Former designer on working at Apple: It’s not that great

February 13, 2014, 1:11 pm Wall St Cheat Street Yahoo!7

Jordan Price used to want to work at Apple, but now, not so much.


"I felt more like I was a teenager working at a crappy retail job than a professional working at one of the greatest tech companies in the world,” wrote mobile software designer Jordan Price of his experience as an Apple employee in an essay posted to the blog Apple Daily.

It is a tale of illusions shattered about the company that transformed the technological world with the introduction of the iPhone and the iPod, which Price says has a less-than-revolutionary corporate culture.

And while his story is but one individual’s experience, it not only gives insight into how poor management and leadership can affect productivity, it also adds a dose of realism to Apple’s public image.

Based on employee reviews at Glassdoor.com — a job recruitment and company rating website — Apple still holds a rating of 3.9 stars, which signals worker satisfaction, although the company did slip to No. 35 on the site’s Best Places to Work list for 2014.

Overall, Apple has collected approximately 2,800 reviews, and a great majority of them are from employees who worked at Apple Stores, rather than at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, like Price.

Related: 10 ways to start your work day right

While the general tenor of the reviews is that working at Apple was a positive experience because the job allows for proximity to “some of the best technology on the planet,” as one reviewer wrote, more than one commenter noted that Apple expected a great deal from its employees.

One reviewer from San Francisco — a former theatre specialist — noted that Apple relies “on ‘paying their employees’ with the privilege of working for Apple” rather than “really taking care of them financially.”

A former finance intern wrote that “the atmosphere at the company is a bit more cold than at other Silicon Valley companies.”

Another commonly reported complaint is the criticism that few opportunities for advancement exist in the competitive nature of Apple’s business culture, with the company selling the idea that employment at Apple is a career experience worthy of offsetting the lack of upward mobility.

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Certain aspects of Price’s experience fit into the composite reality described by reviewers, although his tenure at Apple does appear to tend toward the extreme.

After accepting the position at Apple — which was in reality a contract position — Price expected to find himself embarking on his dream job, even though he took a pay cut.

“I was making a long-term career investment by working for such a prestigious company,” he wrote, per Apple Daily.

Related: What to do on a slow day at work

“In my eyes, Apple is, hands down, the most highly-regarded company a designer could work for.” And that assessment did not change when he started his position as a mobile designer.

But Price found himself unable to concentrate. His immediate boss — known at Apple as a producer — had a habit of delivering insults “shrouded as jokes” and often hovering over Price’s back “like a boss out of Dilbert.”

The boss would remind Price that his contract would not be renewed if he “did or didn’t do” certain tasks. “He was democratic about his patronising and rude comments, but it didn’t make me feel any better when he directed them towards my team members,” writes Price.

To console himself, Price reminded himself that he was working with world-class designers on a world-class product.

But one day, “without so much as a hello, my boss hit me with another weird low-blow insult wrapped up nicely as a joke,” Price said in his essay published on Apple Daily.

“I tried to ignore it and get back to work, and I realised I just couldn’t focus at all on my job. I was too caught up thinking about how I should deal with the situation.” He quit at lunch, wiping his iPad clean of data, uploading his work to the server, and leaving a note informing his boss that he was the worst boss ever.

Related: Things that drive your coworkers crazy

He acknowledged that walking out was not the best way to quit, and in an follow-up note, Price said that many people told him he should have contacted Apple’s human resources department before walking off the job.

“It’s debatable if it would have helped the situation, but I didn’t feel there was anyone to turn to. It was unclear who exactly I even worked for or who I should share my grievances with,” he wrote. “I was contracted by one company, yet paid by another contracting company, and then I worked at Apple. To this day, I never once encountered anyone from HR while at Apple, as I wasn’t technically employed by them.”

The publication of Price’s story follows closely behind Apple’s appointment of Denise Young Smith to lead the company’s human resources department.

As Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told Bloomberg, Smith — who will be replacing Joel Podolny — has been charged with attracting and retaining top talent.

The iPhone maker has seen talented engineers, designers and marketing managers move on to new technology companies or Google and Samsung.

More from Wall St Cheat Sheet:
Cramer: It May Be Time to Show Apple Some Love Again
Study: iTunes Is More Profitable Than Xerox and Time Warner Cable
Apple Names New HR Head

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14 Comments

  1. Richard4 days agoReport Abuse

    Every time there is another news story of some 'maniac' going on a rampage and shooting scores of people, I think of stories just like this Apple experience. And everyone wrings their hands and talk of gun control (a good idea) but the root cause lies in cultures of exploitation and delusion like this one.

    Reply
  2. Devial08:15am Friday 14th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    I've been a apple mac user for 23 years, a great product. However it is difficult not to have the impression lately that apple mac has it head well and truly up its but and not seeing clearly.

    Reply
  3. Leland01:18am Friday 14th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    I thought this article was about "working at Apple". It reads like Price didn't wasn't actually employed by Apple, can't seem to articulate exactly who his employer was, and was abit thin-skinned. DISCLOSURE: I've never used an Apple computer, and just bagged my iPhone for a Galaxy S4.

    Reply
  4. Ron01:11am Friday 14th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    And you wonder why Employees making Apple products in Foxcon in china commit suicide. Their culture must be toxic in all their work environments.

    Reply
  5. Tim41812:41am Friday 14th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Sounds to me like this person had a problem with his specific supervisor, not necessarily the company itself. I personally would have stuck it out a while longer. Managers come and go. At the very least, I don't think quitting abruptly is the right move. You completely burnt a bridge there, and that's never a good thing to do professionally. We certainly all deserve to be treated with respect, and I am not suggesting you should have stayed forever at a job that made you miserable. But there's a right way and a wrong way to handle things.

    Reply
  6. HotBullitt09:09pm Thursday 13th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Quit your moaning and groaning ,, go to your next job at Mc.Donalds already , then you'll know what Slave labor is really all about ......USA USA USA USA !

    Reply
  7. bob08:46pm Thursday 13th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    Forgive the interruption, but I had a rather pleasant experience working with Apple. Yes there were inconveniences, and yes it wasn't a perfect job, but in terms of seriousness, the company paid it's dues on time and without a fuss with decent motivation schemes (which in my country is a rare thing). Furthermore the nature of our work was to provide support for iOS devices, and seriously the uses people make of them, yes there were rules, but in terms of what we were allowed to help these people achieve, compared to other jobs, was actually quite enjoyable. I'm not painting it as pro-Apple, they make a lot of mistakes, but dues where dues be due. The corporate culture with any large company, varies depending on your immediate surroundings, and the nature of your job. You chose to quit rather than confront the insult joke boss, respectfully and professionally of course. and yes would have probably lead to you not working there, but if that's what happened anyways, what did you have to lose. All in all it depends on way too much to just classify a job as bad and clearly too little to sensationalize it because it's a well-known company.

    Reply
  8. ROGORAECK05:48pm Thursday 13th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! Another terrist who hate our "freedom"!

    Reply
  9. Flash05:34pm Thursday 13th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    So typical of American attitude who exploit everything and everybody for their benefit. They use China for super cheap labour ultra fast production for maximum profits because they work like robots and dont complain because even if you have a very justifiable complaint they will replace you. Some time ago when I worked on a project the contractor was sacked by management and an American company who came to finish the contract started treating us like POW's so we stopped work and told management that we wanted the original contractor reinstated otherwise there would be no production and hinted that there might be an "accident" which would c ompletely derail the project which was now behind schedule and running over budget. Story short the Yanks got #$%$ off , the original Aussie mob reinstated and we all got back to what we do best Oi Oi Oi

    Reply
  10. John04:24pm Thursday 13th February 2014 ESTReport Abuse

    You all seem to take a face value that this guy had a genuine grievance. What I see here is a person who just abandoned his employment without making any attempt to resolve the issues he perceived existed. As for it not being clear who he worked for may be the letterhead on his contract or letter of employment could have been a clue. It seems a bit stupid to take a job where you are not sure who your actual employer is. Sounds like poor decision making by this guy all round. I do not like Apple or its products, however it is unfair to condemn the company's culture based on the whines of a few disaffected ex-employees.

    Reply

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