees are people of color and one-third or slightly less are female.

How is the food in Cupertino?

Some of the top-rated restaurants are:

Red Hot Wok
Bento Express
Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas
Hero Ranch Kitchen
Alexander’s Steakhouse
Holder’s Country Inn
Lazy Dog Restaurant
Bobbie’s Cafe

For groceries, there is an Asian foods store called 99 Ranch Market,  a very large Whole Foods and a Sprouts.

Image Credits: Daniel L. Lu, Apple HQ, No changes made, CC BY-SA 4.0, Justin Ormont, Steve Jobs Theater, no changes made, CC BY 4.0.

Leave a Reply