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The Living Dilbert? 459

Posted by Cliff
from the is-your-superior-a-PHB dept.
AirmanTux asks: "Next march I will be separating from the US Air Force, after six years wearing 'the uniform', working in the closest thing to IT that the military has. For certain reasons, I've come to the conclusion that I will be more effective in serving the US public out of uniform than in it. There seems to be a common belief that the civilian sector is just as disorganized and mismanaged as the uniformed services. Do you think this is true? Are there any 'honest' places to work any more (where promotions/awards are based on work preformed and bureaucracy, and politics aren't encouraged to supplant the 'mission), or has America become one big living Dilbert strip?"
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The Living Dilbert?

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  • usajobs.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by geekylinuxkid (831805) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:34PM (#15511299) Journal
    did you try searching for a GS job at usajobs.com [usajobs.com]? I plan on getting a GS job when my enlistment is over. if you have a clearance try clearancejobs.com [clearancejobs.com]. hope that helps.
    • Air Force IT (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Mr. Joe Himself (944811) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:47PM (#15511345)
      I happen to be in the Air National Guard currently and am well on my way to making it my career, though not in IT. I have my Master's Degree in Computer Science, and had the privledge of doing my research work with the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. I can tell you with a great amount of certainty that the driving forces between government and public IT are worlds apart. In Air Force/Government IT, there is little motivation to strive to learn more skills. Pretty much anyone can enlist into a technical field and they're all put through the same relatively short, simple training. In my opinion, they're amateurs on an unjustified power trip. There is significantly higher motivation for learning new skills in the public sector because it will actually make a difference for the individual. When you become invaluable, your status and pay reflect that, generally, in the public sector. Definetly not so in government positions. I do completely agree that an individual with a strong desire to learn and expand skills and knowledge can be of immense use in the public sector. However it takes a supernatural kind of driving force to penetrate the mundane aura of government IT.
      • Re:Air Force IT (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        In Air Force/Government IT, there is little motivation to strive to learn more skills.

        True and sad enough.

        Pretty much anyone can enlist into a technical field and they're all put through the same relatively short, simple training.

        Again, so true. Some people come thru it pretty knowledgeable though (those tend to be the ones that already had a good understanding, prior experience or the like), but there's a bunch of "not so good" ones too... (although it seems every job has its share of incompetent folks sti
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 10, 2006 @11:35PM (#15511610)
        In my opinion, they're amateurs on an unjustified power trip.

        First of all, my hat's off to all who have served our country in the military, but something is very, very strange and wrong going on with the way the AF and Army train their IT folks and what quality of actual usable knowledge, experience and attitudes those people have when they leave the service and apply for their first civilian IT jobs after leaving the service. I used to be a hiring manager for an organization that primarily did systems integration, installations and support for state and local government and we interviewed a lot of newly ex-mil IT applicants and the above statement generally hits the nail right on the head. Of course there were exceptions to the rule, but by and large it seemed like most of these applicants got very little broad-coverage training in the real IT world, but instead were all pidgeon-holed into little isolated sub-sections of IT training and knowledge without being able to be immediately competant at the "big picture" without substantial re-training and what I'd call "reverse brainwashing". Yet every one of them thought they knew it all better than everyone else, and one of the most common answers in the interview questions about where they saw themselves in 3 to five years of working for us was "to become the senior manager/director of the whole IT department"... in other words to run off the existing boss and take over. Wrong answer.

        Amateurs on an unjustified power trip indeed.

        We did hire a few of these over the years and they turned out to be some of the worst IT employees we ever had. A recurring theme was a lack of respect for proper software licensing. One particular worst offender would take a master copy of the full corporate MS Office Professional edition and install it on every desktop he touched regardless of whether the customer had purchased the full version for that machine or not. Of course the end-users loved it, but when the tech was confronted with what he was doing he said that he knew he would not be the one getting in trouble for it, but rather his boss would and the sooner he could get the boss in trouble or fired, the better chance he thought he'd have to move up, take over and "rule with an iron fist".

        I'm posting A/C because now my company considers ex-military IT techs at the very bottom of the list when hiring due to too many problems we've had with them in the past. We actively discriminate against them due to getting burned too many times.

        The best quality IT folks we've been hiring the past couple years now come from two radically different groups of people. The first group is the young Computer Science geeks right out of college who are still trainable/mouldable before they can pick up too many bad habits, and the second groups is older college degreed people (late 30's to early-mid 40's) who have had one non-IT professional career for a while (but were above-average proficient as technology users) and then have gone back to school to get their CompSci or MIS degrees and have changed careers to the IT field.
        • Of course the end-users loved it, but when the tech was confronted with what he was doing he said that he knew he would not be the one getting in trouble for it, but rather his boss would and the sooner he could get the boss in trouble or fired, the better chance he thought he'd have to move up, take over and "rule with an iron fist".

          Sounds like you've got an axe to grind.

          You see, I agree with this part: "Yet every one of them thought they knew it all better than everyone else..."

          In the military everyone yo
          • But there just isn't that much backstabbing in the enlisted ranks (which is where most of your IT people are) because the best route to promotion is patience and not screwing up. So I don't buy the rest of the AC's post.

            But we are talking about ex-military personnel, who presumably didn't have the patience to advance by merit, or who simply didn't like the culture of army. They could have well left since they didn't like an environment where they couldn't backstab their superiors.

            Besides, simply becau

        • Juat the opposite (Score:4, Informative)

          by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @01:56AM (#15511911)
          I'm posting A/C because now my company considers ex-military IT techs at the very bottom of the list when hiring due to too many problems we've had with them in the past. We actively discriminate against them due to getting burned too many times.

          My last company was just the opposite. About 1/2 our IT team was ex military (myself included). Navy and Air Force. No prima donnas, no ego trips.
        • by waveguide (166484) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @02:24AM (#15511964)
          I'm ex-military and pretty satisfied with the success I've had since in the commercial world. I'm also very taken aback by this post-- I've worked with both very professional and very useless people in both environments, and I'd sooner believe you're blaming your poor hiring decisions on a class of people, than I'd conclude that our veterans as a class are idiots.

          You really need to look at that board in your own eye.

        • by ScottFree2600 (929714) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @06:38AM (#15512431)
          I understand that in the Air Force you don't advance quickly, and I've always been amazed at how bureaucratic it is (and they seem to celebrate that!). I'm former Navy, been out about 18 months.
          I made E-7 in 8 years, and left at 10 because it got political and I had Seniors that were lying weasels. I figured that they needed me more than I needed them, so... Hung up the uniform.

          I'll have the last laugh as the morons who ruined my last year in the Navy will be retiring soon and will discover that they are indeed "unemployable". It's sad to think about how many honest, bright eyed, motivated Sailors these jerks hosed, but american business isn't much different.

          The Navy is outsourcing any job where you might actually learn something and lowering standards at the same time. So there little reason to join the service to learn anything anymore. I tried to stay away from the Navy brand of IT. It was full of know it all contractors who got lame Microsoft Certs from cram schools. These folks are worse than clueless, they're dangerous.

          I'm making about 4 times as much money as when I was wearing green stuff, I have 8 people working for me now and manage an amazing operation. The whole place is about 125 people. Life is better.

          Here's what I learned in the military:
          1. Don't work for anybody who's dishonest or a mental case
          2. IT is a terrible job (particularly if it's a windows house)
          3. Avoid large organizations (especially government contractors)
          4. If you're ethical and have a brain, American business will depress you and rot your soul. Companies (like the military) have no loyalty to you, regardless of whether you are loyal to them.
          5. The military is full of good people and some "unemployables". I am always fascinated by what happens to people when they come in, and what they do ("for real") when they get out. ("Welcome to Home Depot" or "Would you like the combo?")
          6. Most certifications (except perhaps Cisco) are meaningless, and many in the military seem to think that once they "have the ticket punched" they are experts. WRONG! You need some actual experience and an open mind before anybody should take you seriously. Can you solve REAL problems?
          7. Avoid companies whose HR departments hire techies. These people have no idea what they're looking at. Degrees, certs and the like have little to do with actual performance or potential.
          Many will argue against what I just said, but they likely "drank the Kool-Aid" and got the degrees or certs. The real question is "Can they count on you to consistantly make them money?"

          Military people are probably better than the average slacker in this department, as they do bathe (in most cases) and will show up for work.

          Best of luck to you! I miss the comaraderie, and it's annoying to have to choose and buy clothes, but hey... Air Force uniforms suck anyway, so... You're probably better off! Oh, and don't join the reserves. These days "Reserves" means "Active duty" (Can you say "recall?").
          • Most certifications (except perhaps Cisco) are meaningless

            Not meaningless, but definitely overinflated. From my (limited) experience, the importance/usefulness of Microsoft certifications are overinflated by a factor of 5-10, most Linux certifications by a factor of 3-5, and Cisco certifications by a factor of 1 to 3. Generally, when there are tiered certification levels, the higher certification levels are less overinflated.

            Certification indicates they understand the theory. In theory, there is no g

        • but by and large it seemed like most of these applicants got very little broad-coverage training in the real IT world, but instead were all pidgeon-holed into little isolated sub-sections of IT training and knowledge without being able to be immediately competant at the "big picture"

          Most of the job listings I have encountered seem to call for specialists. They read like this [monster.com]. The listing is obviously the resume of the guy who just left. So tell us, is this sort of listing a bluff? Do all managers really
    • by Anonymous Coward
      did you try searching for a GS job

      Look, the guy already said he didn't want to wear a uniform anymore. Beside, what makes the Girl Scouts such a great place to work anyway?

    • Re:usajobs.com (Score:2, Insightful)

      Speaking as someone who has spent the last 22 years working that 'GS' job, I can testify that Dilbert is alive and well in the federal government, or perhaps I should qualify that by saying that PHBs are found everywhere. At least the benefits are somewhat better than many jobs in private industry.

      Then again, the opportunities to work with the latest technology are often missing, and there are many times that you will find yourself wanting to bang your head against your monitor screen over some particula

    • Re:usajobs.com (Score:4, Insightful)

      by soloport (312487) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:47PM (#15511524) Homepage
      Also, being a contractor (vs an employeeee) helps keep the political fog from encroaching too much on your personal life. At least it seems to help somewhat.
      • Re:usajobs.com (Score:3, Insightful)

        Also, being a contractor (vs an employeeee) helps keep the political fog from encroaching too much on your personal life. At least it seems to help somewhat.

        That's not to say that you can ignore it. As a contractor, it helps a lot to be canny about such things, to understand the hidden social network quickly.

        But yes, it's a great way to isolate yourself from the effects of office politics.
  • Depends... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I just made that switch myself not long ago.

    It really depends on the place where you end up working (their size, what type of company they are, etc matters a lot).

    Regardless, I *don't* ever want to be "promoted" to a management job. I like coding, not paperwork, meetings and managing people.
  • by FatSean (18753) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:37PM (#15511306) Homepage Journal
    I work for a large organization, which as a result of it's size, has a sizeable ammount of beaurocratic BS. Perhaps I've been lucky, but I don't feel my management is as pathetic as portreryed in the strips...not even close. I think it helps to work for a company that takes IT seriously, as a genuine method for improving the business and not a dreaded tax to be paid like waste removal or maintenance. Unfortunately I have no insight as to how to determine this from the outside.

    But, people are people. I might make a vague generalization about the personality types that join the military, but that probably won't be productive.
    • I work for a large organization, and I think Dilbert is right on. In fact, most companies I've worked for that weren't startups were very much like Dilbert.

      If your company isn't that way, consider yourself lucky.

      • by DSP_Geek (532090) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @12:22AM (#15511724)
        It's not only big outfits: I worked at a startup where the VP of Engineering sprouted pointy hair three months after hiring me. On the other hand, some large outfits manage to combat idiocy fairly well, so it's really about the particular employer.

        In job interviews I tell the questioner they're being interviewed just as much as I am - the ones who get offended are likely to be idiots about other things, whereas the folks who understand it's about matching styles have a good chance of understanding my approach to the job.

        You can smell someplace will be a losing proposition. Here's an example. I was called into one office to speak with the hiring manager, but when HR heard about it, they came over with a six page form to fill out before I could talk with the guy. Didn't make a damned bit of difference whether all the data was already on my resume, paperwork had to be filled out, and at the bottom it even said "See resume not acceptable response". I scratched that in anyway since I had other things to do, the interview went swimmingly well, the engineering manager was ready to make me an offer, but after that nothing. Nada. Not hello, not goodbye, merry christmas, fuck you, nothing. I can only suspect HR scotched the followup, and if HR can override an engineering hire I wouldn't care to work there anyway because the priorities are FUBAR. Turns out my gut check was right: they went tits-up eighteen months later because of inept management.

        There are other cases, like the hostile HR guy who smelled of liquor at 11 am, the place which desperately solicited resumes then couldn't be arsed to answer email when I followed up a week later, or the guy who wasn't at his desk because there was no way he would say yes so he passive-aggressivated his way out of the problem. Each one of these was a huge warning sign, and in retrospect I'm way better off for avoiding these gigs. See, in civilian life, you can somewhat choose your CO, so reading the organisation before you get involved is a useful way to minimise potential asshattery.
    • "bad as Dilbert?" It's not bad unless you make it so - the BOFH works in the same type of corporation as Dilbert, but he manages...
    • I think it helps to work for a company that takes IT seriously, as a genuine method for improving the business and not a dreaded tax to be paid like waste removal or maintenance. Unfortunately I have no insight as to how to determine this from the outside.

      I wonder how one would go about contacting the people who work in IT in a company you're checking out. That seems like the best place to go for information. Does anybody have any ideas on the best way to do this? Just emailing webmaster@company.com? Callin
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by avm (660) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:41PM (#15511318) Journal
    Short answer: No.

    Longer answer: Not really...there are places where performance and ability advance, but they are few and far between indeed, and primarily in small establishments. To most employers, employees are disposable commodity, a necessary evil that is to be pruned or removed at the earliest possible convenience. Management has become the science of keeping up appearances, with many managers being completely ignorant of the trade they are in, or the tasks of the workers they supposedly manage. Color me a pessimist, but the way I see it, Dilbert has gone from a sarcastic parody to a photorealistic portrait of the American workforce.
    • the real No (Score:3, Insightful)

      short answer: no
       
      long answer: hell, no

    • Re:No. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by metaltoad (954564)
      Anybody who feels this way should start their own business. It does require a certain amount of capital, but starting your own business is an opportunity to do things the right way (or at least your version of the right way). Anyone who doesn't start their own business has no more right to complain about corporate culture than people who don't vote have to complain about politics. Nothing will change unless we change it.
      • Re:No. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rolfwind (528248)

        Anyone who doesn't start their own business has no more right to complain about corporate culture than people who don't vote have to complain about politics.

        Pray tell, what a fascinating point of view. All this time, I thought my right to bitch and complain about things was enumerated under the constitution (first amendment.)

        So you are also telling me that someone who is politically active, does things to promote their cause, but doesn't vote because he can't conscientously a hand in picking one of the two

        • by arete (170676) <areteslashdot2NO@SPAMxig.net> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @02:09AM (#15511933) Homepage
          Not voting is no good.

          I will happily grant you that both major candidates may suck in any given election and that you might well want to protest by not voting for either one. (I do not agree with your idealistic "sullying my hands" position - I think if one of those candidates is less bad to you you should vote for them, and I think in most real cases one candidate is less bad to you if you bother to check. But that's not my major point, so I'll assume they're exactly even for now.)

          But the _biggest_ consistent problem we have which makes the two candidates both suck is that the two incumbent parties have a strangehold on who we get to choose from. Voting for a third party candidates drives up the visibility of third parties existing and drives up the likelihood that OTHER people will vote for third parties.

          As a bonus, if enough people do it for a presidental campaign then they get federal election money.
  • Ex-Marines's Opinion (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gasmonso (929871) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:41PM (#15511319) Homepage

    After 4 years in the Marines I was ready to get out to the "real" world... a world free of BS and well paying cool jobs. Well I got my degree in Comp Sci and was ready to face the world. Upon getting a job with a large corporation, I was amazed at the amount of BS there. It made the military look like an efficient & well-oiled machine. After 5.5 years now in the corporate world I ahve come to one conclusion... you alone can't make a damn difference. Either you will like it or you won't. I have finally realized that being my own boss is the way to go and thus I am pursuing that vigorously.

    As for you my friend, take a walk through the corporate jungle and see if its your kinda thing. You can always do your own thing!

    http://psychicfreaks.com/ [psychicfreaks.com]
    • I don't think it's ever been any different. Which leads me to think that if somebody can figure out how to make a corporation STOP SUCKING, they could make a huge amount of money. Any time you have the prospect of a reasonable risk of making a huge amount of money, you can get advance money to do the research and development for it.
      • Which leads me to think that if somebody can figure out how to make a corporation STOP SUCKING, they could make a huge amount of money.

        As soon as they start making those huge amounts of money, the parasites will attach. There's always going to be a great deal of BS in any mid-sized and up company.

        The best way to do things is find a manager who effectively shields you from most of it. I got lucky three times in a row, but I haven't got a clue how to make sure it happens. I don't think there is a way.
    • by Infonaut (96956) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @01:09AM (#15511812) Homepage Journal

      Upon getting a job with a large corporation, I was amazed at the amount of BS there. It made the military look like an efficient & well-oiled machine.

      I agree. After leaving the Army, I moved through several jobs. The nonprofit world was amazing. Determining accountability for anything was like trying to nail jello to a wall. Government contracting made me realize that people who create small contracting companies and latch onto a contract or two are on the gravy train. The way government spending works, you pretty much *must* spend the money your contracting agency has allocated for you. If I had the stomach to put up with Inside-the-Beltway bullshit, I would have gone into government contracting. Big businesses (I speak only from experience with the Silicon Valley kind) are often full of energy, but the biggest problem, as with the rest of the civilian world, is that organizational leaders simply do not have much leadership training.

      I don't know how it was for you in the Air Force, but I was in general impressed with the leaders I worked for in the Army. I'm sure to some degree it's a matter of your specialty, plus luck of the draw. But when you find a set of good leaders in the civilian world, in my experience it is a rare treat. Even the juggernauts of the Information Age have a great deal of employee churn, and they seldom devote necessary resources to adequately training leaders (mid-level managers in particular). That's where the Dilbert Factor is nurtured and brought to full bloom.

      Others have mentioned this, but you may truly find that going small and/or going it alone may work for you. If you can maintain the military work ethic, you'll probably have an advantage over most of your competitors, at least in the areas of initiative, attention to detail, knowledge of the importance of planning, and ability to prioritize.

  • I have to say my first engineering internship/coop/whatever you wanna call it has been rather pleasant. It is probably due to the fact that my boss actually has a degree in physics. Well this week has been the strangest Dilbert moment ever. Four days out of the five I had to work with someone using a jackhammer about ten feet away. No one's innepitude caused it (except maybe the people who built the building) but it had to happen because a rock/large concrete slab had to go in order for some constructio
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:42PM (#15511325)
    The more in-depth knowledge you have of some area, the more immune you will be to having to bow to mindless political requirements. I'm not saying that will go away, just that it will be lessened.

    Consider focusing on specific areas, like perhaps IT security work or perhaps programming related to military applications. It seems like you should be able to use your time in the services to your advantage.
    • The more in-depth knowledge you have of some area, the more immune you will be to mindless political requirements
      Perhaps, but the more in-depth knowledge you have, the more annoyed you will be by the ignorant requirements put forth by those who have no knowledge at all.

      -Kurt

    • by bitslinger_42 (598584) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:58PM (#15511382)

      While I agree that focussing on an area that is somewhat related to the poster's military career is good advice, don't be fooled that IT security is less BS prone than any other area. Having done security for a Fortune 100 company for ten years, I can say emphatically that Dilbertesque moments abound. I've gone into meetings on my management's behalf and given the message I was told to give only to be censured afterwards because the other people in the meeting didn't like the message. I've been told by a man who received all his promotions from his uncle that political harmony is frequently more important than security ideals. I've had to spend MONTHS collecting data and statistics from external sources to convince a division that Internet email is not an appropriate delivery platform for mission critical communications that absolutely MUST be received, unaltered and unread, within 2 minutes of sending.

      If you can make the intellectual leap that a paycheck is its own reward and that, as long as you are receiving one, it doesn't really matter much what the company does, then working in the private sector can be both rewarding and relaxing. If, on the other hand, you truly belive that you can make a difference and/or save the company from itself, then perhaps you ought to consider a career with a greater chance of success, such as carrying ice cubes on the palm of your hand across the Sahara before they melt.

      At least in the military, "I was just following orders" is still a plausible excuse.

    • The more in-depth knowledge you have of some area, the more immune you will be to having to bow to mindless political requirements.
      That's because the more in-depth and specific your job, the lower you are in the company. If you want to move up you have to deal with crap.
  • Keep it small (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grcumb (781340) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:42PM (#15511326) Homepage Journal

    I value nothing more than being the master of my own destiny - which should explain why I live in the South Pacific and am more or less retired from corporate life at 42. Here, in a nutshell is the modus vivendi I've developed:

    Any organisation beyond a certain size inevitably becomes pathological in its behaviour. It sometimes reverts to normalcy for periods of time, but it will swing, and you will swing with it. Avoid long term commercial commitments to any large organisation. Working with groups or individuals within them for finite terms is fine, and sometimes really enjoyable, though.

    Find a niche where you can work with a number of trusted individuals (perhaps as a consultant or contractor) and either work for yourself or work in a small company of less than 50 staff. The material benefits won't be as easily accessible, but your life will be infinitely more enjoyable, because you'll actually have some control over it.

    • Pretty much exactly what I was going to say. My experience has been that any organization exceeding 25-50 employess begins to take on the appearance of a Dilbert strip. It varies from department to department, of course, but ultimately those pieces have to interact, and you will find yourself dealing with PHBs, the marketing demons, etc.
    • Re:Keep it small (Score:5, Informative)

      by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:20PM (#15511453) Homepage
      Any organisation beyond a certain size inevitably becomes pathological in its behaviour.


      Agreed... when the company is below a certain size, everybody can exist within the same monkeysphere [pointlesswasteoftime.com], and several hundred thousand years of social evolution help things along. In much larger organizations, multiple monkeyspheres form, leading to indifference and inefficiency at best, or low-level tribal warfare at worst.

    • by woolio (927141)
      The material benefits won't be as easily accessible, but your life will be infinitely more enjoyable, because you'll actually have some control over it.

      Just curious, how does one retire at 42 working in a small company?
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:43PM (#15511330)
    If you work in a big corporation, chances are that there's an official organization chart, with personnel at all sorts of levels. Unofficially, there's a complicated web of an organization chart that goes on behind the scenes. People talk to one another. Some people work hard and do their best to do a good job, but don't get anywhere in life. Other people don't do such a great job, but spend their time figuring out how the game works at their particular organization, and then play the game and move up the corporate ladder. This is a problem if you're the former, and an advantage if you're the latter.

    But that can be avoided! If, instead of working at a large company, you seek out a small fledgling business to work at, you will find that the benefits are proportional to the results and not to politics. A small business, especially one with 20 employees at the most, cannot afford to play these political games. These businesses are usually owner-operated, and the owner cares about moving forward in life. That's why he is taking the tremendous risk and creating jobs for his employees. These organizations usually have one boss, around whom the whole business revolves. There might be one other manager, but usually, everyone runs around the boss asking questions and finding out what he wants them to do. This is the perfect business to work in, if you're a people-person. You go over there, and start at whatever level you can get. Since there aren't thousands of employees, the owner of the business will quickly see how you learn and operate. If you do a good job, you'll find yourself earning a lot of trust and capability in the company. Your opinions will be heard. And if you can be a team member, not just by doing your job, but by learning a bit about everyone's job, learning how the owner thinks, what he wants to accomplish, etc., you can take a lot of that pressure off the owner.

    By doing all of this, you can help the business grow in terms of profit, which will make it grow into a larger company. Eventually, that means the office will become a Dilbert strip, or something out of Office Space. You'll have a Lumberg working under you a few levels down. But who cares? At this point, you will have helped the U.S. economy, you will have created jobs, you will have grown the company into something successful and long lasting, and you will be at a high position at the top, earning a high salary, and no doubt owning a good portion of the stock. You'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Unfortunately, small businesses can and do have pretty dumb owner-operators too. It's hard to explain, but any individual can have quirks to serious personality flaws, but not fatal to the business that get in the way of good sense, and that carries into how they operate a business, they can survive and succeed, but not as well as they could.
    • Hehe, before I did the Fortune 100 thing, I worked for a company of 20 people. Believe me, the grass is not greener over there. The president of the company had no clue how to run a startup (his background was head of a major international bank), his operations manager was a power hungry, self absorbed geek wannabe that mandated, amongst other things, that the whole business system that delivered our system must be rewritten in Pascal, since that was the only language he knew. The president hired craploa

    • Small offices don't have less office politics. As soon as you have two people together in one office you have politics. While it may be true that small businesses can't afford the politics, that dosen't mean there aren't any. Small offices still suffer from arbitrary promotions and pay raises, and the boss's incompotent son or daughter "working" durring the summer.

      I don't understand the adversion to office politics. Politics are just something else that smart people can hack.
      • I don't understand the adversion (sic) to office politics. Politics are just something else that smart people can hack.

        If you honestly don't understand how some people can be repulsed by office politics, then perhaps you don't really have the "people skills" that you imply you have.

        OTOH, if you meant that you believe that people's ethics and morals shouldn't interfere in their ability to "hack" the office politics then I see your point. I disagree with it, because when people behave in a way that violat

    • by xixax (44677) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @02:23AM (#15511960)
      You can achieve a similar effect in a large organisation by keeping an eye out for intelligent people who are seeking to achieve meaningful things. Every large organisation is made up of smaller groups and the dynamics and suck/un-suck factor varies between them. My old boss is working for a different government department entirely, but has managed to attract a pool of taleneted, motivated people and they have a good project to work on where they reall have a chance to make the country a better place (I'd go join him, but I'm already working in quite a nice team on some rather cool stuff).

      The goal is to work for people who appreciate your skills and talents so that when you apply for work elsewhere, you have a cool resume and a bunch of people who really like the work you do.

      Similarly, there are also wastelands filled with disillusioned people who spend 12 hours each day stressing over pointless management failures. If you end up in one of those, consider it a platform from which to find something less awful.

      Xix.
  • by SpecialAgentXXX (623692) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:47PM (#15511344)
    You can work at a Start-Up. In those types of jobs, there's not a lot of money to go around so there's no room to slack off. Thus, everyone around you should, in theory, be top quality. Your reward for long hours and lower pay is a lot of stock options... But if the company doesn't work out, all you're left with is toilet paper. (No, I'm not bitter, not at all)

    Or you can work at Big Corporation. All of them are the same, with varying degrees of B.S. Some have very little office politics and your hard work is noted and rewarded. Others are just one big C.Y.A. environment. Even worse, even if you do work hard in your local I.T. area, upper management may decide to oursource your job, so you get screwed anyways.

    Remember, the goal is not to work hard. The goal is to work smart. Put in a lot padding on your estimates so you can slack off and still meet the deadline. If your co-workers in other areas / departments ask you to do things for them, pretend you don't know so they won't bother you anymore. (After all, you only answer to your boss.) Be sure to take the credit when something works and pass the blame when it doesn't. Don't complain about new projects or moved up timelines. You'll still have to complete them anyways if you still want to keep your job. Instead, agree with management and discuss how much more revenue the company will make once the project is finished. It gives the impression you actually give a shit about your clients and you'll be remembered as the "can do" person instead of the "can't do" complainer. I do all of these and have steadily advanced in position & salary.
  • Go small company? (Score:3, Informative)

    by slide-rule (153968) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:47PM (#15511346)
    After six years at a large international engineering outfit in the aerospace sector, I was very fortunate to find an IT job at a small, commercial-software-making outfit. The change in attitude and valuation of my skill set is like night and day. (Of course in favor of the small company.) That being said, opportunities in such companies aren't all that common, and you may trade some of the perks that larger companies can provide you. I took a $5k/year cut from the previous job, and my insurance coverage isn't quite as favorable in the smaller company, but I wouldn't think of going back since my input and experience is very much needed and appreciated here. Yes, I got d*mn lucky. Not all hope is lost.
  • Stay away from... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by catdevnull (531283) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:48PM (#15511351)
    Stay away from state-run universities if you want to avoid the same sort of red-tape and bullshit you find working for Uncle Sam.

    I'm working for a very wealthy private univesity and it's much better than the state one where I worked before. It's easier to get fired at a private place so do you work and obey the rules. If you like total job security despite the BS factor, you might enjoy working for the state--here in Texas, it took an act of God to get fired because the managers (at least where I worked) never kept enough of the right paper work to do the necessary documentation to terminate an employee.

    However, universities have a bad habit of higher their own graduates and favoring them in promotions--they've never been anywhere else so changes come slow if not 10 years behind everyone else. The management types are usually not as sharp as the managers in the corporate world--mostly because they wouldn't survive out there so they're also playing the job security card.

    There's also little upward mobility. But, in the right position, you're an 8-5, weekends off, extra week off between Xmas and New Years Day kind of cush job.

    Oh, at the pay scale is usually lower than the corporate market bears--but you won't get laid off.

    There's lots of trade-offs but you have to decide what you want.

    Good luck--having "USMC" on my resume qualified me for prison guard, police work, or mall security. Hope USAF is more helpful to you.
  • Large Company (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bios_Hakr (68586) <xptical@@@gmail...com> on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:53PM (#15511365) Homepage
    Every big company works exactly the same way. Instead of having prima-donna base commanders, the civies have CEOs. Instead of blow-hard group commanders, the civilians have CIOs, CFOs, etc. Instead of incompetent leutennants, you'll be faced with stupid managers.

    The biggest difference? You can actually get fired from a civilian company.

    Being in the military sucks sometimes. But it sure beats working for a living.
  • I've found in my own experience that taking consulting lobs (Dogbert: combines conning people with insulting people) and constantly upgrading skills have been a path to higher pay. Road warrior when I've had to be. If you wnat stability, hone your brown nose and political skills and hunker down for a long climb up and pray that no merger or Indian outsourcing company moves in. Keep lots of phone numbers and emails on hand and make sure they are up to date. Stay in touch with former employees and managers.
  • I work in an IT department for a company that has about 250 employees. We do business all around the world, so we often have to prepare data and fix computers that get viruses and spyware. Right now, there are 4 IT employees for the entire building. One of them is full time, another a consultant, and there are two of us interns. Companies like this want the world of you, they want every single outlook, web service, directory service, etc. located in one place that people can access via regular http (not
  • by LongestPrefix (929027) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:54PM (#15511373)
    I'm a technical consultant, and I get to see inside a good many companies. Big Companies Do Things Worse. I don't really know why; maybe it's because small companies have to work hard and succeed to survive, whereas large companies are profitable enough to afford to be bad at what they do. Smaller organizations with fewer people involved in making things happen seem to make more things happen. Large companies with more time to think it through, and more people to have input, seem to have more meetings and think of more risks, and ultimately seem to get much less done.

    In my experience, a small company is the best place to focus on the work at hand, rather than the overhead. It's also easier to get permission to do things, because there aren't as many people to have turf wars. Plus, at smaller companies, you'll see more of the mechanitions of real business decisions, rather than the fodder of low-competence managers and colleagues.

  • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @09:58PM (#15511383) Homepage
    Dilbert can be classified as a form of observational comedy, similar to Seinfield. The reason why this is so funny is because it takes observations from real-life situations, and exaggerates them. Therefore, they aren't a 100% mirror reflection of reality, however they start off with a kernel of truth to them. They bring about a representation of the way we feel about situations, but just as New Yorkers aren't quite like portraied on Seinfield, the private IT sector isn't exactly like Dilbert either.
  • I have worked around the world, and the US has the most cynical and political business environment I have seen anywhere. A few principled organisations, that will try to do the right thing for their employees, still exist, but most will see you as just a special kind of IT tool.

    The best I can suggest, to avoid the politics and bureaucracy, is to have a specialised technical job and to work for a manager who is also technical and will understand your contribution. Hopefully, your relationship with him ca

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:07PM (#15511403)

    There is one place that is as honest as you
    want it to be... working for yourself.

    It's a shitty thing to say, because starting your
    own business (or more realistically a partnership with
    others you know) is not easy. Maybe you have to slog through
    some soul crushing bullshit at a large corporate job to get the
    money and contacts you need to do it.

    But once you do it (success of failure), you will know what
    it is to work for an honest organization where true merit counts.

    Once you do, you never want to go back.

  • can't fire dilbert (Score:2, Informative)

    by Augmento (725540)
    AF has the best reputation of all the services for enlisted MOS and computers. if there are any contractors in your facility/base in your field then let them know you are getting out. most of them will get a referral bonus if you get hired. I can honestly say that nobody treats ex-military better than the DOD contractors. On the flipside, at the highest ranks they all prior service officers and as a former enlisted you may rise far into middle management but the senior positions for most DoD contractors wil
  • I work for Motorola (in Australia, but I've work in MOT offices around the world on assignment).

    It is *exactly* like Dilbert.

  • A story I heard... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scratch-O-Matic (245992) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:16PM (#15511432)
    I will paraphrase a story I heard around the campfire in the Boy Scouts:

    An old man sat sipping iced tea on a bench in front of the little drug store in a small town. After a while a young man pulled up in his car and got out, and stopped to chat with the old man before going into the store. The younger man said he had just moved to town, and he was curious about how this new town would compare. "I hope it's like the place I just left. The people were friendly, and everyone looked out for each other."

    "I've got good news," the old man said, "You will find that this town is just the same as the one you left!"

    After a while another young man came along, and stopped to chat with the old man. He too was curious about what this town was like. "I hope it's better than the place I just left. The people were petty and self-centered, and everyone was out for himself."

    I've got bad news," the old man said, "You will find that this town is just the same as the one you left!"
    • not true in south florida. everyone was nice in southern california but it was too crowded. here in miami everyone is mean and self centered unfortunately. i guess theres exceptions to every rule.
  • by wirehead_rick (308391) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:17PM (#15511436)
    Having spent 5 years in the military myself and the last 18 years in the civilian sector, I can say with great confidence that the civilian sector in no way is anywhere near as disorganized and incompetent as the military. The military is another branch of the federal government. That means it falls to the same economic problems the government has. No accountability for output or productivity.

    No competition in govt. means the quality of output is not compared to a competitor. There are no standards nor metrics that have any independant oversight. The result is obvious. Poeple in govt. tend to get lazy and do less and less for more and more pay because they can. What standards can they be compared to? Who holds them accountable? The govt. is too big to have any real accountability.

    In the civilian sector you have to make money. Yeah there is plenty of fat/red tape/ incompetance in large corporations. But it doesn't last forever. Any company that gets fat, happy and lazy will eventually lose in the marketplace. Just look at any large tech company in the last 10 years to see what a difference competition makes. When was the last time the military or fed govt. laid off a _large_ portion of it's workforce because they stopped bringing in enough income? The last time I checked, the govt just borrows more and more money when income goes down. It'd be nice in the civilain sector if companies could just borrow their way out of financial woes but unfortunately the civlian sector has to budget and follow normal economics.

    Therefore no waste, incompetance and lazy tenured people who are mean, lazy and disfunctional (been to get a drivers license lately? Imagine millions of poeple in one organization just like that. Now think of the fed. govt.).

    Hopefully getting into the civilian sector is not too much of a shock since you will now have to justify your value by production and not by how much "time" you have put in (unless you go union - that has the same problems fed govt has).

    My $.02.
  • I've worked for Fortune 500 companies, and five person start ups. I've taken a shot a starting my own company too (it didn't work out). I'm 110% convinced that the only way to avoid the bozos is to be your own boss.
    • "I'm 110% convinced that the only way to avoid the bozos is to be your own boss."

      Thing is, everyone is somebody else's "bozo", had you been sucessfull in your start-up the "bozo's" would be working for you. The only way to avoid "bozo's" is to live like a hermit and even a hermit does stupid shit to themselves every now and then.
  • In the military promotions are the result of seniority and heavily on performance. In the civilian world promotions are a result of how will you can attach your lips to somebodies buttocks.
  • I have a decade of IT work under my belt in diffent companies of different sizes. It is apparent to me, and somewhat logical and obvious, that the bigger a company gets, the more office politics enters the fray. I worked at a Fortune 100 company where work didn't matter anywhere near as much as office politics - you had about as much chance of getting another business unit to do some work for you as Kafka's narrator in "The Castle" had of completing his task - and with a similar dealing of bureaucracy.

    Sm

  • I was in a few different areas before I came into the military: small business, non-profit, academia, corporate. (Never worked directly for the government before, though.) To my mind, the military, being a microcosm of society, tends to have all the problems everyone else does.

    And I think it's a pretty universal rule that when your organization, whether it's military or civilian, will work best when they are focused on some kind of mission. This is especially true for the military because so many of our rul
  • I'm an information architect who works for a consulting company that has major contracts with both the military (portals, both secret and non) and teh private sector (special focus in financial services and ecommerce). The answer to your question is an emphatic NO, not in the slightest.

    A project that the private sector will complete inside of 9 months will take 2 years inside the government. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward.

    1. Contractors (the big boys, not my company necessarily) have NO i
  • Why not do the extra 14 years and leave with a paycheck in the bank twice a month for the rest of your life? Oh, and TRICARE too. I know it's hard to deal with LIFERs but that extra paycheck when you get out is so sweet and know all you want to do is get out but still. While I was happy to get out after six myself I sometimes wonder. My dad did 20+ USA and that extra check sometimes came in very handy for the family.

    20 is a very, very long time but 30+ years of retirement pay (plus they still do COLAs to
  • by JudasBlue (409332) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @10:50PM (#15511532)
    > Are there any 'honest' places to work any more (where promotions/awards are based on work preformed and >bureaucracy, and politics aren't encouraged to supplant the 'mission),

    The United States Military is many ways a highly inefficent organization in the micro, and lord knows it is filled with bureaucracy that is phenomonal. That said, one of the strong points of the military is the promotion structure.

    I have worked at a lot of different jobs in the 17 years since I have been out of the military, from very small shops to enterprise situations, and have never seen anywhere that the promotion situation is as clear-cut as the military. The rules for promotion in the military are phenomonally well definied. There is no guessing and the need for promotion politicing is *by far* the lowest of any organization I have ever been in or even heard of.

    It is also completely color and gender blind, which is getting to be the standard in the US, but sure isn't in every shop I have seen.

    That said, to be fair to the poster, in the critera for promotion, work performed tends to come about the middle of the list of things that determine your promotion status. Military bearing (a catchall for how well you meet the basic military requirements for behavior and action) for example, is often at least if not more important than your actual job performance at the lower ranks (which the poster is if he served 6 years). But if you are joining the military in the first place, you pretty much know that unless you aren't too bright. At least I sure did.

    I am not pushing the military here, nor disagreeing with the poster's basic tenent that the military can be a phenomonally frustrating work envrionment. My decision to get out was definitely the correct one for me and I haven't looked back. But once I got a good taste of civilian experience, the one thing that kept impressing me about the military was the promotion system. Of course, that said, I have gotten a *lot* further in civilian life than I ever would have in the military rank structure. I sucked with the military bearing stuff, but that wasn't the fault of the military, I am the one who signed up to wear the green suit.
  • Assuming you are now 24 or so, your career should be just starting. Best thing you can do is get in school, take up computers as a hobby, and figure out what you are going to do with yourself when the GI Bill money runs out, or you get a degree, whichever comes first. In my experience, there aren't very many honest, meritocratic companies out there. Being run by human beings tends to kill off all of the idealistic notions of a start-up pretty quickly, so if you want to advance AND stay honest, you are go
  • Military, Inc. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShakaUVM (157947) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @11:06PM (#15511553) Homepage Journal
    A marine officer friend once told me the military was operated and run like a big business, except instead of turning profits, they export bodies of bad guys.

    And he was serious, he went into details on the similarities of his training and an MBA program, though I suppose the MBA didn't involve automatic weapons.

    There's red tape in any large organization. I've you've developed an allergy to it, go into business for yourself, or a small company with good people.
  • I went into the Army straight out of high school and served about a decade. I went a lot of places and was exposed to a lot of very exciting technology. I doubt I will ever again come close to doing anything as cool in the civilian sector. Outside of the technology, I miss the sense of purpose I had while I was in. I miss knowing exactly what I needed to do to get promoted. I do make waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more money than I did then, but I am not as satisfied with the kind of work I do now. I program for a
  • Grin and Bear IT (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday June 10, 2006 @11:35PM (#15511609) Homepage Journal
    Dilbert was written by Scott Adams from his IT desk at Pacific Bell about his daily work environment in cubeland. Having worked developing IT for businesses and governments on all 4 coasts of America (OK, Great Lakes in Canada, not the Arctic), for over a decade and a half, I can tell you that his cubeland stretches from sea to shining sea, as well as from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli. And it's always been that way.

    Which is good news. Many thousands of people have found careers doing interesting, lucrative work among the sea of nonsense that is the business world. It just takes a sense of humor. If you still want more after a military IT career, you're probably qualified.
  • Not sure why you would expect the private sector to be better than the military.

    The only loyalty corporations are required to maintain is loyalty to the almighty dollar.

    One reason the military is more snafu'd than usual is because they began importing modern corporate management techniques several decades ago. If you don't believe me, re-read Colin Powell's autobiography sometime...
  • The TAO of Dilbert (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sonyturbo (981615) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @12:43AM (#15511763)
    I think I have a pretty good perspective on the "Dilbert factor". I have worked for Chevron (9 years), IBM (3 months) and McKinsey (2 years) and was 1 degree of separation from Scott Adams when he was at Pacific Bell. So there's my big company experience.

    On the other side, I am the owner of a 15 person IT consulting firm which services only companies of 10 to 200, and so I have worked with over 50 companies of this size - in addition to owning one.

    Here is the simple truth of the matter:

    If a small company runs on politics, rather than business sense, it goes out of business. Yes there are exceptions - owner has a huge chunk of cash to burn - but this is very largely true. So there is very little b.s. in small business.

    In large businesses, sad but true, it becomes very very hard to distinguish the true business contribution of one person from another. Also, the consequence of a good / bad decision may take years to come to light. So, whether people say so or not, you are judged on how well you fit into the culture. If you know this, understand it and accept it, you will do fine. If you act like a typical engineer and say "but my idea was better", you will be miserable. Instead of being upset at the fact that the MBA's are running the show, sit back and ask yourself why that is. If you are as smart as you think you are - you will figure it out.

    The fact is that the success of big business depends on people working together. And this quality, one of fitting in, is easier to pick out than what the true ROI of converting all those Windows servers to Linux is.

    Think really, really hard on this. Don't reject reality and say "it stinks" - use a bit of ju jitsu - accept reality, understand why this reality exists, and use that understanding in an effective way to achieve your personal vision of success.

    A way of thinking

    This reality stinks
    It shouldn't be this way
    I can't affect what happens

    A better way of thinking

    What is really going on here?
    It is this way, why is that so?
    I can affect how I react to what happens.

    Do this and you may be very happy at a big business since you will learn how to rise within it to the point that you have real influence. If you don't understand this you will be frustrated regardless of where you work.
  • by ONOIML8 (23262) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @12:45AM (#15511769) Homepage
    Consider everything you've ever heard about the two best bases in the world. That's true about who you work for as well.

    I did 4.5 yrs active and another 3 with the guard. I've worked in the private sector and for state and local government. Here's how I see it:

    When I was "in" there was one thing I knew for certain, the USAF was the most disorganized Mickey Mouse operation in the world. Not a doubt in my mind. It's amazing how I knew everything when I was between 19 and 24.

    After working for all these other places and governments I am now certain that the USAF is one of the most organized teams anywhere in the world. They have a plan, they train for the plan and they execute the plan. Nobody anywhere else does it as well as they do.

    If you want organization and logic, it doesn't get any better.

    No, I'm not joking.
  • by patio11 (857072) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @01:51AM (#15511896)
    I once knew a very talented engineer (also my supervisor) who was consistently less supported by management than his coworker Bob (not his real name). Bob was also a very talented engineer, and Bob had essentially infinite budget any time he snapped his fingers. Do you know why? Because Bob understood the rules of the game and played it like a master. Bob was aggressive about keeping his appointment book in order, was never late to a meeting, and actually bothered keeping a Rolodex with contacts inside and outside the organization. When Bob was at the meeting, rather than pretending it was a waste of his time he listened, discussed, argued, and lost the argument sometimes. Bob was as comfortable in Powerpoint as he was in his C compiler -- probably better, actually. When they'd explain project proposals my supervisor would talk about Zipf distributions, locality of reference, and cache misses and Bob would talk about "maximizing search outcomes".

    When Bob got his project greenlighted when my supervisor did not, because Bob was capable of making a business case for it at a meeting chaired by the guy he'd been grooming for months, was that B.S? Seems to me like thats "creative use of resources". You can either continue to laugh ruefully at the world and scorn "small talk" and "politics" and "useless meetings and reports and that bureacratic "#$"%" or you can be like Bob.

  • by Howzer (580315) * <`grabshot' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:13AM (#15512044) Homepage Journal
    You asked: "Are there any 'honest' places to work any more (where promotions/awards are based on work preformed and bureaucracy, and politics aren't encouraged to supplant the 'mission)"

    The answer, sadly, is a resounding no.

    Your individual skills (troubleshooting, coding, organising, selling, whatever) are the stuff that you _do_. The "work" part of work IS the politics. The "work" part of work is dealing with 9-5, 5 days a week on the books, and 8-7 and sometimes on weekends in reality.

    That's why it's called "work" and not "play". That's why you get paid money -- because while we would probably all continue to code, mess with hardware, organise, conceptualise in our free time should we not be working -- we expect a big pay packet to deal with the bullshit.

    It's the difference between micro-evolution and macro-evolution. You can micro-evolve in any company -- go from Programmer 3rd Class to Programmer 2nd Class, for example -- but to completely move up or even across the ladder is rare, precisely because if you're actually good at what you do, you won't be good at the things that guarantee promotion.

    Google the "Peter Principle [google.com]". Look up the "60% rule" (60% of your time inside any company bigger than 10 people will be spent on servicing "how things are done around here" -- not actually your "job description" stuff).

    Work is work, and if you're lucky the stuff you're actually good at will align slightly with it.
  • An Honest Answer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by solarrhino (581267) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @03:57AM (#15512137) Homepage Journal
    Maybe someone else actually answered your question, but I scanned the top-rate responses and didn't see it. So here goes.

    No. Given your concerns - disorganization and mismanagement, merit-rewards and bureaucracy - non-military employers are, in my experience, always worse in every category.

    This is simply the nature of the beast. The military loves to plan, and is allowed to. Its budgets are set ahead of time, its goals and standards are relatively well-defined and stable, its policies and merit system relatively clear cut.

    The closer you get to a purely commercial venture, the farther away you get from all of those things. An aggressively company in a competitive market is much more reactive than pre-planned. Budget and goals can change instantly as management's perception of the market changes. One twitchy exec can wipe out a whole division in a heartbeat. Even when the business is stable, standards and policies tend to be ad hoc. Such standards and policies that do exist, exist only to make your life harder. If you try to do something new, you have to convince the bureaucracy first; but if something non-standard and anti-policy does get done, you will have to accomodate it: nobody is going to pay the replace a working dohicky with a compliant dohicky that does the same thing.

    As for merits and rewards: while your supervisor may try to be fair (or may not), the bigger issue is that he can only split the pot he is given. If you do brilliant, excellent work for a company, (or division of a company, or product line within the division) which is not profitable "enough", you get nada. Conversely, if you are a lucky screw-off who works for a group that fell into and owns a particularly profitable niche, you can do pretty well even though you and everybody else are almost worthless. Whether that is good or bad, it's hard to argue that it's fair.

    In my opinion, having worked for a range of employers, you will find the easiest transition at defense contractors or well-heeled acedemic institutions. They tend to plan and have stable budgets, and don't worry to much about competively pressures. If you are spectacularly brilliant, you might find that one of the big, successful high-tech companies you. They can be horrible places, but if they are big enough, rich enough, and you are good enough, you can be insulated against much of that horribleness. But, most important of all, stay away from startups - especially privately-held startups - double especially family-owned startups. The unfairness and disorder found there would leave you absolutely breathless.

    Note to /.'ers: before you burn me, consider the class of issues that this guy raised. If you want to gamble on getting rich, join a startup. If you want to move into management someday, join a big technical company. But if you want organization, stable management, and merit-based rewards... good luck finding that anywhere. Sadly, IMHO, the best that this world offers, as a whole, are defense contractors and well-funded colleges.

  • bad attitude (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m874t232 (973431) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @07:44AM (#15512530)
    With that kind of attitude, I guarantee you that you won't get very far in business. Politics is part of any organization, and it serves real and important functions in actually getting things done. You better get used to that and learn to live with it.

    Being aware of politics doesn't mean that you need to turn into a Machiavellian maniac, it means that you recognize how things work, try to improve things where you can, and still have the smarts to survive when other people screw up or conspire against you (and always keep in mind that screw-ups are far more frequent than deception).

    Having said that, there are some bad organizations out there that really don't function well; you can try to spot them before you get into them, but if you find yourself in a bad situation, just start looking for a new job.
  • by lophophore (4087) on Sunday June 11, 2006 @06:54PM (#15514283) Homepage
    What! You are only 14 years away from a government pension!

    If you don't want to stay military, consider a government job and work yourself toward retirement.

    No corporate jobs have pension or retirement any more, and the US government benefits have got to be better than most big corporations.

    This is a good time to look at the long view.

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