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Take a bite out of this apple?
The moment you make the crossover to the slick side of Apple products, is the moment when you usually get introduced to the enthusiastic, knowledgeable people behind the product. All they want to do is talk about Apple, ask you about Apple and suggest you buy even more Apple. On top of it, they seem to be truly passionate about … Apple. This may be because unlike makers and sellers of most other brands that produce computers, phones, tablets and so on, Apple people are part of a unique culture that verges on an obsession. Similar to Lululemon or Google, to work at Apple you truly have to believe in the product (or fake it really well) and your loyalty has to show. Just open the Jobs at Apple page and see the happy faces of the employees — if you’ve ever been to an Apple store you know that this is no false advertising: “Show your passion and expertise as you connect customers with our products and help integrate products into their lives. Be a part of our team and change the way the world works, plays, creates, and communicates,” reads the tagline.
There are two kinds of career paths at Apple: corporate or retail. (In Canada, the Apple corporate office is located in Mississauga and there are four retail stores in Toronto, plus near Toronto there is one in Mississauga, one in Newmarket and one in Burlington.)
On the corporate level you mostly work behind the scenes — in the sense that you deal directly with developing and selling the product and are part of the creative, financial, sales, technical and marketing part of Apple. This is where you’d find hardware engineers, software engineers, marketing professionals, legal teams, IT teams, design people and even real estate pros “in charge of securing the best locations available world-wide” to set up Apple retail stores or corporate offices. In terms of retail, there are a number of positions with some really interesting titles ... (ahem, trying to glorify much?). So, for example, in management you can work as market leader, store leader, and on the store floor, you can even call yourself a genius (a troubleshooting and product expert).
In terms of benefits, Apple states: “Your particular benefits package will depend on your position, location, and years with the company.” Health and life insurance, tuition assistance, product discounts, paid vacations, employee stock purchase plan and more are some of the benefits available at Apple. Besides actual benefits, many Apple employees rate the company quite high, outlining some of the positive sides to working there such as:
- An ever-changing, dynamic environment
- Improvement of sale skills
- Great people to work with
- The opportunity to grow
- Flexible schedules
- Product discounts (According to one review of the internal culture at Apple, employees get “one computer system at 25 per cent off per year, with three 15 per cent discounts for friends and family. [An] on-campus store includes the only Apple swag you'll probably ever see, and all software there is 50 per cent off.”)
The above list is compiled from an Apple Employer Reviews forum. Interestingly what some people found to be a positive side of working for Apple, others found troubling and difficult (example: the corporate atmosphere). There were many positive comments about working in customer services, many superlatives about the fast pace, great people, fun work environment. Many of the reviews talk about working with customers and finding this to be a positive experience. This Forbes article quotes Apple’s most important principle: “The goal of the firm is to delight its customers." The Want A Job At Apple? Watch This Recruiting Video For A Taste Of The Infinite Loop Life article provides an Apple recruiter video as well a video featuring an interview with Adam Lashinksy, author of Inside Apple, which may shed some light about how the company is structured and what the working environment is like. There is a belief out there that “it's harder to get a job at Apple than it is to get into Stanford,” and, according to the U.K. article How to Get a Job at Apple by James Holland, “Estimates currently put the number of applicants for each Apple retail job at around 200. That’s right, you’ll need to out-perform 199 other people to get that coveted Apple ID badge.” (FYI: Since he’s aware of the difficulty of getting a job at Apple, Holland offers some really great tips on how to get into the company, so check out his article.)
The article Apple’s Retail Army, Long on Loyalty but Short on Pay by David Segal for The New York Times, opens with an anecdote about an Apple employee who made $750,000 in sales in three months. He was earning $11.25 an hour. Further on, the article talks about the unprecedented loyalty of Apple employees (for example, geniuses have an annual retention rate of 90 per cent — not something you see in the retail industry) but there’s little upward mobility, an insane work pace (and due to this, problems with taking breaks) and, consistently, low pay is mentioned by the more disillusioned former employees. The company is able to recruit and retain so many people because many of them are Apple product fans (fanatics?) already, and it sounds as if there’s this atmosphere of competitiveness during the hiring process that gives the future employees the illusion of being chosen to do something really special. (“One manager said it was common for people offered jobs to burst into tears.”)
There is a blog out there (please be warned about offensive language) by a former Apple employee who has some really shocking things to say about his stint at an Apple retail store, from low morale to discrimination (this was also mentioned in The New York Times article), to ridiculous product features and even bad grammar. In the article Actually, Sometimes It Sucks To Work At Apple — Here's Why a number of problems are listed, from lack of work/life balance, small or non-existent raises, bureaucracy, extremely high expectations, and more.
In the end, it’s up to you to make your own judgment about this company but do lots of research before you invest in something that may look slick and pretty but may shortchange you in the end. We’d love to talk to one of the current Apple employees (in our In Conversation With … Q&As) to give you even more insight on what it’s like to work there but, unfortunately, Apple prohibits its staff from talking to media.
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