Opportunity to take on tasks related to a variety of positions
Opportunity to work with a variety of high-tech companies
- Management pressures employees to improve and grow the business, but tends to be negative and resistant to new ideas. My experience was that management was unwilling to invest in strategic advertising/marketing in a meaningful and committed way, and often cancelled even minor new initiatives if they didn’t return immediate results.
- Management consistently demonstrated that employees are simply a means to an end to bring in money. Management does not seem interested employees’ growth path or personal fulfillment career-wise. You are there to bill time, period.
- Management seems to avoid engaging with clients and brings minimal to no value to the actual projects.
- As an employee, you must bill clients almost by the minute. However, during the initial contract period, my experience was that I was only paid for the time I billed. Consequently, several times I was in the office and worked an 11 or 12-hour day, but only got paid for 8 if that is all I billed clients.
- Company culture is flat. Taking lunch away from your desk and socializing with co-workers is not encouraged. Sick days are thoroughly questioned and you are expected to be available and in communication while home sick.
- Full-time, salaried employees were routinely asked to take days without pay if things were slow; if a vacation day is requested management often would suggest the day be taken off without pay instead.
Advice to Management
- Be more open and receptive to advice on expanding the business
- Take meaningful steps to make employees feel valued for their contributions
1. Nice office
2. Breakfast every Friday provided by a coworker
1. Pressure to spend 80-90% of your time doing work that was not in the employee's job description (got hired as a graphic designer, but was given mainly production work to do because the company lacks creative projects)
2. Pressure to hit the ground running within a few days after being hired
3. Was not given a sufficient amount of "training time" to perform a job you did not sign up for
4. Job description was completely inaccurate and creative/web projects did not exist as management had mentioned
5. Always pressured to do billable work even though employee is assigned to do internal, non-billable work
6. Management does not want to spend time doing internal, non-billable work (marked as bad)
7. Very quiet work environment as if speaking to fellow coworkers is prohibited
8. High employee turnover rate
9. Extreme micromanaging as in checking in on you 3-5 times a day; 8 hours time card is looked at frequently to see your list of billable to non-billable work
10. Lack of creative projects means it's unnecessary to have a graphic designer
11. Pressure to do billable work and to do as much as possible, but it's not enough to fill an 8-hr day on most occasions; also, it's "bad" to spend time doing non-billable work otherwise
12. Unrealistic expectations on projects and to meet deadlines
13. Scolded for making mistakes during the short training period; continuously degraded and ignored the fact that effort is invested and that a learning curve exists; expected to take the insults and to not stand up for yourself
14. Doesn't show appreciation to employees
15. No career growth in the graphic design field (assuming you're a graphic designer)
Advice to Management
1. Hire a production designer to flow copy into template case studies (bulk of what the company does) instead; do not mislead graphic designers to think that this is a graphic design position
2. Provide more direction on projects if expectations are unrealistic
3. It is possible to grow that 20-year-old company business beyond just template case studies by investing effort to create potential, client relationships; don't be so disconnected from clients and design
4. If you don't have a design portfolio to show; you won't get new clients for rebranding/web/collateral projects
5. Understand that branding projects take more time than just two weeks; learn the works of print design to understand that font, color palettes, etc. matter in the design world
Opportunity to build relationships with clients
Opportunity to work on marketing communications projects for large high tech companies
Detailed processes in place for most clients and projects
Relentless pressure from management about billable time. You will be ‘reminded’ constantly about your billable to unbillable ratio, even if you’re asked to do unbillable work.
Unrealistic expectation/demands to come up to speed quickly on clients’ technologies and complex project management application. Minimal training time does not prepare you adequately to hit the ground running on most projects.
Unrealistic project budgets – owner/manager minimizes dollar amount of project to win the job, but is disconnected from actual work so often under-estimates for project work. Therefore you either go over budget (bad) or bill it to unbillable time (also bad).
Virtually impossible to really take a day off. Most AEs are ‘silo’d’ to one account so there is no one to cover for you should you be sick or on vacation. Taking a vacation day involves major planning to get your day covered; a sick day means you’re on email and working from home while sick.
Poor management attitude toward employees in general – Quick to criticize and rarely if ever demonstrates appreciation, particularly for all the ‘above and beyond’ work you are expected to do.
Owner/manager is very disconnected from clients and from industry in general. Has no real relationships with the clients and is not actively plugged into networking in the Valley so is not capable of pursuing new business. He pressures employees to accomplish this.
Lifeless office environment. Work environment is nearly silent and lacks energy, enthusiasm, creativity. No vibrancy and minimal collaboration with other employees; extraneous conversation is discouraged.
Owner/manager does not do any of the actual work. When things are stressful and deadlines are tight and people are over-worked, he does not/cannot pitch in to help and he is not connected with the clients and their projects so cannot even advise. He simply tells people to work harder.
Salary about 15% under competitive rate in industry.
Advice to Management
Take a role in your agency beyond budgets and dollar-watching. Build relationships with your clients and get involved in the many networking opportunities in Silicon Valley to make a name for yourself, the agency, and win new business. Take steps to make employees feel valued.
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1) Opportunities to learn new skills and learn about the technical industry.
2) Opportunities to build client relationships and network.
3) Opportunities to work with Fortune 100 companies and up-and-coming high tech companies.
1) Pressure to employees to be productive and fully functional in a position within days of hire.
2) Pressure to employees to bill as many hours (minutes) of the day as possible to the client.
3) Pressure to work (from home) while sick; difficult to take an entire day off while sick.
4) Pressure to take on types of work not encompassed in an employee's job description and in which an employee may have no experience (such as from another position entirely).
5) Pressure to take on excessive amounts of work to cover for when other employees leave the company.
6) Lengthy time periods until replacement employees are hired.
7) Pressure to take on more work than will fit into an 8-hour day; Pressure to work overtime to complete all work.
8) High employee turnover.
9) Library quiet office environment.
10) Micromanaging management.
11) Management uninvolved in client relations.
Advice to Management
1) Personally build client relations and client loyalty; do not rely entirely on AEs.
2) Personally be involved in business development; attend trade shows and seminars; network with the industry.
3) Invest in employee happiness and build loyalty; offer small perks such as breakfast or lunch once in a while.
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