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October 27, 2006


It's secret

Enjoyed your 20 year synopsis... I rode the beast for 8 years, survived all "reorgs", but burnout ultimately won... even took me a month and a half to come back and clean out my cube :) and still haven't fully recovered some 3 years later.

I had 6 managers over that time, some excellent, some surprisingly disinterested in Apple, the last... quite clueless on how to manage people, only skilled in corporate politics.

The key to surviving is to keep your head low, stay quiet and keep a balance in life "outside apple"... since it can become all consuming. (at least for me)

I agree there is little actual structure... and I learned early on... you are pretty much your own "company" inside apple, and your labor, reputation is all based on "you" not any team, or department.

I could go on and on about the great times, and painful times while working there. I encourage everyone to work there at least once, but be forewarned it's not paradise, and study up on "corporate politics" before your first day :)

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by the way, apple alumni have their own website... enjoy...



Welcome to corporate America.


I am disappointed that four years in Apple Retail got me nothing. In the end when I tried to transfer to a different position at a different store, I was offered nothing extra for the experience I gained and my loyalty to the company. In fact, I was offered a lower position and the opportunity to "prove myself" yet again. I quit. Now I'm looking for work elsewhere, but the transition is tough. Apple is like a drug one needs to detox from.


Actually I went through the same thing when I moved from Apple Canada to Apple USA. I had gone as far as I could in Canada without moving to Toronto, so we chose to move to Columbia, Md and take a job there.

Though I did really well in the job there, it was truly like starting over. Apple was growing quickly then. After nearly a year in the states, I applied for a new manager's position. I was told that I didn't have enough experience though my Canadian experience gave me more than the person who was hired.

You're not the first ex-Apple employee to say Apple is like a drug or disease. Apple is hard to get over.

Another lesson that I learned at Apple is that who you know is much more important that what you know, but I think that is just corporate America.

Joe Smithson

I've always been a Mac fan, but worked at Intel for many years.

culture there is similar to what you described, but worse. top heavy. team and section reorgs often. when the going gets tough, the employees suffer, a lot. a significant percentage of the workforce was/is contract, and the culture there of "blue badge" vs. green badge" was horrendous.

so, an enormous ship, manned by a lot of mercenaries and cutthroats, sailing around looking for loot, with lots of plank walking if loot didn't come in.

yeah. corporate America.


Thanks for the glimpse inside Apple. Nothing about their inner workings surprises me, as I've always heard it is a difficult place. I'm amazed that the products are so excellent and the support is so good.

I've got 10 years experience (albeit at the lowest levels) working for Fortune 500 software companies. I can attest that several things you bring up are true of such companies, including: treatment of administrative people being indicative of being a team player, the fear of escalating bad news, the people who play politics at the company's expense, and HR being on the company's side not the employee's side (all you need to do is think about who pays HRs' salaries: you or the company?)

When people leave my company we jokingly say they've graduated from the unreal world to the real world. Congratulations on your graduation!


Its funny reading your comments because I am an ex employee of Unisys and whilst I was not based in the US your stories read like a page from my experiences at Unisys.
In my country we have been watching with awe the story of Enron.
A while ago we watched with baited breath the employee related issues at EA.
One cannot help but notice that the correlation between your experiences, mine and the above companies is that they are all American.
I am not attacking Americans, my wife works for an American multiNat and has few problems but it does seem corporate America really doesn’t care about employees, only profits and survival.
I have owned my own successful businesses so I can totally understand any company wanting to protect their profits first, employees second but I also know that without committed employees who want to make a difference and who care what happens within an organization actually make a company a success.
Power to the staff I say!

Tony Skilling

Thanks for the great article... it was very interesting to see what it's really like to work at Apple.


I was killed(fired) in 5 weeks in the J.M.H(iCal, iSync...) team in Paris, was a very tough time, and it made me almost 2 years to recover.

I was aware that it was very hard to survive in Apple, but sincerely didn't believe it would be so crazy.

I work in a multiNat now, and it is not this kind of thing, even if it is far from paradise :) It is a lot more compatible with the real life.


Well, I have been working for about 10 years to get to my position. Left one industry for another. Now I am in the Film Industry. Much of what you have said, I learned in my first big job out of school. After 3 years we went from a small company (less than 100) to more than 10,000 (400+ in my building alone). As you can imagine we had rapid growth ... but soon after things settled down. That is when I decided to go back to school. I was forced early in my career (if you want to call it that) to take responsibility for my self. That is what ultimately gave me bigger raises. Also listening to everyone's needs (as you have pointed out). And more important only do work you know you can finish. Been burned on that one as a contractor more than once.

Thanks for your wise insight to apple, it seems that it's the same no matter what business you are in.


This is corporate America and our cold marketed world. No one cares for you, unless of course it is of clear benefit to them. Search at home for love and attention not at work. We're heading up on that holiday that is America's biggest corporate success- Christmas!!! enjoy!


Great article! Working at Apple for 16 years and leaving recently, I think the representation is largely accurate.

Apple is a special place with many very talented and dedicated people. I truly cherish my experience there.

Fear-based decision making diminishes Apple's success much more than the culture of secrecy.

God luck in your new endeavors.


Wow this is great insight. Thanks for sharing your experience at Apple with us. I have worked for Apple in the past. I loved the company. Many things that you discuss in this post definitely makes sense. I am passionate about Mac and would certainly love to work with the company again but one of the things that I find could be a problem is the fact that you can make good money but there is not a lot of room for moving toward leadership positions...
Anyhow... long life to Apple and Mac

Also please check out my mac related website at:
To help you get the most out of your mac...

Cody Webb

I am a college student from the Marriott School of Business at BYU studying marketing management. I found it very interesting to read your blog about the culture at Apple. I will graduate in December and am intently studying many companies and where I might want to work. I have always admired the Apple brand. It is often mentioned as an exceptional brand in the case studies I have been given at school so a small glance behind the brand was intriguing.


It would be a HUGE help if someone who worked at Apple could tell me more about Human Resources. Thanks.

[email protected]


what is the starting salary for the retail stores? what is it like working in the retail stores? how does management treat the little people? the new employees? how is the janitor treated? (this would tell me a lot about management).

I'm told if you work for apple you cant be a member of online sites or forums, you can't talk about your job there? can someone verify?

Harry Hill

After 5 years at Apple (retail) I can fill in the culture that is there.

In most ways, it is the same. Fear and politics are the prevailing motivators for manager's decisions. I learned the hard way that doing a good job and taking on extra responsibilities does not translate to being promoted. ALthough this is way the company would like you to believe. I was always passed over for the person that schmoozed the boss better.

Most of the promotions were done because they had finally decided to fill a position that was vacant for an eternity. At that time they would pick whoever was standing in the room at the time. Most of these were not qualified for the positions that they hold.

Being ambitious does not always help and can sometimes hurt. If a manager doesn't like you, you will go nowhere. If you change stores without a promotion, it will be like starting over. Nothing you have done in the past will be considered.

The Store Managers are in most cases all powerful but only in the store they run. Most of them see the other store managers and stores as competition. There is an us and them feel to them.

The people that work at corporate treat the retail folks as monkeys and are not considered "Actual" Apple employees.

it'll kill your soul

I couldn't stand it there because my manager was a moron with no management experience but a lot of corporate politics and showmanship. The rest of the division leadership who ended up creating alliances amongst themselves, were considered all morons - one psychologically crazy - too by the rest of the employees but everyone was so afraid to say or do anything. If you like a culture of fear, politics, controlling, junior high hierachy, and being backstabbed, this is the culture for you. it was the worst experience of my life and one I had to take many years to recover from. The worst was the way that people on the outside idolize working at Apple only to find out later that the corporate Apple is so different than what they spend millions of dollars on with their image. I know many people who hated working there and were scarred.

not as great as you think!

worked in Apple Europe for 2 years... its a great place to work, but is not life friendly. if you work there, be prepared to say good bye to social and family life!!

I left because i wanted a life outside of apple!

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