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The Living Dilbert?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the is-your-superior-a-PHB dept.


AirmanTux asks: "Next march I will be separating from the US Air Force, after six years wearing 'the uniform', working in the closest thing to IT that the military has. For certain reasons, I've come to the conclusion that I will be more effective in serving the US public out of uniform than in it. There seems to be a common belief that the civilian sector is just as disorganized and mismanaged as the uniformed services. Do you think this is true? Are there any 'honest' places to work any more (where promotions/awards are based on work preformed and bureaucracy, and politics aren't encouraged to supplant the 'mission), or has America become one big living Dilbert strip?"

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ESR: The Real Dilbert (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511298)

Another [] exclusive!!!

ESR studied the document in his hand with interest. His brow, furrowed into numerous crap lines, was covered by his sweaty red forlock. His hands shook. He mouthed the words hoooh boy silently as he began a steady hyperventilation. Finally, after waiting for weeks and weeks, he had what he'd gone to sleep thinking about every night: the first issue of SCAT!, the magazine for poop fanatics everywhere, had fianlly hit the stands. Eric's heart burst with pride, as he had taken the last of his money made when VA Linux^H^H^H^H^HSoftware had gone public and invested in this private project of the Slashdot staff.

Running quickly to the back bedroom of his one-story shanty (and being careful not to trip on the heavy 386 PC cases or the myriad of cables, cords, dongles, and wires running in various directions across his dirt floor), Eric slammed the door and laid stomach-down on the bed. He opened to the boilerplate and read his pal's names with delights, kicking his feet back and forth against each other. He couldn't believe his dream had come true! But just as he was about to flip to the pictorial section (to examine how the GIMP performed at the cropping and scaling, of course) the phone rang. It was Jon Katz.

Eric, you son of a bitch! Where the Hell is my story? You promised me you'd publish my story in your God-damned worthless shit-fag mag! You double-crossing

ESR interrupted Katz. Whoa, whoa, I don't know what you're talking about. We agreed that I'd pick an article and have it be the cover story. I never said it would be yours. It just so happens the bois at Slashdot picked mine instead!

With a strangling, gurgling scream from Katz, ESR hung up the phone and sighed. He scratched his beer belly and thirsted for Jägermeister. Why did people always harass him? From RMS calling and reminding Eric that he was not a good a programmer as he, or Larry Augustin calling emailing death threats regarding petty cash theft from VA's offices after Eric's visits, or the trolls on Slashdot writing about his and his friends' personal lives, the Jäger was his only release. Perhaps after a few fifths of it he'd be calm enough again to dive back into his magazine.

Waking up hours later, ESR realized he'd drank too much (again) and had slept away... Well, what had he slept away? He couldn't even remember what time it was when he'd woken up or fallen asleep last. Between the early Winter Pennsylvania nights and his hacker's schedule it was so hard to keep track of what time of day, week, or month it was he might as well have been living in a cave. He remembered when he was, though, and thought warmly of his shanty built by hand from 55 gallon drums harvested from his local landfill. Over the drums ESR had filled clay, mixed from a nearby creek, and painted it brown to make it look like a log cabin. How proud he was indeed! Wouldn't you be?

ESR picked up the SCAT! magazine, unzipped his pants, and sat at his kitchen table humming with a cluster of 386s running Linux and enjoyed the rest of his freetime the way God intended: masturbating furiously to pictures of pale, skinny young men eating turds and smearing shit all over each other. (5, Informative)

geekylinuxkid (831805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511299)

did you try searching for a GS job at [] ? I plan on getting a GS job when my enlistment is over. if you have a clearance try [] . hope that helps.

Air Force IT (5, Interesting)

Mr. Joe Himself (944811) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511345)

I happen to be in the Air National Guard currently and am well on my way to making it my career, though not in IT. I have my Master's Degree in Computer Science, and had the privledge of doing my research work with the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. I can tell you with a great amount of certainty that the driving forces between government and public IT are worlds apart. In Air Force/Government IT, there is little motivation to strive to learn more skills. Pretty much anyone can enlist into a technical field and they're all put through the same relatively short, simple training. In my opinion, they're amateurs on an unjustified power trip. There is significantly higher motivation for learning new skills in the public sector because it will actually make a difference for the individual. When you become invaluable, your status and pay reflect that, generally, in the public sector. Definetly not so in government positions. I do completely agree that an individual with a strong desire to learn and expand skills and knowledge can be of immense use in the public sector. However it takes a supernatural kind of driving force to penetrate the mundane aura of government IT.

Re:Air Force IT (1)

geekylinuxkid (831805) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511369)

im a signal guy in the army and im constantly upgrading my skills. having been in the civilian world prior, i know that you must constantly improve or you fall off and are replaced. just like the AF, the 'computer guys' here mostly fill out trouble tickets and maintain computers. they dont do any _real_ work. they all believe that just because they have the mos, they will make all this money on the outside which is completely wrong. it's sad.

Re:Air Force IT (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511506)

In Air Force/Government IT, there is little motivation to strive to learn more skills.

True and sad enough.

Pretty much anyone can enlist into a technical field and they're all put through the same relatively short, simple training.

Again, so true. Some people come thru it pretty knowledgeable though (those tend to be the ones that already had a good understanding, prior experience or the like), but there's a bunch of "not so good" ones too... (although it seems every job has its share of incompetent folks still in business these days). There's one thing to remember though: you're either a soldier/sailor/whatever first, THEN a technician/specialist (I've been in the navy and the AF myself)

they're amateurs on an unjustified power trip

amateurs... You could call some of them that. No idea what "power trip" you're referring to whatsoever. Especially if you're referring to those "A+ techs" filling out work orders in Remedy in swapping out PC parts. Nobody nowadays expects to find a job much over mimimum wage doing work like this.

Anyhow. There is still a portion of people working for the gov't that are knowledgeable. I'm most definately upgrading my skills all the time (no real choice as a programmer). The real shame is not the "adequate" people who don't try to learn like crazy. It's those incompetent idiots you can't fire. Case in point: our webmaster at my last posting only knew HTML - no CSS, no javascript, not "good enough" at any server-side tech, no knowledge of the HTTP protocol, very minimal knowledge of IIS and none of apache, no knowledge of DBs (he barely knew anything about access - nothing about SQL Server, MySQL, Oracle, DB2, PostgreSQL, etc - AT ALL! He needed handholding for basic CRUD SQL queries - don't even mention joins!)... That guy was f'n useless in his job, and just couldn't hack it/learn the "new" stuff). All he could do was produce crappy plain HTML full of nested tables and font tags by click and dragging stuff in dreamweaver. Everything he touched was highly insecure (SQL injection galore, you could download the access DBs, poor to no file security at all, etc) and extremely buggy - if it worked at all (if anything got done, you could safely guess it was a 95% "cut and paste" job). (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511482)

did you try searching for a GS job

Look, the guy already said he didn't want to wear a uniform anymore. Beside, what makes the Girl Scouts such a great place to work anyway? (2, Funny)

Baddas (243852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511512)

Two words:

Thin mints (2, Insightful)

Pensacola Tiger (538962) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511495)

Speaking as someone who has spent the last 22 years working that 'GS' job, I can testify that Dilbert is alive and well in the federal government, or perhaps I should qualify that by saying that PHBs are found everywhere. At least the benefits are somewhat better than many jobs in private industry.

Then again, the opportunities to work with the latest technology are often missing, and there are many times that you will find yourself wanting to bang your head against your monitor screen over some particularly stupid management decision. But that can happen anywhere.

Just keep in mind that the job security that was one of the biggest 'perks' is a thing of the past. A-76 competitive outsourcing and the BRACs put an end to that.

Good luck to you! (3, Insightful)

soloport (312487) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511524)

Also, being a contractor (vs an employeeee) helps keep the political fog from encroaching too much on your personal life. At least it seems to help somewhat.

any honest jobs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511302)


Depends... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511304)

I just made that switch myself not long ago.

It really depends on the place where you end up working (their size, what type of company they are, etc matters a lot).

Regardless, I *don't* ever want to be "promoted" to a management job. I like coding, not paperwork, meetings and managing people.

Re:Depends... (1)

carlosGames (943841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511407)

I *don't* ever want to be "promoted" to a management job. I like coding, not paperwork, meetings and managing people.

Just as I say, the PC will obey and ppl will think... that's the problem :) I preffer coding too

It's not as bad as Dilbert. (4, Informative)

FatSean (18753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511306)

I work for a large organization, which as a result of it's size, has a sizeable ammount of beaurocratic BS. Perhaps I've been lucky, but I don't feel my management is as pathetic as portreryed in the strips...not even close. I think it helps to work for a company that takes IT seriously, as a genuine method for improving the business and not a dreaded tax to be paid like waste removal or maintenance. Unfortunately I have no insight as to how to determine this from the outside.

But, people are people. I might make a vague generalization about the personality types that join the military, but that probably won't be productive.

Re:It's not as bad as Dilbert. (2, Informative)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511378)

I work for a large organization, and I think Dilbert is right on. In fact, most companies I've worked for that weren't startups were very much like Dilbert.

If your company isn't that way, consider yourself lucky.

Re:It's not as bad as Dilbert. (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511379)

"bad as Dilbert?" It's not bad unless you make it so - the BOFH works in the same type of corporation as Dilbert, but he manages...

Re:It's not as bad as Dilbert. (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511465)

Yes, but my desire to earth a tesla coil to the gas tank of my former boss' car was frowned upon by the most of the directors. One or two of them thought it was a good idea though *smirk*

Re:It's not as bad as Dilbert. (1)

Baddas (243852) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511527)


/me runs away

by honest (1)

inexia (977449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511307)

i have some ocean-front property in arizona......

Re:by honest (1, Funny)

slughead (592713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511380)

i have some ocean-front property in arizona......

If Al Gore is right, that could be possible in the near future.

Then again, he's been wrong before. Remember Manbearpig?

Re:by honest (1)

nickheart (557603) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511489)

Report from 2023:

"For alomost twenty years now I had regreted this drunken purchase, but OMG, i now own 400 miles of gulf coast porperty!"

-- Jim, New New Orleans, AZ

Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511315)

You bet! Just go over to India and work in a tech support call center there! You'd be doing america more good by being somebody on the other end of the phone who knows what they're doing than by getting a job in IT in the US of A

No. (5, Insightful)

avm (660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511318)

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Not really...there are places where performance and ability advance, but they are few and far between indeed, and primarily in small establishments. To most employers, employees are disposable commodity, a necessary evil that is to be pruned or removed at the earliest possible convenience. Management has become the science of keeping up appearances, with many managers being completely ignorant of the trade they are in, or the tasks of the workers they supposedly manage. Color me a pessimist, but the way I see it, Dilbert has gone from a sarcastic parody to a photorealistic portrait of the American workforce.

the real No (3, Insightful)

KeeghanMacAllan (842985) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511352)

short answer: no
long answer: hell, no

Re:No. (1)

Dr. Winston O'Boogie (196360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511585)

I only reply to concur with this viewpoint based on my long experiences in tech, non-tech, government, small company, large company, academic, non-academic, etc. If you think your corner of the world is screwed up, an that sanity just requires leaving your corner....guess again.

Everyone hopes there is some sanity in the world, but few have the opportunity to find it. It's there, somewhere, but you usually have to work awfully long and hard to find it. So when you do, don't blow it by being either too young and stupid to appreciate it, or too old and jaded to magnify the minor faults.

Ex-Marines's Opinion (5, Interesting)

gasmonso (929871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511319)

After 4 years in the Marines I was ready to get out to the "real" world... a world free of BS and well paying cool jobs. Well I got my degree in Comp Sci and was ready to face the world. Upon getting a job with a large corporation, I was amazed at the amount of BS there. It made the military look like an efficient & well-oiled machine. After 5.5 years now in the corporate world I ahve come to one conclusion... you alone can't make a damn difference. Either you will like it or you won't. I have finally realized that being my own boss is the way to go and thus I am pursuing that vigorously.

As for you my friend, take a walk through the corporate jungle and see if its your kinda thing. You can always do your own thing! []

Re:Ex-Marines's Opinion (1)

Russ Nelson (33911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511551)

I don't think it's ever been any different. Which leads me to think that if somebody can figure out how to make a corporation STOP SUCKING, they could make a huge amount of money. Any time you have the prospect of a reasonable risk of making a huge amount of money, you can get advance money to do the research and development for it.

Meh... Dilbert moments always occur no matter what (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511322)

I have to say my first engineering internship/coop/whatever you wanna call it has been rather pleasant. It is probably due to the fact that my boss actually has a degree in physics. Well this week has been the strangest Dilbert moment ever. Four days out of the five I had to work with someone using a jackhammer about ten feet away. No one's innepitude caused it (except maybe the people who built the building) but it had to happen because a rock/large concrete slab had to go in order for some construction to resume. It was something that would happen to Dilbert.

Re:Meh... Dilbert moments always occur no matter w (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511398)

And here I am in a 4x5 room, in a basement, with two jackhammers and a sawz-all next door. True story. Yaay summer construction.

Re:Meh... Dilbert moments always occur no matter w (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511405)

It was something that would happen to Dilbert.

No. In Dilbert it would have been done intentionally at the behest of a consultant in order to increase your productivity with "(Per)cussive (T)eam B(u)ilding The(r)aputic Vi(b)ration mass(age).


Consider some specialization (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511325)

The more in-depth knowledge you have of some area, the more immune you will be to having to bow to mindless political requirements. I'm not saying that will go away, just that it will be lessened.

Consider focusing on specific areas, like perhaps IT security work or perhaps programming related to military applications. It seems like you should be able to use your time in the services to your advantage.

Re:Consider some specialization (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511372)

The more in-depth knowledge you have of some area, the more immune you will be to mindless political requirements
Perhaps, but the more in-depth knowledge you have, the more annoyed you will be by the ignorant requirements put forth by those who have no knowledge at all.


Re:Consider some specialization (3, Insightful)

bitslinger_42 (598584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511382)

While I agree that focussing on an area that is somewhat related to the poster's military career is good advice, don't be fooled that IT security is less BS prone than any other area. Having done security for a Fortune 100 company for ten years, I can say emphatically that Dilbertesque moments abound. I've gone into meetings on my management's behalf and given the message I was told to give only to be censured afterwards because the other people in the meeting didn't like the message. I've been told by a man who received all his promotions from his uncle that political harmony is frequently more important than security ideals. I've had to spend MONTHS collecting data and statistics from external sources to convince a division that Internet email is not an appropriate delivery platform for mission critical communications that absolutely MUST be received, unaltered and unread, within 2 minutes of sending.

If you can make the intellectual leap that a paycheck is its own reward and that, as long as you are receiving one, it doesn't really matter much what the company does, then working in the private sector can be both rewarding and relaxing. If, on the other hand, you truly belive that you can make a difference and/or save the company from itself, then perhaps you ought to consider a career with a greater chance of success, such as carrying ice cubes on the palm of your hand across the Sahara before they melt.

At least in the military, "I was just following orders" is still a plausible excuse.

Re:Consider some specialization (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511458)

The more in-depth knowledge you have of some area, the more immune you will be to having to bow to mindless political requirements.
That's because the more in-depth and specific your job, the lower you are in the company. If you want to move up you have to deal with crap.

Keep it small (3, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511326)

I value nothing more than being the master of my own destiny - which should explain why I live in the South Pacific and am more or less retired from corporate life at 42. Here, in a nutshell is the modus vivendi I've developed:

Any organisation beyond a certain size inevitably becomes pathological in its behaviour. It sometimes reverts to normalcy for periods of time, but it will swing, and you will swing with it. Avoid long term commercial commitments to any large organisation. Working with groups or individuals within them for finite terms is fine, and sometimes really enjoyable, though.

Find a niche where you can work with a number of trusted individuals (perhaps as a consultant or contractor) and either work for yourself or work in a small company of less than 50 staff. The material benefits won't be as easily accessible, but your life will be infinitely more enjoyable, because you'll actually have some control over it.

Re:Keep it small (1)

aborchers (471342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511416)

Pretty much exactly what I was going to say. My experience has been that any organization exceeding 25-50 employess begins to take on the appearance of a Dilbert strip. It varies from department to department, of course, but ultimately those pieces have to interact, and you will find yourself dealing with PHBs, the marketing demons, etc.

Re:Keep it small (4, Informative)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511453)

Any organisation beyond a certain size inevitably becomes pathological in its behaviour.

Agreed... when the company is below a certain size, everybody can exist within the same monkeysphere [] , and several hundred thousand years of social evolution help things along. In much larger organizations, multiple monkeyspheres form, leading to indifference and inefficiency at best, or low-level tribal warfare at worst.

The world is not a Dilbert strip... (5, Insightful)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511330)

If you work in a big corporation, chances are that there's an official organization chart, with personnel at all sorts of levels. Unofficially, there's a complicated web of an organization chart that goes on behind the scenes. People talk to one another. Some people work hard and do their best to do a good job, but don't get anywhere in life. Other people don't do such a great job, but spend their time figuring out how the game works at their particular organization, and then play the game and move up the corporate ladder. This is a problem if you're the former, and an advantage if you're the latter.

But that can be avoided! If, instead of working at a large company, you seek out a small fledgling business to work at, you will find that the benefits are proportional to the results and not to politics. A small business, especially one with 20 employees at the most, cannot afford to play these political games. These businesses are usually owner-operated, and the owner cares about moving forward in life. That's why he is taking the tremendous risk and creating jobs for his employees. These organizations usually have one boss, around whom the whole business revolves. There might be one other manager, but usually, everyone runs around the boss asking questions and finding out what he wants them to do. This is the perfect business to work in, if you're a people-person. You go over there, and start at whatever level you can get. Since there aren't thousands of employees, the owner of the business will quickly see how you learn and operate. If you do a good job, you'll find yourself earning a lot of trust and capability in the company. Your opinions will be heard. And if you can be a team member, not just by doing your job, but by learning a bit about everyone's job, learning how the owner thinks, what he wants to accomplish, etc., you can take a lot of that pressure off the owner.

By doing all of this, you can help the business grow in terms of profit, which will make it grow into a larger company. Eventually, that means the office will become a Dilbert strip, or something out of Office Space. You'll have a Lumberg working under you a few levels down. But who cares? At this point, you will have helped the U.S. economy, you will have created jobs, you will have grown the company into something successful and long lasting, and you will be at a high position at the top, earning a high salary, and no doubt owning a good portion of the stock. You'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

Re:The world is not a Dilbert strip... (2, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511443)

Unfortunately, small businesses can and do have pretty dumb owner-operators too. It's hard to explain, but any individual can have quirks to serious personality flaws, but not fatal to the business that get in the way of good sense, and that carries into how they operate a business, they can survive and succeed, but not as well as they could.

Re:The world is not a Dilbert strip... (2, Insightful)

bitslinger_42 (598584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511447)

Hehe, before I did the Fortune 100 thing, I worked for a company of 20 people. Believe me, the grass is not greener over there. The president of the company had no clue how to run a startup (his background was head of a major international bank), his operations manager was a power hungry, self absorbed geek wannabe that mandated, amongst other things, that the whole business system that delivered our system must be rewritten in Pascal, since that was the only language he knew. The president hired craploads of sales people (15 out of 20 were sales) and spent tens of thousands of dollars on equipment that sat idle for two years, based on the idea that all those sales people would automatically translate into lots of paying customers.

Of course, political channels were much shorter. I felt comfortable walking into the president's office and asking if it would be a good time to buy a house. He was great, told me that he was thinking of buying a house too, showed me pictures of the place and everything, so I went ahead and bought. 30 days after we closed on the house, he called everyone into the bullpen and announced that the checkbook was empty, gave us 50% of our last paycheck, and asked several of us to continue working, without pay of course, for a couple weeks to "get the company through the dry spell".

For all its Dilbertian aspects, I much prefer working at a large corporation. Sure, I'd get cut off at the knees for daring to speak directly to the CEO, and there are currently seven layers of management between him and me, but the odds of a single person's mistakes causing the whole company to fold are significantly lower. There are other perks, too. There's just something special about being authorized to spend over $100,000 to upgrade the proxy servers or be sent to China for a month to set up a new office. Granted, my individual work isn't likely to impact the overall direction of the company, but I've still managed to work on projects that saved the company money in one month that was greater than my salary for the year, and given the resources of the company, and the fact that the SEC filings makes the financials public knowledge, there will be warning signs months in advance letting me know its time to jump ship with the other rats.

Oh, yeah. If you do decide to go the startup route, remember that for every Google or eBay, there's hundreds, probably thousands of Webvans or pets.coms. Some people become millionaires from startup stock options. Others become homeless.

Re:The world is not a Dilbert strip... (1)

Bishop (4500) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511536)

Small offices don't have less office politics. As soon as you have two people together in one office you have politics. While it may be true that small businesses can't afford the politics, that dosen't mean there aren't any. Small offices still suffer from arbitrary promotions and pay raises, and the boss's incompotent son or daughter "working" durring the summer.

I don't understand the adversion to office politics. Politics are just something else that smart people can hack.

Re:The world is not a Dilbert strip... (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511579)

Politics are just something else that smart people can hack.

Actually, no. Many math/computer/science smart people lack the ability to easily understand social structures. There's a reason bad social skills are stereotypical, and we love meritocracy because it benefits people like us. Also, many smart people would also consider "hacking" social or political structures somewhat immoral.

You need to clarify before I give you an answer (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511332)

Are you Speaking of Office Ladies, Stuardess, Nurse, Playboy Bunny,....etc?

Heh (1)

Ragnar Bocephus (323806) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511336)

Welcome to the cube farm boy.

Start-Up vs. Big Corporation (3, Interesting)

SpecialAgentXXX (623692) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511344)

You can work at a Start-Up. In those types of jobs, there's not a lot of money to go around so there's no room to slack off. Thus, everyone around you should, in theory, be top quality. Your reward for long hours and lower pay is a lot of stock options... But if the company doesn't work out, all you're left with is toilet paper. (No, I'm not bitter, not at all)

Or you can work at Big Corporation. All of them are the same, with varying degrees of B.S. Some have very little office politics and your hard work is noted and rewarded. Others are just one big C.Y.A. environment. Even worse, even if you do work hard in your local I.T. area, upper management may decide to oursource your job, so you get screwed anyways.

Remember, the goal is not to work hard. The goal is to work smart. Put in a lot padding on your estimates so you can slack off and still meet the deadline. If your co-workers in other areas / departments ask you to do things for them, pretend you don't know so they won't bother you anymore. (After all, you only answer to your boss.) Be sure to take the credit when something works and pass the blame when it doesn't. Don't complain about new projects or moved up timelines. You'll still have to complete them anyways if you still want to keep your job. Instead, agree with management and discuss how much more revenue the company will make once the project is finished. It gives the impression you actually give a shit about your clients and you'll be remembered as the "can do" person instead of the "can't do" complainer. I do all of these and have steadily advanced in position & salary.

Re:Start-Up vs. Big Corporation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511400)

Wow. While your story is very truthful, you sir are a lazy suck ass. Your co-workers resent you and when or if your current management is replaced you may find yourself in a very volitile position. Your a prime example of the souless trash I have to work with every single day and I wish to hell I didn't. You leave co-workers hanging, throw them under the bus at any opportunity to take attention off yourself...etc. And odds are you really don't do much. Yep. Your peers advanced and your fucked buddy. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Go small company? (2, Informative)

slide-rule (153968) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511346)

After six years at a large international engineering outfit in the aerospace sector, I was very fortunate to find an IT job at a small, commercial-software-making outfit. The change in attitude and valuation of my skill set is like night and day. (Of course in favor of the small company.) That being said, opportunities in such companies aren't all that common, and you may trade some of the perks that larger companies can provide you. I took a $5k/year cut from the previous job, and my insurance coverage isn't quite as favorable in the smaller company, but I wouldn't think of going back since my input and experience is very much needed and appreciated here. Yes, I got d*mn lucky. Not all hope is lost.

Stay away from... (4, Insightful)

catdevnull (531283) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511351)

Stay away from state-run universities if you want to avoid the same sort of red-tape and bullshit you find working for Uncle Sam.

I'm working for a very wealthy private univesity and it's much better than the state one where I worked before. It's easier to get fired at a private place so do you work and obey the rules. If you like total job security despite the BS factor, you might enjoy working for the state--here in Texas, it took an act of God to get fired because the managers (at least where I worked) never kept enough of the right paper work to do the necessary documentation to terminate an employee.

However, universities have a bad habit of higher their own graduates and favoring them in promotions--they've never been anywhere else so changes come slow if not 10 years behind everyone else. The management types are usually not as sharp as the managers in the corporate world--mostly because they wouldn't survive out there so they're also playing the job security card.

There's also little upward mobility. But, in the right position, you're an 8-5, weekends off, extra week off between Xmas and New Years Day kind of cush job.

Oh, at the pay scale is usually lower than the corporate market bears--but you won't get laid off.

There's lots of trade-offs but you have to decide what you want.

Good luck--having "USMC" on my resume qualified me for prison guard, police work, or mall security. Hope USAF is more helpful to you.

Re:Stay away from... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511500)

Good luck--having "USMC" on my resume qualified me for prison guard, police work, or mall security.

It also qualifies you to suck a lot of dick.

What about... (1)

carlosGames (943841) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511354)

what about Video games? I work for a video games company and it has zero stress most of the time, you make your own fame because of your good job and no body can tell you that game wasn't made without your help if you appear at the credits ;-)

Some are honest some are not: like everywhere else (1)

nateman1352 (971364) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511360)

I work at Fairchild Semiconductor, a fairly large corporation, a most people I've met there are truely nice, honest people, including upper level management. You do find the ocassional person who screws everyone else for his/her own benefit, but that happens everywhere, not just in the US. I think that you will find that the private sector is much more effiecient than govornment, we actually have competition in the private sector, last I checked there is no competing govornment tried to take control of the US.

Coffee Cup Person.... (1)

leon.gandalf (752828) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511362)

When my Dad worked for Sandoz, there was a person sho seemed to do nothing aside from wonder around with a cup of coffee and yammer in peoples doorways.

Size Matters (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511363)

Just my personal experience; out of college I started off working for small to medium sized companies and doing a lot of contracting for small projects. It did feel very merit based and like I was making a real difference with my work.

Afte 7 years of that I now work for a Fortune 500 company. I make a lot more money, but I do indeed feel like I'm living inside a Dilber strip. It's the most bizzare working experience I've ever had. Like I said, I make more money, and as my work doesn't have as much impact on the organization as a whole it's less stress.

So, it's a difficult trade off: more money and less stress in exchange for feeling like a tiny cog in a giant machine. I'm still not sure what to think about it: my work is less meaningfull, my work is a smaller part of my life, and my life is better as a whole --- so it seems like I'm moving in the right direction, but it still feels wrong to be dispassionate 8 hours a day.

You're lieing, you were never in the US forces. (0, Flamebait)

EvilPickles (943600) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511364)

Quite obviously, this story is an elaborate insult to the USA armed forces. I bet you've never even been to america. Really, grow up, people that discriminate against other countries should be castrated. They're about as smart as other people who generalize. It's sad that only the meanest, most racist people get any attention. That popular video you might have seen was probably an elaborate insult about whatever it was about. What do I mean? Well, I mean that it may look like something that is funny, but it is really just an insult. The YTMND, featuring the Masterchief (from halo) running through a field of flowers, sniffing flowers, and holding a picnic basket, and a song plays, which most notably is a song from the show Spongebob squarepants, and spongebob has been widely criticized as 'gay'. The YTMND is a drawing. They're effectively calling halo 'gay'. Links to this YTMND are commonly referred to the 'leaked halo 3 ending', but once one visits you find that it is funny, when It's really an insult. How can you generalizing mother fuckers, hate a country, but then expect that country to police the fucking globe for you, and generally solve all your problems? According to the story submitter, apparently being in civilian life is more helpful to america than being in the miltary? Bullshit!

Large Company (2, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511365)

Every big company works exactly the same way. Instead of having prima-donna base commanders, the civies have CEOs. Instead of blow-hard group commanders, the civilians have CIOs, CFOs, etc. Instead of incompetent leutennants, you'll be faced with stupid managers.

The biggest difference? You can actually get fired from a civilian company.

Being in the military sucks sometimes. But it sure beats working for a living.

Sure... (2, Insightful)

Dot Solipsism (972171) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511367)

"Are there any 'honest' places to work any more (where promotions/awards are based on work preformed and bureaucracy, and politics aren't encouraged to supplant the 'mission)." Sure... but you'll have to start your own company.

Depends on what you want. (1)

GomezAdams (679726) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511368)

I've found in my own experience that taking consulting lobs (Dogbert: combines conning people with insulting people) and constantly upgrading skills have been a path to higher pay. Road warrior when I've had to be. If you wnat stability, hone your brown nose and political skills and hunker down for a long climb up and pray that no merger or Indian outsourcing company moves in. Keep lots of phone numbers and emails on hand and make sure they are up to date. Stay in touch with former employees and managers. The definition of a great wotk invironment is subjective. Maybe try temp consulting work at first. A lot of these can turn permanent. Good luck and thanks for standing up for your country. All us old warriors salute you and your mates. Gomez - cold war sub vet and sonarman to the stars.

Practical experience (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511371)

I work in an IT department for a company that has about 250 employees. We do business all around the world, so we often have to prepare data and fix computers that get viruses and spyware. Right now, there are 4 IT employees for the entire building. One of them is full time, another a consultant, and there are two of us interns. Companies like this want the world of you, they want every single outlook, web service, directory service, etc. located in one place that people can access via regular http (not https!). A major project we are doing right now is a total overhaul of the company website. I happen to be the only person in the company who knows how to program in Perl/PHP (although many of the engineers use Python) as well as creating html documents from scratch.

We also had to do a physical audit of every single computer, printer, UPS, laptop docking station, and monitor. On each computer Automatic updates were turned on as well as auto anti-virus updates. Our cublcies are beige and totally disgusting. Do I feel like Dilbert? No. This is because life is what I make of it, and I can make decisions that affect an entire corporation. We spent five hours this Saturday getting half of the computers updated, and we will have to do the other half early in the morning or late at night when no one is at their workstation. I have some simple advice: keep a positive attitude towards the whole thing and do not let your bosses bury you with projects.

Big Companies Do Things Worse. (3, Insightful)

LongestPrefix (929027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511373)

I'm a technical consultant, and I get to see inside a good many companies. Big Companies Do Things Worse. I don't really know why; maybe it's because small companies have to work hard and succeed to survive, whereas large companies are profitable enough to afford to be bad at what they do. Smaller organizations with fewer people involved in making things happen seem to make more things happen. Large companies with more time to think it through, and more people to have input, seem to have more meetings and think of more risks, and ultimately seem to get much less done.

In my experience, a small company is the best place to focus on the work at hand, rather than the overhead. It's also easier to get permission to do things, because there aren't as many people to have turf wars. Plus, at smaller companies, you'll see more of the mechanitions of real business decisions, rather than the fodder of low-competence managers and colleagues.

Yes, lots of them. (1)

Whitemice (139408) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511374)

There are lots of great places to work. In my experience most medium sized organizations are pretty well managed, and managed by competent people. But everywhere also has a crank or nut-job or two.

As an aside I've worked for people I thought were straight-up crooks, and I've worked for decent people who appreciate their employees. There is nothing that is worth working for crappy people, and even if decent people may pay less, it is worth it to have a decent work environment.

First, take a look at why Dilbert is funny... (4, Insightful)

tchuladdiass (174342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511383)

Dilbert can be classified as a form of observational comedy, similar to Seinfield. The reason why this is so funny is because it takes observations from real-life situations, and exaggerates them. Therefore, they aren't a 100% mirror reflection of reality, however they start off with a kernel of truth to them. They bring about a representation of the way we feel about situations, but just as New Yorkers aren't quite like portraied on Seinfield, the private IT sector isn't exactly like Dilbert either.

Re:First, take a look at why Dilbert is funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511473)

Wow! I don't see fairly intelligent comments like this on Slashdot very often. Kudos.

Re:First, take a look at why Dilbert is funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511522)

Dilbert and Seinfeld are funny because they represent the kernel of truth. There is nothing in Dilbert that has not been matched in real life. Seinfeld, if anything, tones down the behaviour of neurotic Jews. They are funny because they strip away the wrappings of social pressure that stop us from laughing and jeering when these things happen in front of our faces.

When a New Yorker takes out a box of rubber medical gloves on the moving bus and swayingly, unsteadily puts one on before grabbing the strap, everyone around him ignores it, and thus you don't feel the natural and correct response, which would be to laugh, jeer, and ask him who is he really protecting -- himself or the rest of us from his unwashed "hasidic hygene" ?

When your boss tells you with a straight face that you can't get to your yahoo email at work "in order to protect you" you don't laugh and kick him in the nuts, because there are half a dozen co workers standing around all with the exact same degree of slightly wrinkled brow an pursed half-smile.

If social pressure did not exist, Seinfeld and Dilbert would not be funny, they would just be documentation. If society treated more of that sort of behaviour with instant, on-the-spot beatdowns, we would all be better off, including the brainwarped managers and afflicted NYers who would benefit from the quick cure.

I hear Haliburton is hiring. (1)

ABeowulfCluster (854634) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511387)

.. just sayin.

Learn by example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511390)

I too wore the blue(okay I rarely wore the smurf outfit, almost always BDUs) for 4 years.
Got for the same stated reasons and probably the same unstated reasons as you.
I did well due to lucky timming, but soon found the corporate world could be a lot less than kind. As a UNIX systems Administrator I have found the job market did indeed take deep dive after 2001. Thoguh many claim it has recovered - look closely. There are still a few cake jobs to be found, but overall the career is undergoing a transformation. They are putting more and more responsiblilies(read duties that others on the team used to do), part of it may been justified by automation(yeah right), but it's really about the bottom line.
Overall the corporate world has become much more concerned with bottom line in recent years. they cut costs no matter what the costs.
Now after being out I have become bitter and disenfranchised with the civilian world too. I think back at how I scoffed at the repeated re enlsitment notices. I think about how I have been wasting years - retring after 20 years in the Air Force is a sweet deal(even sweeter if you get a commission as an officer).

So unless you have a plan besides just working for the man. I would suggest you reconsider how good you have it and stick it out for the next 14 years to retirement. Heck take all that leave you get and take a vacation(don't save it all up until the end like I did) you want have as much time off in the civilian world unless you are unemployed - and that tkes most of the fun otu of it.
Of course if you have plan to start a business or folow dream then go for it.

Get a highly technical position and technical boss (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511395)

I have worked around the world, and the US has the most cynical and political business environment I have seen anywhere. A few principled organisations, that will try to do the right thing for their employees, still exist, but most will see you as just a special kind of IT tool.

The best I can suggest, to avoid the politics and bureaucracy, is to have a specialised technical job and to work for a manager who is also technical and will understand your contribution. Hopefully, your relationship with him can then be based on results and he can fight the political games: keeping you out of it.

The situation is better in other countries: you might consider moving abroad, though that will probably mean lower pay.

Good luck!

Attitude makes all the difference.... (1)

mikerand98682 (961847) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511401)

I went from Air Force to Air Guard, then into civilian life. I've found working in corporations to be more Dilbert than the military. In the military you're not dealing with offshore outsourcing, layoffs, doing stupid stuff to try and improve your stock price and directors trying to destroy your section to prove a point. And don't forget what kind of a deal the grunts at Enron got. I know the military can really suck too, but I'm guessing that an Air Force guy in an IT unit is probably not getting shot at in Iraq.

I've also found that the private sector owns you much like the military. My last job wound up requiring 3 - 4 all nighters a month and working every other weekend. I was also expected to show up for my normal work day. They can always replace you when the economy is bad, and probably get someone cheaper. But that's the good thing about civilian life, you can look for a new job and make changes too. You don't need to stay stuck in a job you hate. I'm on my 3rd job in 5 years (not necessarily a good thing for the resume) but I've found a good place.

Now I'm working for a school district about 8 miles from my house. I ride my bike to work and am able to work pretty much 40 hours a week. There's still some Dilbert-ish things that happen, but I've got my attitude dialed in. I'm content. I could make more money working elsewhere, but doubt it would improve my life.

Last refuge for the honest... (3, Informative)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511403)

There is one place that is as honest as you
want it to be... working for yourself.

It's a shitty thing to say, because starting your
own business (or more realistically a partnership with
others you know) is not easy. Maybe you have to slog through
some soul crushing bullshit at a large corporate job to get the
money and contacts you need to do it.

But once you do it (success of failure), you will know what
it is to work for an honest organization where true merit counts.

Once you do, you never want to go back.

back to school (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511406)

airmantux should look for a job in academia. Working for a University seems remarkably free of the nonsense one finds in corporate America. In the last decade, the pay has become much closer to corporate pay, too. There's a whole different type of nonsense to deal with when working in higher education, but at least you're working with people who are smart and generally care a lot about what they're doing. And quarterly stock price isn't the only thing that matters. I've been working in higher ed for almost 18 years and I'd never go back to working in a corporate office.

Re:back to school (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511509)

I disagree. The people (i.e. staff) that one works with in academia are certified by a degree that makes them similar in educational or cultural background to oneself. They are not necessarily "smart". On the other hand, not anyone can achieve a degree of a Ph.D. I don't know how many in our population could get a Ph.D given the desire and that there is no opportunity cost (i.e. the person can easily choose that option).

Meritocracy is not necessarily the name of the game in academia. There is no standard on what the organizational structure could be. The structure is complicated by dictators, committees, political groups, student groups, old boys networks, different classes of employees (tenured faculty vs. non-tenured faculty, levels and tenures of secretaries), the state, the federal government, and so and so on.

The bottom line is that were people go, politics go. And politics gets shady at some level, always.

Re:back to school (1)

dougsyo (84601) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511545)

Perhaps at private universities. Don't count on it at state schools.

I work at a small(er) state university in the midwest. University management (in part driven by IT managers without IT backgrounds) decided it was time to replace all of our in-house systems with an ERP (name has six letters). This implementation has all the classic marks of a death [] march [] - time, staffing and resources substantially below needed levels and expectations/complexity well above what the time/staffing/resources can support. Add to this the that the IT staff was thrown at this new environment (unix and oracle) after years on mainframe/3270 development, and were tasked with OJT as they had to learn SQL AS they implemented. Also, IT management has this "big reorg" scheme coming out the next couple of weeks that few people have confidence will do anything but shuffle people, tasks, job descriptions or money ... some are convinced that the goal is to redefine jobs to move people out of bargaining unit/overtime pay situations.

Add to this a poisonous labor atmosphere (TWO bargaining units were on concurrent strike last summer) and an early retirement buyout that is leading to major brain-drain on this project (two key people have retired, one is about to, and one has resigned), and a lack of user confidence and/or buy-in. We're circling the drain [] .

Dilbert cartoon posts show up regularly in the break room along with comments appended about how it fits a current project, the ERP implementation, management, etc.

I take little consolation in hearing that the sister institution 45 minutes up the road is doing like we are, but slower, and maybe with some hope there. Same ERP, incidentally, and some of the death march aspects seem to be driven by that vendor's implementation process.


can't fire dilbert (2, Informative)

Augmento (725540) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511426)

AF has the best reputation of all the services for enlisted MOS and computers. if there are any contractors in your facility/base in your field then let them know you are getting out. most of them will get a referral bonus if you get hired. I can honestly say that nobody treats ex-military better than the DOD contractors. On the flipside, at the highest ranks they all prior service officers and as a former enlisted you may rise far into middle management but the senior positions for most DoD contractors will be out of your grasp. There is some Dilbertisms going on but for the most part its the Dilberting that you know as opposed to the ones you don't. As fas as going government, I did that for 5 years went through grades of GS9-12 as 0443 now changed to 2210. Inside DOD, is about 90% Dilbert with most of them trying to pass off their work to co-workers, subordinates and/or contractors. In and out of DoD, most of the supervisors took this career path; either data entry or secretarial work ->office automation specialist->information technician->supervisor. truly bizarre. on the flipside, i saw a lot of supervisors try to fire people and one person in particular was blatantly malignering, i.e. using sick leave to take days off and come in late, claiming doctor's appointments but never having any proof. after 3 years of documentation and counseling, the supervisor managed to get the person transferred. it was the best he could do. if you really want to go government; if you don't have a bachelor in something get one, if you do get a masters MBA or just generic MOM (aka Masters of Management) somewhere and skip the GS and apply straight to the SES [] beyond the military-industrial complex, I don't know I have never really left it.

Motorola (1)

stewartj (525869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511429)

I work for Motorola (in Australia, but I've work in MOT offices around the world on assignment).

It is *exactly* like Dilbert.

Re:Motorola (1)

timelady (566419) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511544)

really? where in oz? i used to work in the adelaide software centre.... and yes, dilbert cartoons wee frequently posted inthe cubicles for such reasons;)

Re:Motorola (1)

stewartj (525869) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511566)

Hi Romana, I remember you. :-)

I started in ADL in 2000, then moved to the Perth centre in 2004.

Consider before leaving the service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511430)

I too was faced with the same thoughts that you now have, after having returned from Vietnam and having learned nothing more than to be a MACV Infantry Advisor. However, much thought convinced me to switch services to the USAF and finish up my 20 years. Yes there was the BS, the ups and downs but, I can say I never found people at the same level of professionalism in civilian life. Nor was it easy to find people in the civilian sector, that you could trust and make a deal based on a handshake. After twenty years, I retired and went on to form a number of firms in Europe, on my own and with the experince gained in the military, which ultimately led me to a sucessful life style and subsequent second and fruitful retirement.

A story I heard... (2, Insightful)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511432)

I will paraphrase a story I heard around the campfire in the Boy Scouts:

An old man sat sipping iced tea on a bench in front of the little drug store in a small town. After a while a young man pulled up in his car and got out, and stopped to chat with the old man before going into the store. The younger man said he had just moved to town, and he was curious about how this new town would compare. "I hope it's like the place I just left. The people were friendly, and everyone looked out for each other."

"I've got good news," the old man said, "You will find that this town is just the same as the one you left!"

After a while another young man came along, and stopped to chat with the old man. He too was curious about what this town was like. "I hope it's better than the place I just left. The people were petty and self-centered, and everyone was out for himself."

I've got bad news," the old man said, "You will find that this town is just the same as the one you left!"

Re:A story I heard... (1)

CiXeL (56313) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511480)

not true in south florida. everyone was nice in southern california but it was too crowded. here in miami everyone is mean and self centered unfortunately. i guess theres exceptions to every rule.

Dilbert (1)

mlow82 (889294) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511433)

Was I the only one who was hanging on the edge of his seat, carefully reading each word of the summary in complete suspense, to be disappointed to find that only in the second to last word of the paragraph was Dilbert mentioned? =)

First, you weren't in the US military... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511434)

You were in the Air Force. ;-)

The biggest problem you're going to note is an almost pervasive inability to make decisions.

Competition is the difference (3, Interesting)

wirehead_rick (308391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511436)

Having spent 5 years in the military myself and the last 18 years in the civilian sector, I can say with great confidence that the civilian sector in no way is anywhere near as disorganized and incompetent as the military. The military is another branch of the federal government. That means it falls to the same economic problems the government has. No accountability for output or productivity.

No competition in govt. means the quality of output is not compared to a competitor. There are no standards nor metrics that have any independant oversight. The result is obvious. Poeple in govt. tend to get lazy and do less and less for more and more pay because they can. What standards can they be compared to? Who holds them accountable? The govt. is too big to have any real accountability.

In the civilian sector you have to make money. Yeah there is plenty of fat/red tape/ incompetance in large corporations. But it doesn't last forever. Any company that gets fat, happy and lazy will eventually lose in the marketplace. Just look at any large tech company in the last 10 years to see what a difference competition makes. When was the last time the military or fed govt. laid off a _large_ portion of it's workforce because they stopped bringing in enough income? The last time I checked, the govt just borrows more and more money when income goes down. It'd be nice in the civilain sector if companies could just borrow their way out of financial woes but unfortunately the civlian sector has to budget and follow normal economics.

Therefore no waste, incompetance and lazy tenured people who are mean, lazy and disfunctional (been to get a drivers license lately? Imagine millions of poeple in one organization just like that. Now think of the fed. govt.).

Hopefully getting into the civilian sector is not too much of a shock since you will now have to justify your value by production and not by how much "time" you have put in (unless you go union - that has the same problems fed govt has).

My $.02.

They write themselves... (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511438)

I shouldn't need to say anything on this one...

Start your own company (1)

q2k (67077) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511441)

I've worked for Fortune 500 companies, and five person start ups. I've taken a shot a starting my own company too (it didn't work out). I'm 110% convinced that the only way to avoid the bozos is to be your own boss.

Re:Start your own company (2, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511547)

"I'm 110% convinced that the only way to avoid the bozos is to be your own boss."

Thing is, everyone is somebody else's "bozo", had you been sucessfull in your start-up the "bozo's" would be working for you. The only way to avoid "bozo's" is to live like a hermit and even a hermit does stupid shit to themselves every now and then.

Communication (1)

irimi_00 (962766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511442)

If people feel like their environment is like 'Dilbert'

That is basically saying, 'I am in an unstable and chaotic environment'.

This is not sustainable.

I think that communication, i.e. people coming on slashdot and saying, 'I work for Motorola and it is like dilbert' will eventually balance things out. It has too, or else everyone will go crazy, just as people in Dilbert are, sorta...

Or, else, who knows?

Military or corporate (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511454)

In the military promotions are the result of seniority and heavily on performance. In the civilian world promotions are a result of how will you can attach your lips to somebodies buttocks.

Dilbert scenarios (1)

micrometer2003 (715068) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511470)

You will find plenty of these in topheavy organizations where poor performance is rewarded at the top levels.

One thing I found out after seperation (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511481)

Civilian security practices are not like what you're used to. Depending on the size of the organization, you may end up with a non-tech boss. Some DO NOT want to know what's being done wrong, nor about what you'd consider minimum safe practice (deleting/disabling accounts of people that are not there anymore, password changes, keeping users from having admin rights and a visible thermometer for the server room). I got fired from one job because I got labeled as not being a team player because I was trying to get something written down about policies and procedures (for training and worker protection. As an NCO I used to run a NCC help desk and WIAO). I'd argue that I was a major risk in making that boss look bad, especially with long term policy and accountability issues, but oh well. In a way, I look forward to their first major meltdown. I doubt that person will acknowledge that anything was preventable, though.

Other things to watch for:
If you're overseas, apply for overseas jobs now. I haven't had as much luck getting responses stateside as I had hoped. Some of the civilian positions from want you in the area initially or don't have PCS expenses authorized. Use that free ticket!
Get your certifications! Military experience is nice, but little pieces of paper help a lot more.
"Non-competitive" clauses suck.
If the company you're applying to has a HR department, expect to wait at least 1-2 months before hearing anything.

Either way, congrats! Don't forget you're going to be on inactive reserves until your 8th year, so stay off the bong ^_^

Company size etc. (1)

br00tus (528477) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511501)

I have a decade of IT work under my belt in diffent companies of different sizes. It is apparent to me, and somewhat logical and obvious, that the bigger a company gets, the more office politics enters the fray. I worked at a Fortune 100 company where work didn't matter anywhere near as much as office politics - you had about as much chance of getting another business unit to do some work for you as Kafka's narrator in "The Castle" had of completing his task - and with a similar dealing of bureaucracy.

Small companies are not like that. The smaller they are, the less they are the like that. Small companies are where work matters, there is little politics and so forth. Small companies can't SURVIVE otherwise (many don't) as there is no room for this sort of thing as there is in large companies.

Of course small companies have their problems. One big one being they never have money, which is a big problem. It's obvious how important capital is, but as time goes by I become even more aware of how important it is, about how much capital matters in ways that are not immediately obvious, in addition to obvious ways.

Another thing about small companies is if you are not in your early 20s is if you are not an owner or partner you ask yourself why the hell you would work for someone else instead of starting your own company. They have no money, you have no money, so why work for them, why not start your own small company?

As far as bureaucracy, politics and so forth versus work rewarded and innovation, this really depends on societal things. Over the past few decades, things have become more monopolistic, companies merge, even broken up monopolies come together - Bell for one, where 7 Baby Bells have become 4, and will become 3 when AT&T and Bellsouth merge. Or Standard Oil, which a century after being broken up is merging once again into ExxonMobil ('nee Standard Oil of New Jersey and Standard Oil of New York). People don't even remember that Exxon and Mobil were originally in the same company.

Small Biz (1)

Sandnor (682360) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511513)

Over the years I have had the fortune and mis-fortune of working in both small and big companies. By and large, the best experinces I have had both in rewards for work and lack of politics has been in the small business sector. When there are only 5-25 people, the odds of encountering politics, bs, stupidity, and general incompetence are very low.

Small businesses can't usually afford to operate in that way. It affects the bottom line and owners don't like that. Find your local BB or Chamber of Commerce. They will know the small businesses. Talk to them and find yourself a home.

I got lucky with a small tech company in Las Vegas and couldn't be happier. The boss rewards all of the techs with a cut of the profits. Moral is high, profits are good, and best of all I get to do what I love without being broke.

Good luck. YMMV.

The military works best when it's being a military (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511516)

I was in a few different areas before I came into the military: small business, non-profit, academia, corporate. (Never worked directly for the government before, though.) To my mind, the military, being a microcosm of society, tends to have all the problems everyone else does.

And I think it's a pretty universal rule that when your organization, whether it's military or civilian, will work best when they are focused on some kind of mission. This is especially true for the military because so many of our rules and procedures exist because of the life and death nature of our job.

In short, when you're in the military, the further removed you are from combat, the more you are in a Dilbert environment.

Not in the slightest... (2, Interesting)

rtilghman (736281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511518)

I'm an information architect who works for a consulting company that has major contracts with both the military (portals, both secret and non) and teh private sector (special focus in financial services and ecommerce). The answer to your question is an emphatic NO, not in the slightest.

A project that the private sector will complete inside of 9 months will take 2 years inside the government. The reasons for this are fairly straightforward.

1. Contractors (the big boys, not my company necessarily) have NO interest in efficiency. The longer the contract lasts the more money they make.

2. Government personnel have no motivation to be competitive or efficient. Promotions are few and far between, there is a low expectation to begin with, and the aforementioned also holds true for this group as well.

3. The politics doesn't lend itself to efficiency. You have to worry about all sorts of buy-in on an enormous scale, in some cases ACTUAL politics comes into the game, etc.

Yeah, you'll see some inefficiency and idiocy in the private sector, but NOTHING like the government. At the end of the day the private sector business owner (PM, CEO, whoever) is responsible for the net result, and he has a serious interest in the success of the project.

If anything the only thing I would tell you to expect is to be ready for the more aggressive and demanding environment you're entering. Long turnarounds are gone, you will be responsible for what you come up with, and you likely won't get funding for what's perceived as "nice but unnecessary". For example, the best usability testing I've gotten funds for havre been from governement projects. Why? Its not their money, and the bottom line is more or less irrelevant.


Not 20? (1)

hotspotbloc (767418) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511528)

Why not do the extra 14 years and leave with a paycheck in the bank twice a month for the rest of your life? Oh, and TRICARE too. I know it's hard to deal with LIFERs but that extra paycheck when you get out is so sweet and know all you want to do is get out but still. While I was happy to get out after six myself I sometimes wonder. My dad did 20+ USA and that extra check sometimes came in very handy for the family.

20 is a very, very long time but 30+ years of retirement pay (plus they still do COLAs too?) after that, "backed by the world's largest printing press", could make it worth while. It's a bitch of a choice though with no true, correct answer.

Good luck man and don't go crazy in your short time.

Worse (0)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511529)

America is stuck in a perpetual downward spiral. This is because everyone is convinced there is nothing they can do about it. And most don't want to. America had its moment, its time to move on. The next frontier. We the workers sit around because we are tired, and listen to the next egomaniac that decides he really is worth a triple figure income while he does nothing sitting at the helm of a company that is trying to realize 300 percent profits. It would have been beneficial if someone would have written some protection into the constitution for the little people. In the meantime, wanna feel better? Try listening to some Prodigy.

Military promotion is *very* clear cut. (3, Informative)

JudasBlue (409332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511532)

> Are there any 'honest' places to work any more (where promotions/awards are based on work preformed and >bureaucracy, and politics aren't encouraged to supplant the 'mission),

The United States Military is many ways a highly inefficent organization in the micro, and lord knows it is filled with bureaucracy that is phenomonal. That said, one of the strong points of the military is the promotion structure.

I have worked at a lot of different jobs in the 17 years since I have been out of the military, from very small shops to enterprise situations, and have never seen anywhere that the promotion situation is as clear-cut as the military. The rules for promotion in the military are phenomonally well definied. There is no guessing and the need for promotion politicing is *by far* the lowest of any organization I have ever been in or even heard of.

It is also completely color and gender blind, which is getting to be the standard in the US, but sure isn't in every shop I have seen.

That said, to be fair to the poster, in the critera for promotion, work performed tends to come about the middle of the list of things that determine your promotion status. Military bearing (a catchall for how well you meet the basic military requirements for behavior and action) for example, is often at least if not more important than your actual job performance at the lower ranks (which the poster is if he served 6 years). But if you are joining the military in the first place, you pretty much know that unless you aren't too bright. At least I sure did.

I am not pushing the military here, nor disagreeing with the poster's basic tenent that the military can be a phenomonally frustrating work envrionment. My decision to get out was definitely the correct one for me and I haven't looked back. But once I got a good taste of civilian experience, the one thing that kept impressing me about the military was the promotion system. Of course, that said, I have gotten a *lot* further in civilian life than I ever would have in the military rank structure. I sucked with the military bearing stuff, but that wasn't the fault of the military, I am the one who signed up to wear the green suit.

Go to School (1)

BooRadley (3956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511541)

Assuming you are now 24 or so, your career should be just starting. Best thing you can do is get in school, take up computers as a hobby, and figure out what you are going to do with yourself when the GI Bill money runs out, or you get a degree, whichever comes first. In my experience, there aren't very many honest, meritocratic companies out there. Being run by human beings tends to kill off all of the idealistic notions of a start-up pretty quickly, so if you want to advance AND stay honest, you are going to have to be somewhat of a mercenary. Good luck on your last trip out of the Main Gate, avoid moving back in with your folks at all costs, and be patient with yourself if you don't immediately begin earning that 40k per year on the outside the recruiter promised you when you enlisted.

inertia in the private sector (1)

proudhawk (124895) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511549)

I can tell you, the private sector has a lot more
inertia in it than does the military. There is also
a lot more politics involved.

first rule of thumb in the private sector:
"always watch your back. you never know when
someone will use it as a target of opportunity."

Military, Inc. (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511553)

A marine officer friend once told me the military was operated and run like a big business, except instead of turning profits, they export bodies of bad guys.

And he was serious, he went into details on the similarities of his training and an MBA program, though I suppose the MBA didn't involve automatic weapons.

There's red tape in any large organization. I've you've developed an allergy to it, go into business for yourself, or a small company with good people.

Both Sides (1)

jrmiller84 (927224) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511580)

I have been able to experience both sides of this dilemma within the last two years. At a certain point in those two years, our company was bought out by Blockbuster and from that time on the BS grew exponentially. Before that we were a 50 person headquarters and it was one of the most enjoyable jobs I'm sure I will ever have. I work as a programmer and have had my share of corporate BS since then but by no means have I seen as much as most of you being as I am only 21. All I do know is that people come and go faster now, some people just can't handle it and why should they? I don't think anyone should fear for their jobs unless they are doing something wrong and that's exactly how the company doesn't work now. The amount of overhead that came with them taking over is ridiculous. Where things used to get done immediately, some simple tasks take days, weeks, or even months to finish. The corporate machine has definitely made an impact on my job.

Its funny because its true (1)

fmoliveira (979051) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511582)

I still remember, when I was young and did not start to work yet. I looked at that stripes and could not figure what was funny about that. The day I started to work I saw how corporations work, and understood the stripes. They just show how stupid and funny our reality is. Its quite like simpsons. I love both them.

Kinda depressing... (2, Insightful)

TheIndifferentiate (914096) | more than 8 years ago | (#15511586)

I went into the Army straight out of high school and served about a decade. I went a lot of places and was exposed to a lot of very exciting technology. I doubt I will ever again come close to doing anything as cool in the civilian sector. Outside of the technology, I miss the sense of purpose I had while I was in. I miss knowing exactly what I needed to do to get promoted. I do make waaaaaaaaaaaaaay more money than I did then, but I am not as satisfied with the kind of work I do now. I program for a living (which I did not get to do then, so that is cool (I think)), but I don't particularly enjoy the fact that it is in support of an endless hustle for greenbacks.

Anyways, I don't know if maybe I didn't know any better at the time, but I still haven't seen the level of organization out here that I witnessed while I was in. A lot of the companies I have worked for in the 12 or so years since I got out were growing ones though.
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