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Top 5 Companies You Want To Work For, For Any Reason

By phallen in Op-Ed
Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 06:37:40 PM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

I work for a consulting company that is having a hard time finding jobs for us, the consultants. At our last meeting, we were told to bring in a list of "The 5 companies you ideally would like to work for, for any reason at all."

Really, that was our assignment. But something very interesting happened when I got home and tried to pick my ideal places to work: I blanked! I realized that I have no idea were I want to work. I surfed the web for hours trying to figure it out. It's like trying to pick the 5 things you'd like to have on a desert island. Kinda funny.

Anyway, finally, with my background in Java development and interests in embedded, wireless, and biometrics technologies (but no experience in any of those), I managed to come up with a list. But I'm interested: who would be on your list?


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Top 5 Companies You Want To Work For, For Any Reason | 32 comments (31 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Kuro5hin.org (4.25 / 4) (#1)
by rusty on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 03:56:25 PM EST

  1. K5 Inc (where I do work!)
  2. Ummmm...
  3. Errr...
  4. Ahh...
  5. I'll get back to you.

Not the real rusty
CLIQ (4.25 / 4) (#5)
by Arkady on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:27:41 PM EST

I think I can second Rusty's response (but modified suitably the reflect the fact that I work with CLIQ, not K5).

I'm quite happy with my current situation (running a worker-owned garage ISP and consulting company from my house). I've never heard of any place for which I'd give up:

1) worker ownership of the company
2) a commute that involves one flight of stairs to get to the coffee pot and another optional flight to get to the server racks
3) a very cool and friendly group of co-workers (who are also co-owners)
4) most of our user base, who are quite mellow and understanding when something breaks or goes wrong on our network
5) the freedom to work when I want (or need) to and otherwise put my time into other projects

In my opinion, the best thing I ever did employmentwise was quit my job to start this collective with some of my brother's friends.


Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.

[ Parent ]
Cool! (2.66 / 3) (#7)
by ucblockhead on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:49:47 PM EST

You've talked me into it! When do I start!

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Top 5 Places to work. (3.80 / 5) (#2)
by dram on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:07:26 PM EST

  1. For myself as a political consultant
  2. White House (preferably in the Oval Office)
  3. DNC as a party leader
  4. Georgetown as a Poli Sci Professor
  5. Integrated Web Strategy (They do campaign website I really like.)
Incase you couldn't figure it out, I want to work in politics in one way or another.


Ugh. (none / 0) (#24)
by SPYvSPY on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 01:58:04 PM EST

How depressing. Okay, feeling better about my life now...

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

Why? (none / 0) (#27)
by dram on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 03:15:30 PM EST

Why is that depressing?


[ Parent ]
Here you go (3.75 / 4) (#3)
by christianlavoie on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:11:53 PM EST

In order:

McGill University
The university I'm attending right now as an undergraduate. Any quality university would likely suit me as a workplace. I just love the atmosphere, the people, the opportunities to think. Funny thing, I'm already working there...

Any of the old UNIX vendors that embraced open source with my definition of 'the right way'. The pleasure of working with the high-quality hardware, the people that wrote all those papers I keep reading, etc.

Matrox, ATI
Opportunities to write high-speed software. Drivers are one of the very last categories of software where writing fast code matters that much.

The Canadian Government
Just for the public good ;)

As a freelance software writer, book writer, whatever.
For the freedom it provides.

Maybe Computer Science ought to be taught in the school of Philosophy
   -- Christian Lavoie [modified from RS Barton]
Canadian Government (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by Anoymous 22666 on Tue Dec 18, 2001 at 06:08:01 PM EST

I work for the Canadian government. Trust me, it's not that good. It's worse when you try and think you're serving the "public good." This place practically bleeds money and efficiency, and it hurts to think about it. I originally took this job because I thought that the public service could be a rewarding place to work by serving the public good. I was wrong.

Of course, that's just my department. There must be some good ones out there - I hear DND does some interesting research. (And mostly non-aggressive stuff, too.)

And, of course, I have to say that this reflects my individual opinion and not the opinion of my federal department or the Canadian government in general.

I just farted... And I blame the fiction section. - Psycho Les

[ Parent ]
fun places with challenging work (4.00 / 3) (#4)
by danimal on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:19:44 PM EST

my top 5 mostly relate to the industry i'm in currently:
  1. Blue Sky Studios [current place of employment] (*shameless plug* go see Ice Age on March 25, 2002. It's our first movie!)
  2. Pixar Animation Studios
  3. Industrial Light + Magic [although I've worked there before]
  4. anywhere near my friends and family
  5. for myself as a freelance coder/hacker. I'd like to think I could survive on writing custom software and plug-ins for CG houses :)

<tin> we got hosed, tommy
<toy> clapclapclap
<tin> we got hosed

Wimpering idiot below [OT] (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by lonesmurf on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 10:58:11 AM EST

Just wanted to let you know that you guys and gals are an inspiration above and beyond the norm in an industry full of exceptional artists. Keep up the great work.


I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.

[ Parent ]
Thanks (none / 0) (#30)
by danimal on Tue Dec 18, 2001 at 11:22:16 PM EST

Thanks for your kind words. Now if only our parent company knew the same.

BTW, you're a good artist yourself.

<tin> we got hosed, tommy
<toy> clapclapclap
<tin> we got hosed

[ Parent ]

hmm (3.50 / 4) (#6)
by lvogel on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 04:28:52 PM EST

  1. Exponent
  2. A Prarie Home Companion(Garrison Keillor is awesome)
  3. National Public Radio
  4. Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena
  5. bikini salesman in Brazil

-- ----------------------
"When you're on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog!"

-a dog
Here's a few: (3.66 / 3) (#9)
by MicroBerto on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:05:39 PM EST

1. Parker-Hannifin - This is where I work and this company rules. 2. Cisco, ooh! I want to build hardware there 3. Any car company where I can integrate computer-engineered hardware to the car, ooh! 4. APK Net - APK Net, a Cleveland, OH based ISP that I worked for! 5. CIA - Hey, if you can't lick em, join em! 6. Cleveland Browns - Needless to say, today's game was COMPLETE bullshit!

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
wow (none / 0) (#19)
by MicroBerto on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 10:52:49 PM EST

looks like i forgot how to use HTML. Sorry guys! :)

Guess I've been at Parker for too long and forgot all my APK skills!

- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

Five I'd go for (3.25 / 4) (#10)
by Perpetual Newbie on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:18:22 PM EST

Five jobs I've imagined having, though only two of them are strictly for companies:

1: For the government: Pay's fair, but beyond that you actually get benefits and insurance, and your boss can't fire you on a whim once you pass probation. I don't have the skill level to demand these things in the private sector.

2: As the government: I feel like I could be a Senator, o/~ if I could get out of this plaaace o/~. Or a Congressman's aide until I meet the age requirement. Maybe I should team up with dram and BOred and we can go stage a coup.

3: Local kickass ISP: Because they're really cool, founded by a couple nerds out of the local city college, heavily into Unix and Linux. Unfortunately, like most employers they pull this "you're not really an employee" bullshit, so you don't get any benefits or any of your legal rights as an employee.

4: Myself, in a self-owned computer store: Something I've dreamed of doing. However, the market is too saturated for me to be successful at this.

5: AT&T: Or any Big Telecomm, this is just the one most in the public eye here. I have an interest in learning how their systems work, and my job would be relatively stable.

Heh heh... (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by Rocky on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 11:31:33 AM EST

> 5: AT&T: Or any Big Telecomm, this is just the one most in the public eye here. I have an interest in learning how their systems work, and my job would be relatively stable.

Nope. Jobs in these companies are far from stable at this point.

Telecoms are one big train wreck right now, especially AT&T, Lucent, etc.

Trust me. I know.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
[ Parent ]
I have no company names (3.60 / 5) (#11)
by DesiredUsername on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:31:30 PM EST

Just a description: A small (less than 100 emp), scientific and/or engineering firm. If it was large within that range, I'd want to be a programmer only doing in-house analysis and maybe some in-the-field or even shrink-wrapped software. If the company was on the small end of that range, I'd want to do all the above plus some of the IT stuff. It would be a plus if this company was into renewable energy or something similar. And if they were located across the street. Also, the secretaries would be disease-free and available for sex over the lunch hour. Oh, and a good ESOP would be nice.

Play 囲碁
That was my issue... (2.00 / 1) (#13)
by phallen on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:49:29 PM EST

Yeah, I had a great description of what I wanted, too. It's hard to match a company to it. Google doesn't find stuff very well when you paste an entire paragraph into the search field :)

[ Parent ]
I understand the dilemma... (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by UncleMikey on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:46:49 PM EST

I just got done with a post-lay-off job search.

Of course, in the current economy, that's basically the equivalent of saying I just crawled my way out of Hell and into Purgatory :-)

But the point here is that I, too, had no good idea where I wanted to work. And it's tough, because recruiters, especially, ask that kind of thing. "Where do you want to work. Where can we try to sell yourn name?" Answer: "Anywhere with an interesting problem. I'm naturally flexible and anyway, right now, I'm on the dole queue. I won't clean toilets, but I'll work for any company that isn't 100% morally reprehensible and has interesting problems to solve."

They don't know quite what to do with that, but I'm glad I stuck to it. I'm about to sign an offer with a nice, small company, five minutes from my home, whose main business is in an industry completely different from anything I've ever worked in before. And I'm overjoyed, not just because I can get off Governor Ventura's involutnary payroll, but because I'm going to apply my skills to do something totally new and different.

So, I guess my answer winds up going along in the same vein as many others here: not so much 'where' as 'what kind':
  • Small, or at least a small engineering division. Tight knit teams work well.
  • Close to home. I was willing to travel as much as an hour away, but I prefer 5 minutes :-) Unlike others here, tho', I don't think I want to work at home. I like the idea that my work clutter and home clutter are separate
  • Interesting problems worth solving. Prove to me that your problem will make even one person's life noticably better (even if only superficially) and no-one's worse, and I'm yours.
  • Flexible attitude. I bring a great deal of flexibility in; I expect to get it back. I don't want to have to fill out forms in triplicate before I can go a doctor's appointment, and if I have a family or close-friend emergency and have to run, the question to ask is not, "Where do you think you're going?" but "What can I do to help?"
  • Profit. Yes, this matters. I spent six years working for a company that never made a profit. I wound up booted to the street with incomplete severance ahead of a Chapter 11 filing. I don't insist that the company be making a profit when I join it; but from now on, I'm going to want to be convinced that the company can make a profit doing what it's doing.

[ Uncle Mikey | Radio Free Tomorrow ]
Biotech (3.25 / 4) (#14)
by Nickus on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 05:55:03 PM EST

Work for a biotech research facility. I work as the main unix sysadmin for such a place. Lot of interesting things going on, lots of interesting people to talk to. You get to play with terabytes of data (and figure out how to do backups), clusters and all kind of funky stuff.

Yes, I would like to work for the place I work for :-)

Due to budget cuts, light at end of tunnel will be out. --Unknown
I want no company to boss me around! (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 06:40:11 PM EST

So I will put my ideal "carrier paths":

1.-I would like to be an independent merce^H^H^H^H^Hcontrator advising people how to use the best tool for their work.

2.- I would like to work again in a research institute. And get paid for it. Properly.
3.- I would like to be a teacher.

4.- I would like to collaborate with an organization that does something charitable or socially important (Amnesty International, Green Peace).

5.-I would like to forget about IT and become a piano player.

Since none of the above would provide an appropriate income, and lets face it, my piano playing abilities suck terribly (and my altruistic leanings are not strong enough as well), my realistic list is the following:

1.- Sun: I have been in the client side of things dealing with Sun many times and the capacity of the people there really impresses me.

2.- Yahoo!: all what they do seems cool and fun.

3.- A F1 racing team that should remain nameless: they do have suitable positions for people like me, and the cool factor is big. And they are here in my own town! (they don't have openings often:-( )

4.- RedHat.

5.- The goverment of my country. They badly need a clue or two in many IT areas.

Good nonsensical comment to celebrate that K5 is back, Yupeeee!

Professorship? (none / 0) (#28)
by MrAcheson on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 05:58:00 PM EST

You could acheive 1-3 or 1-4 (depending upon how you define the social good) by becoming a college professor. You make good money once you get to be a prof, can contract outside the uni for extra money/status, and teach. The disadvantage is that when you look at what you make after 6 years of graduate education and 2 years of post-doc, its pitiful compared to the amount of time you put into the whole proposition. You also can't be anything other than a prof somewhere by the time your done because there aren't that many jobs for Ph.Ds out there.

These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.

[ Parent ]
I'm game... (4.50 / 2) (#16)
by SvnLyrBrto on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 08:06:46 PM EST

Well, at this point, given my current (un)employment situation, I'd take almost anything. That, and I'm looking to shift my search patterns bigtime... more detial on that in a future diary entry.

As of right now tho, if I could pick and choose, I would be shooting for a combination of fun + challenging + cool people:

Pixar Animation Studios

Apple Computer

Sierra (Or is it Origin? Or does EA own the lot of them now?)

City Hall (As mayor of San Francisco, the most insanely great city in all of the Americas, and possibly the world)

If I could somehow make a living working for/with DanceSafe, I'd do so.

Honerable mentions:

I would like to have worked at Netscape; in the glory days before microsoft and aol decided they wanted to own the entire internet and teamed uo to gut Netscape.

Ditto with Be, but drop aol from the list of aggressors above.

I read somewhere that no employee of Oracle is ever more than thirty yards from a Starbucks-grade espresso station. Sweet, sweet caffeine!!!!

SGI would be pretty sweet; except for their location. Commuting on 101 is a fate I wouldn't wish on my ENEMIES.

The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. I just gotta admire a workplace that goes by an acronym that is pronounced "slack".

Loki would've been cool. Except that they're in LA. And they went bankrupt. Oh well.

Can't forget the childhood fantasies of rock star and astronaut. Although *I* would probably choose "Superstar DJ" over "Rock Star".

More realisticly, I plan, one day, to go back to school for a PhD, and become a professor. UC Berkeley would be ideal. UC Santa Cruz would also be kinda nice, but SC is too isolated from the rest of the Bay Area to top my list. If I were ever to change my mind about not wanting children, Stanford would be high on my list, so they could attend Palo Alto schools. Otherwise, Stanford is to stuffy, preppy, and yuppie for my tastes.


Imagine all the people...

Coffee (none / 0) (#21)
by plug on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 10:42:08 AM EST

Damn right and possibly more important than people, money and job. Cisco's Belgium office have the best free coffee I've had from a vending machine. Anyware.

"If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish him."Mikhail Bakunin
[ Parent ]

Watch DVDs all day (3.00 / 3) (#17)
by I am Jack's username on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 08:19:26 PM EST

Anything at the university of Sabishii, Mars.
Oh, in RL?

Erm, how about astronomy or meteorology studies in Antarctica?
Oh, I have to be qualified to do it.

Admin the Federation of African Green Parties web site and communications!
Have to make enough money off it to live? Bummer.

Work with the renewable energy projects at the local university, yeah that's it!
It's been cancelled? Why?

Screw this, I'm gonna go read more cartoons...
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell

My list (5.00 / 2) (#18)
by tzanger on Sun Dec 16, 2001 at 09:44:26 PM EST

  1. Work for myself. Contract engineering for hardware and software and packaging. Unfortunately I'm a bit of a chicken shit right now about it, with a huge debt load and a very young family. Maybe in a while. Actually it will happen, I just am not sure when.
  2. Benshaw. This is where I learned a lot of what I know now. I got my thirst for power electronics and getting out and seeing how people actually use the stuff I design and why they curse it here at Benshaw. :-) I came here in November of 1996 right out of high school. The words "RS232/RS485 serial communications" was the clincher on my resume, as Benshaw was just getting into that. I ended up designing the RediStart Digital for them and met some amazing people, including an engineer who has become my mentor and the president of Benshaw Canada, who I think will be a lifetime friend. This would likely be my dream job but it's too constrained (power electronics) and the parent company has some big issues. The Canadian division I work for is incredible. Incredible people, incredible management, incredible incredible.
  3. TB Wood's. This company was introduced to me from Benshaw. Their products rock, their engineering team rocks and they have an incredible main engineering building. It was an original factory from the 1800s and it's been restored. Beautiful cielings, original wood and iron; inspirational. I want the kind of patience and extreme variety of talents that all of the engineering team has brought together. It's a very large, multinational company and I'd never be able to survive there, but I'd like to see just how far I could get in a huge company. That, and have extremely cheap access to multilayer PCB manufacture and stuffing, a clean room for COB designs, a killer power lab, and those cielings... wow.
  4. Another large company, Nortel. And for pretty much the same reasons as TB Wood's. I want to work on cool new hardware and see how far I can get in a huge company. Of course, now that they've laid off practically everyone and have some major class action shit coming their way this is more of a was than an is. :-)
  5. Nuvation Labs, a "venture engineering" company I interviewed at in California. I turned it down because I didn't want to be so far from my family here in Ontario but also because if I was going to live in sunny Cali, I wanted to make damned sure I was paying off so much debt so damned fast that I would be able to retire at 40.

Somewhere in that list would be SS Technologies. I met the founder/president years and years ago and at the time (I was in grade 9 or 10 I think), it was like Benshaw. Unfortunately he died in a hang-gliding accident if memory serves and the company is now owned by Woodhead corp and I'm not keen on potentially repeating my time with a parent company who can't get their head out of their arse. SST makes some killer industrial communications equipment though and there are a lot of smart, interesting people. I interviewed there twice actually.

My top 5 list? (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by under a tree on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 09:54:53 AM EST

1) Nobody
2) Nobody
3) Nobody
4) Nobody
and 5) Nobody!

I'd rather not have to work for anyone. Except maybe myself but I've done that before and even that isn't the best...

For myself, naturally... (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by cr0sh on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 02:10:13 PM EST

1) For myself: as an independent consultant, making a lot of money, and setting my own hours - drawbacks would be all the legal/accounting shit you have to go through.

2) Cybermind UK: imagine this - working for an entertainment VR company, whose roots come from the original W Industries from the early 90's, developing new VR hardware and software for amusement. Imagine the cast off equipment you could procure...

3) Honda Humanoid Robotics Division - cutting edge android design, and maybe a free CRV to boot! Drawback would be not knowing any Japanese...

4) McMaster Motor - just to be there to witness the birth of a new engine technology - wow...

5) Working with this dude on the Colliding Beam Fusion Reactor: a lot of smart people say this should work, and from what I understand he is getting private funding to continue with the design. The idea of being there to usher in a new form of energy production - blows me away. Drawbacks would be I would lack of education in Nuclear Physics, etc.

So, there you have it - my top five "dream" jobs. If you notice, most of them deal with cutting edge (bleeding edge? fringe edge?) technology - some of which may or may not work. Still, I think it would be worth trying, and being there - kinda like being there when the first AC generator was started up at Niagra Falls, or when the first Tesla coil was fired - oooh...

Hmm (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by DJBongHit on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 02:59:33 PM EST

Well, I've spent the last 12 years of my life, from age 9 onward, being 100% sure of what I wanted to do with my life, and it involved programming. After ACTUALLY working programming jobs, I've come to the conclusion that this entire industry is fucked up and I'm not sure I want to have any part of it any more. So this week I'm going out and applying for jobs where I actually get to interact with people, preferably the occasional female even, and jobs where I'm not sitting on my ass chain smoking all day.

So while I may have been able to answer this question a few months ago, I'll have to get back to you this time.


GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

industry vs activity (5.00 / 1) (#31)
by kubalaa on Wed Dec 19, 2001 at 11:00:08 AM EST

This is obvious, but don't forget that being in an industry and doing an activity are completely different things. A skill like management, it's obvious; there are managers in every industry. Programming, not so, but it's a damn useful skill; I bet if you look around you can find a way to keep doing what you like without being a part of The Industry.

[ Parent ]
Academia (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by Nyarlathotep on Thu Jan 03, 2002 at 04:29:00 PM EST

I'm getting my PhD. in mathematics and I want to work in adademia.. so I mostly just want to get these two papers I'm starting on out the door by the end of the symester (wish me luck).

Anyway, if I was not working in mathematics and I was stuck doing code/admin monkey type junk (ick), I would likely try to find work at a Biotech company. These seem to be doing more interesting things then almost everyone else.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
Top 5 Companies You Want To Work For, For Any Reason | 32 comments (31 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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