I have been working at Panasas full-time (More than 3 years)
I accepted a full-time Software Engineer position at Panasas in 2014 as I was completing my Ph.D. focused on Solid State Storage and Distributed File Systems. At that time I had simultaneous offers from Amazon, Micron, and Intel, and did substantial research on and spent time with those teams to make the best choice for my first (non-intern) Engineering job. While those larger names made compelling offers and interesting research and development was going on at those places, I decided on Panasas (and my very happily spent 2.5 years since joining have validated this decision) for the following reasons:
1. Work on Things that Matter: I wanted to join a small group or company that had the energy and sense of urgency of a startup; I was wholly disinterested in joining a group that was sailing on a sea of cash in a big company doing nothing of particular import. I want my contributions to both be necessary and impactful, and I have been able to design and deliver software in my role since joining that has had notable impact on our customers.
2. Meritocracy; not Ageitocracy: I desired an environment that rewarded folks based on intellect and contribution, not merely how many years you've spent heating a desk chair wearing a "Software Engineer" badge. Here at Panasas, if you come in and are eager and intelligent you will be recognized and rewarded. Having entered (and maintained) those traits, in the short 2.5 years I've been here I've sought and been given leadership roles on two major projects that are already shaping the company's future. Additionally, I've received promotion to Software Architect, a position that generally is not offered to persons with my (years of) experience in large companies simply because the bean-counters cannot justify it on paper. In short, at Panasas, meritocracy reigns.
3. Mature Software Life-Cycle: I wasn't ready to jump into a full-blown start-up because they tend to lack the development, testing, and product infrastructure to enable me to get both broad and deep experience with a full software life-cycle. Panasas particularly has a rich assortment of testing and simulation tools that have been developed over the last decade that make rapid engineering significantly easier. While imperfect, having started my own company during my Ph.D. I recognize just how powerful the tools we have at our disposal are in terms of maximizing productivity compared to starting from scratch.
4. A Tightly-Knit Team: I wanted to work with a group of engineers and managers you can both dig in and work long hours with to finish a project as well as kick back and have a beer with when it's all said and done. Both of these have occurred and I've made lasting friendships already here.
5. Competitive Compensation: It would be facetious of me to say compensation wasn't on my mind, especially as my first job and having attractive offers from the likes of Intel, Amazon, and Micron. Panasas provided a highly competitive offer, competed (and won) with counter-offers against those companies, and has since stood firm by that commitment to keep me with continuing compensation adjustments.
Panasas is not a great choice for you if you fall into any of these groups:
1. The Coaster: You expect to join with years of software engineering experience and just coast, committing a thing or two every so often. Just as eagerness and intellect are rapidly rewarded, sloth and ignorance are also recognized and equally rapidly dealt with.
2. Refactor Everything Bro: You cannot cope with a mature software development infrastructure. By "mature" I use both senses of the term. There are definitely some crusty clanks from our 18-year tenure we all would like to change, but they simply don't provide a good value proposition to our small company to do so at this time. One has to have both the capacity to judge the difference and the willpower to work with them despite their rust.
3. The Grass was Greener Guy: You enjoy spending most of your time waxing philosophical about how X, Y, and Z were so much better at Initech where you worked before than they are here. See #2, but if the value-prop is high, we're a place where most of the time you'll get the go-ahead to just go ahead and fix it. If you prefer to just moan about it day after day instead of fixing or coping with it, Panasas is probably not a good fit.
4. The 4-Walled Cuber: You don't like working with people on projects or are aggressively anti-social. While we're all weird (we're Software Engineers for glob's sake) the important thing is that we can collaborate effectively on projects. Don't mistake this for "have lots of meetings" -- that is definitely not our mantra. It means have an effective team meeting once a week and be able to collaborate on pointed issues on a day-to-day basis, rather than building your own wheel, getting and staying stuck on an issue for an entire week without reaching out to another for help, or using your own coding style that differs from everybody "just because." This is a small company and there's a lot of solo work to be done, but the skills to collaborate effectively, especially on the big projects, is crucial.
If you feel you don't fall into any of the above groups (or you're committed to escaping those habits) Panasas will be an awesome place to work. However, I've seen folks who did fall into one or more groups above, and they didn't have a particularly great time.
Advice to Management
We're on a much better track than a few years ago; continue your commitment to the medium- and long-term projects as they are extremely value-rich and Panasas is going to be something truly special in a short time.
I applied through a recruiter. The process took 2+ months. I interviewed at Panasas.
Very thorough and rigorous interview process with the executive team and board. My advice is to do your research and bring your specific ideas about how you will contribute. I had a total of 8 meetings before I was offered the job.
Very fair and transparent.
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