I have been working at FU Associates full-time
I very much enjoy working as part of a truly collaborative team at Fu Associates, especially after coming from a highly political work culture that had become toxic for me at my previous job. I had tried for three years to get a comparable new job without any luck, and so finally I decided to change tack and go back to software development, if I could get back in at middle age. I learned about Fu Associates through a friend, and fortunately Ed Fu offered me a position even though my coding skills had lain fallow for more than a decade, and at much less of a pay cut than I had feared. But I am learning and growing again, in a 40-hour-a-week job, and in a very supportive environment in which I am not blamed for everything for a change. This is the happiest I've been in a long time. It is just so nice to just work with competent, positive colleagues and get things done, and not have to worry about how to navigate around incompetent and/or difficult people whose egos must be stroked (or else they will retaliate, because they are insecure about more competent people showing them up). It is a testament to the positive environment that a significant fraction of the company has been working at Fu Associates for 20 years, and the Federal client also continues its ongoing contract with the company for such a long time, too. This contrasts with my previous company where people (particularly the ones I liked) were seeking escape routes right and left. Other aspects I like: free food is provided at work (real food, like roasted turkey and spaghetti carbonara). Though the salaries are lower at the front end, the end-of-year bonus and automatic 10% 401K match make up for this quite a bit. The health insurance is also more generous than at my previous company: at Fu, there is no monthly fee, and there is a $1000 deductible before copays and coinsurance kick in. At my previous job, I had to pay $100/month just to have insurance - so that was $1200 out of my pocket before I even saw a doctor - and though there were copays for office visits, my deductible was also $1500 for in-network (and higher for out-of-network). My eye exam and contact lenses cost me zero last year, as opposed to what I had to pay even with vision coverage at my previous job. Good benefits have real value! Also, though the work is what it is - Fu Associates is a contractor that is paid to do work in support of a Federal agency, after all - and therefore the projects can work on all fall within a certain scope, there still is room to learn new skill sets as projects get done. And we are not expected to work any more than 40 hours per week while doing so, so there is time for a rich personal life, too. The management is very approachable and supportive. And I am learning from highly qualified people who are happy staying at Fu Associates because they value this support (believe me, it is all too easy to end up working for psychopaths in the DC contractor world).
Yes, the office is pretty shabby-looking in a lot of ways, as other reviews have indicated. You don't really notice it after the first couple of weeks, though. I will take a shabby office over toxic work culture any day. This isn't the place to be doing cutting-edge software development. Let's face it, though, the Federal government has to go with proven technologies for software that serves a national clientele. It is what it is, and it pays the bills. But you only have to work 40 hours a week, so you have the free time to learn the newer technologies if that is what you want to move towards in your next job. The company isn't the perfect place for everyone, and some roles and/or managers may be more difficult than others. This happens everywhere. An employee should figure out how to resolve a conflict or else move on.
Advice to Management
Keep Fu Associates weird! The loyalty of your long-time employees says so much. You have achieved the dream: a workplace where it really is just about people getting the work done, not about parasitic political types trying to advance themselves by throwing other people under the bus. Please keep it this way, as it gives me hope that more workplaces can operate like this.
I applied through an employee referral. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at FU Associates.
A friend who works at the company passed my resume to the top manager, and we arranged an interview via email. When I finally came in for the interview, late on a Friday afternoon, we discussed my experience in software development, why I was looking to change career path from my previous job. I also met with two of the developers and a project manager, mostly to see whether I could be a decent cultural fit.
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