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I worked in a startup as a web developer and it was really unsuitable for me. I don't like making friends at work, going out to eat with the team, having to go get drinks, team lunches, "team outings", meetups, open offices, or having to fit in with the culture. I just want a job where I can show up, get my work done, and go home. With no pressure to see them after that.

Unfortunately most web dev jobs are in start ups with this atmosphere. How do I find a job that is as corporate as possible? Ideally it would be a large company that's very depersonalised, with private offices or at least sectioned off. No pressure to try to fit the culture.

EDIT: I would love to work remotely, but I am still a junior dev, so that seems unlikely.

EDIT 2: Might help to answer the question: I'm in London, UK.

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    Is it corporate or working w older people? – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 27 '17 at 8:22
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    I am like you after years of working in places that have an expectation to be friends with colleagues. I go in and I am friendly enough to them, but I also draw a line. I'm honest with them, and surprisingly they understand. Like they feel they have to be friends, but I'm not in to that. And I've done that in many places, startups etc. – mickburkejnr Jun 27 '17 at 10:18
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    “most web dev jobs are in start ups with this atmosphere” — are they? “I don't like making friends at work, going out to eat with the team, having to go get drinks, team lunches, "team outings", meetups, open offices, or having to fit in with the culture.” — Some “corporate” jobs are like this too. – Paul D. Waite Jun 27 '17 at 12:26
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    Only about the "open offices" vs. "private offices" part: you have it backwards. In small startups the likelihood of getting a private office is slim to none, but for large companies it's much much less than that. – SantiBailors Jun 27 '17 at 14:11
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    "open offices," -- the more corporate a company is, the more into open plan offices they are. So your questions seems self-contradictory. – Mark Joshi Jun 28 '17 at 2:51
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How do I find a job that is as corporate as possible? Ideally it would be a large company that's very depersonalised, with private offices or at least sectioned off. No pressure to try to fit the culture.

Work with a headhunter in an agency. Specify exactly what you want, and what you don't want. Expect to wait a while while the headhunter finds you a suitable position.

Or, go the contractor route. Often contractors are able to do pretty much what you seek - come in, do the work, go home, make no friends, and interact with others seldom. You'll have to check for yourself about the "open office" thing.

Sometimes a company's website hints at their culture - check for a "careers" page or a "work with us" page. Usually the ones who offer the kind of culture you'd rather avoid tend to boast about it. Look for a company with no such page, or one that just lists jobs and doesn't talk at all about company culture.

You could also browse a site where folks review their companies, like Glassdoor. Look for companies that are rated poorly with people complaining about exactly the things you would prefer.

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    Interesting way of using Glassdoor! – R. Que Jun 26 '17 at 13:29
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    Pure genius. Brilliant use, not just for glassdoor, but anything. People are more likely to complain, and looking for people complaining about things you like is a great filter! – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jun 26 '17 at 13:36
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    Generally good advice, as always - but a "junior dev" would not make a good contractor unless they have another super power in an associated role. – PeteCon Jun 26 '17 at 15:56
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    +1 for mentioning contracting. This is exactly what contractors at my workplace do even if everyone else gets along and talks a lot. – sirdank Jun 26 '17 at 16:11
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    I contracted for a while. No one talked to me. No one made eye contact. No one asked me out to lunch. The boss, not wanted to use up all my hours, told me to leave at 5. It was great. – Tony Ennis Jun 27 '17 at 3:53
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Avoid:

  • open office plans
  • startups
  • places which put off a 'hip' persona
  • companies with a generally young workforce
  • companies that advertise too many perks, like catered meals every day and game rooms

Look for:

  • larger and well-established companies
  • companies that advertise as "family friendly" or "good work-life balance"
  • older coworkers, who typically skew towards valuing time outside the office
  • more "serious" sectors (i.e. security or defense, think places where some people wear suits every day) = less flashy, generally attract a more mature and traditional demographic
  • government jobs

Obviously I'm generalizing a bit here, but in my experience these are good starting points. Of course, there's no problem with asking in an interview about what sort of team building events they hold or the type of office setup.

As stated by others here, you can't get ahead nowadays without making some attempt to fit into company culture. But there are still plenty of jobs where you can maintain pleasant professional relationships while keeping your private life separate, just a matter of targeting your job search appropriately.

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    Banks, hospitals, and law offices are all good places to start. Any large organization where the industry is heavily regulated will foster a "corporate" atmosphere that the OP is looking for. – Doktor J Jun 26 '17 at 15:24
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    Government jobs especially. Try and get in at a correctional/prison agency, that has the culture OP is looking for. – Dinglemeyer NeverGonnaGiveUUp Jun 26 '17 at 15:42
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    Older Workers + traditional industry is something you can't go wrong with. – Shantnu Tiwari Jun 26 '17 at 15:57
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    Plenty of government jobs have open-plan offices. – gerrit Jun 27 '17 at 11:33
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    @DmitryGrigoryev prison websites would not be for the public and not for the inmates. Well, some features for public (find an offender, victim/witness info, etc). How do you think they manage the information for thousands of incarcerated individuals? There's an app, and lots of developers. This may depend on the jurisdiction, in my state while I worked for DOC there were multiple dev shops maintaining all the different applications. At the same time, my mental health was at it's lowest while working there... Knowing the data, our society ain't as safe as we think it is. – Dinglemeyer NeverGonnaGiveUUp Jun 27 '17 at 20:28
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Hey it sounds like you want my job! I work for the government, and from what I've seen, this is about the only place that still holds on to the sort of culture you're describing. High degree of "siloing", usually because you're the only developer for a jurisdiction; low amount of experience required because you're usually not working with super-new tech or complicated UI; generally low-stress... And you get government healthcare, almost guaranteed annual raises, lots of holidays, and a pension.

I'm new to answering on WPSE; is it appropriate to post the job site where we're about to be hiring developers?

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    I'm in! Where do I send my resume! :) – PeteCon Jun 26 '17 at 15:57
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    Check out your local city/county/state government. There are a lot of reasons government is unlikely to have much of the buddy-buddy, "go team!" mentality that you're trying to avoid. And it's generally very stable. Especially now for developers, with so many government services moving away from paper and onto the web. – Kristen Hammack Jun 26 '17 at 18:13
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    Not to rain on your parade, but there are downsides to being a developer for the government. Many agencies greatly prefer to use contractors for actual development... if you are government, even if the job description seems like it involves development, it may actually be more administrative. Another downside is tech... sometimes it's hard to get permission to upgrade things and use newer technologies. Also the skill level and motivation of the team members can be "mixed". Just a word of caution. – JoelFan Jun 27 '17 at 2:49
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    @JoelFan I agree, there are lots of things that a lot of people would hate about working for the government, but most of them are the exact things that the OP was asking for. Everyone that I work with came from a much more fast-paced environment, like banking, marketing or start-ups. They are capable, motivated, and happy with the less stressful environment they've found. That's just my experience, I know, but I think the public has a pretty skewed vision of what it looks like to work for the government. – Kristen Hammack Jun 27 '17 at 13:02
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    Good old days. If not for incompetent managers and wet blanket colleagues, I'd miss my old government job. There is not much room to grow though, because no one is pushing you for a harder challenge. – sdkks Jun 27 '17 at 14:17
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The good news: I think you should have no great trouble finding what you seek, you can influence it yourself, massively.

TL;DR: change yourself, not your company (with minor exceptions).

Obviously, look for companies that embrace home office work. Aside from that:

I don't like making friends at work,

I have, in fact, never seen a place where people wanted to be friends. I have witnessed plenty of people in the office where I would never ever have the slightest intention to befriend them, and where it still was easily possible to work together with them.

You don't even need to be all smiles and happy face, in most places. You should be generally acceptable though, i.e. don't start growling whenever someone passes you.

going out to eat with the team,

Just say "no", done. Don't explain, don't complain, just don't do it. They will pick it up very quickly and it should be no problem. If it is, that is if your company actually wants to enforce this, then you might have a small chat with your boss, and if he absolutely insists, then look for a new job. I'd say most companies of a decent size should be fine in this aspect.

having to go get drinks,

Drinks?! A requirement for careers? Around here (in a country where alcohol is flowing freely, in private), if someone were to order even a light alcoholic beverage, in a team of "technical" people, it would be weird.

Besides, why do you care about what people do. Even if you should happen to find yourself in company with someone ordering a proper drink - just don't do it, order water or a coke, or nothing.

team lunches,

Just say no, same as above. Bring your own stuff, eat alone. Convince them that you prefer a period of stillness or a walk instead of eating. Again, if there is real pressure, look for another employer, but I'd say you should have no trouble finding one where this is acceptable to skip.

"team outings",

If it is a simple thing (going bowling), just say no. Same as above. If the company is throwing a big event (high costs involved, the whole company or department going somewhere, with upper management addressing the mob), then it may just be that you would indeed be served well with being there. Stick through it, be done with it. This should not happen all to often.

meetups,

Meetups to discuss work really cannot be avoided - clearly this is a thing you have to work on. You still can keep it strictly business.

open offices,

Sometimes hard to avoid if there just are not enough closed spaces. Bring a big headset with noise cancellation...

or having to fit in with the culture.

Most "hippster" cultures appreciate individuality. Those cultures that do not are probably exactly what you are looking for (e.g., the business suite mentality)?

One thing that makes you seem to fit in without hurting you too much is just to grit your teeth and clothe vaguely like the average guy around you. I.e., if everyone is running around in business shirts, then just get some yourself, etc. You don't need to splash tons of money, or clothe yourself really uncomfortable; just try not to stick out that much.

I just want a job where I can show up, get my work done, and go home.

Sure, plenty of people do that. The trick is to encapsulate the things you cannot possibly avoid (meeting other people to talk about work) so that it part of "getting work done".

If you actually just want to get mechanical work doled out by a ticket system and never ever talk to anybody, then, as a web developer, you're basically out of luck.

You could look into maintenance, low level support (where you hunt for non-spectacular everyday bugs in applications), etc., and carve out a niche for you. Ask for all the boring, mechanical work that most other people are not happy about. Make sure people do not send the stuff to you by phone or mail, but by using a ticket system (you can find good reasons for that which are not related to your social preferences).

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    I would second this, adult people generally respect other people. At work most important is to get the work done. If you are not into team-whatever, you can expect others to respect that. – Tero Lahtinen Jun 27 '17 at 16:52
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    Agreed, adults are generally respectful, at least on face value. I've noticed however 'this' type of co-worker typically generates rumors and a reputation, albeit unprofessionally, and has zero scope for promotion. But to one who cares less, it is of no consequence. On a personal note, reading this and other answers I'm just amazed at how extroverted I didn't realize I am. – sMaN Jun 28 '17 at 3:18
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    Wow, what an unhelpful answer. You didn't answer the OP's question, you just told them they're wrong for being who they are. You take it step further, making assumptions on their dress, giving "just suck it up" pedantry, and tactics for coping in the kind of work environment they've specifically asked to avoid. I'm an introvert as well, and while I can and do do a lot of the things you say above, I don't enjoy them. I've also led teams and companies, and had no problem getting meaningful, well-paying work. Try answering the OP's question, instead of projecting your personality onto them. – skoczen Jun 29 '17 at 6:47
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    Sorry if this answer offends you, @skoczen. It's supposed to be practical help to fit around the realities of the jobs that are actually out there, enlarging the set of jobs possible for him to accept. I don't see where I told him that he is wrong; I offered ways for him to actively change his perception on some things, and practical advice how to respond in some situations, to lessen his problem. Getting such tools into his toolbelt is surely useful. In the last paragraph, specifically, I mention a job description where this kind of non-interaction is likely to be the norm. – AnoE Jun 29 '17 at 7:28
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    @skoczen: I am not saying "you are wrong for asking this". If I were to do that, I would answer "you have to be friends with everyone". I am offering help to make it easier for the OP to solve his problem (which is to avoid the overly social relationships in companies). Yes, it is a tangent to his actual question. No, it is neither condescending nor telling him that he's wrong or telling him to suck it up (where did you get that idea from?). I feel your comments are extremely aggressive; feel free to continue, I am happy to agree to disagree here and let the voters solve our little conflict. – AnoE Jun 29 '17 at 13:56
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Don't think of it in terms of "corporate" vs "startup." There are "corporate" jobs with that same atmosphere, and the troubles you have with it in the "startup" environment are simply amplified a thousand times over. Instead, think about the environment in which you work best, then find jobs that fill those requirements, regardless of whether the company is a "corporate" company or a "startup."

Here in the US, at least, when a company gets sufficiently large, individual departments start becoming "startup-like," rendering most of the assumptions about large companies incorrect (I've personally seen this with Google, Chase, and Wendy's). Also, don't just look at the catch phrases like "family-friendly" or "work-life balance," make note of actual policies and culture that indicate work/life balance, such as generous PTO and parental leave that people actually use (even if you don't plan to personally use it). A (true) "results-oriented/only work environment" will also tend to be more flexible and appreciative of one's personal time.

I recommend having a look at companies that are largely or entirely remote (this allows you to have your own office/working environment), and that work on a single, mature product (so you're largely just working tickets). As others have mentioned, short term contract jobs often have similar to what you're looking for (and if they don't fill all of them, they can be short enough to live with).

7

Sadly I think you'll struggle to escape those things entirely. I do sympathize though, nine times out of ten I utterly loathe any sort of company-enforced "socializing" - but if you're working permanently somewhere then avoiding all that tends to be rather career limiting unfortunately. Going "corporate" won't really change that much I'm afraid.

Probably a better bet would be to instead look at contracting or freelance work. Even better look for roles where you are principally telecommuting.

  • Working remotely is a very wise tip - really at a stroke it resolves the problems here. – Fattie Jun 26 '17 at 14:43
  • +1 for telecommuting. Was about to add that in anwser of my own. – HopelessN00b Jun 28 '17 at 20:07
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Be careful with what you wish for... ;)

While you are right when saying that you are going to find most of these things in small companies/startups, the oposite is not true for corporate jobs. I'd even say that the more corporate a job is, the more BS like this are you going to find.

As other people are answering, if I were you I would like for companies in the public sector, with older workforce or with "family friendly" work-life balance. Avoid startups, but also avoid large corporations.

Finally, if everything else fails, you can try contracting.

4

My friend, come to Mexico, trust me, the banking developers jobs are what you need.

For a long time ago, I'd want a job like in a startup but here is more difficult find it.

Then I'm working in a bank, I guess that in USA the banks are the same type of jobs and there is many options for Juniors developers.

4

I don't like making friends at work, going out to eat with the team, having to go get drinks, team lunches, "team outings", meetups, open offices, or having to fit in with the culture. I just want a job where I can show up, get my work done, and go home.

It's not clear to me whether you're objecting to the high levels of socialization because you consider it excessive for your tastes, or simply because you're highly introverted and don't want to work heavily with other people even on the job. In either case, you may be better off seeking smaller projects or an "individual contributor" role.

While other people are an inherent part of any business, some roles require more interaction than others. Being the night operator in a small network operations center, the maintenance programmer for a legacy application, or the sole developer of a much smaller web project are just a few examples of jobs where you could more reasonably expect fewer teaming or startup-culture expectations. Filtering in jobs that mention "individual contributor," "small team," or "minimal supervision" can be a good starting point for these type of lone-wolf roles, but you'll still need to ask sensible questions about culture and environment during your interviews.

If your discomfort is more about the extracurricular socializing than about teaming on the job, then a remote job (and yes, there are junior remote jobs out there) would make it a non-issue. You can also make sure you that ask more questions about the work-life balance of prospective employers, and filter out opportunities that focus on things that you personally find unsuitable. Remember that interviewing is a two-way street, and don't pass up this opportunity to learn as much as you can about a potential employer!

The problem with the generic advice to leverage recruiters is that retained and contingent placement is generally paid for by the employers, so the recruiters don't work for you. Telling a recruiter what your work-culture or work-environment preferences are is certainly worthwhile, but if you can ask a recruiter to filter out job opportunities for you then you can filter them out yourself, too. The key difference is experience; the really good recruiters can help you filter out opportunities that aren't a fit, or only bring ones to your attention that match your criteria. However, they will not beat the bushes for your perfect opportunity, and if you're a difficult placement you are likely to be quietly dropped from their A-list.

Web development is only one type of programming, and programming is only one type of IT skill. If you can't find what you want in terms of environment and fit as a web developer, you might consider making a lateral career move or switching career tracks altogether. You should examine all the related options where you have salable job skills, or learn new ones that will take you into career areas that are closed to you now.

  • My main discomfort is at extracurricular socialising, though yes I'd rather just keep to myself on the job too. At least now I know what questions to ask, after that terrible job experience. As for remote junior dev jobs, I've found only one so far. Unfortunately the website looks very bad for web dev company so I don't know if they can be trusted. Do you know where I could start searching for IT careers that require this minimal socialising? I'd be willing to learn new skills. – R. Que Jun 27 '17 at 6:45
  • @R.Que I think Dice is still the best bet when it comes to technical jobs, and it even offers the option to search just for remote jobs. Stack Overflow Careers does too, and many employers there post their "Joel Test" scores. Your mileage may vary. – CodeGnome Jun 28 '17 at 0:43

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