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Ask HN: At what company were you happiest and why?
102 points by maruhan2 on Sept 11, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 107 comments

Honestly? This warehouse where I was repacking lumber. The lumber would come from the sawmill on a big flatbed truck. However, the lumber would be stacked in a formation that made it impossible to fill up the shipping containers optimally for shipping the lumber overseas. So my job was to (with a bunch of other guys):

1. Unpack the lumber. 2. Restack the lumber in a formation that would allow for maximum lumber loaded into the shipping containers. 3. Rewrap the lumber in plastic and staple the plastic in place.

It was mindless work where I didn't have to think about anything, had no deadlines, and I got physical exercise to boot. It paid $12 Canadian per hour. Long-term, it would have sucked because the wage was too low. But short-term, it was exactly what I needed at the time to recharge my batteries.

In terms of real career work? Just after I graduated from university, it was a team of young hotshots that made custom .NET apps for improving work processes at a telecom company. Ton of freedom, ton of competence, ton of stuff that got done. Still possibly the best team I've ever worked with.

I really miss my first job after school. I was working in a factory. No responsibility, no thinking, just some mindless labour. I worked physically hard enough to be tired at the end of the day and got to talk to my coworkers while the job was pretty much done on autopilot.

But the pay was not great and the career options were non existent.

But I don't think I'd be able to be very happy outside of work on that sort of money now days.

As a teenager during the summers working for my father driving frontend loader. I sat in a AC cab and screened top soil all day. I went to work at 7am and left around 4pm. I didn't have a care in the world after 4pm.

It wasn't just because I had no bills to pay, I just didn't worry about work. I knew the pile of dirt wasn't going anywhere and the area we were digging out was going to be the same when I got back to work.

I never brought work home. It took me a good 14 years to re-learn that in tech.

I always find it somewhat ironic that I spent all this time preparing myself to get a good career in tech when repetitive manual labor seems to be the happiest

couldn't agree more.. 10 years ago I was at the Apple store in Manhattan with my wife getting an iphone. There was this guy who's job it was just to sweep the stairs going down to the store.

I told my wife.. If I could somehow make a tech salary doing what he does, I'd do it in a second. She questioned me like why? I just said what I said before. I could come home and not worry about anything.

What are some of the worries you bring home?

I do ops work so it was always worrying about i'm on call 24/7 since I mostly worked for startups.

Are the backups working. Is that new HA solution I rolled out working. I have this lingering problem with disk latency I can't get to the bottom. List goes on and on.

I had a similar experience with a summer job clearing brush, painting stuff and stacking 50 gal drums at a fuel tank farm. Didn't have to think while I'm there, could tell when I was done (are there still trees on the fence line? not done). Never once thought about work when I wasn't at work. I actually developed pecs and a 2-pack from all the brush trimming. Miss that, for sure

$15/hr which was great money at the time.

Autonomy, relationships and mastery.

Its never about the company or the work.

You'll be happy if you have a boss who trusts you completely and colleagues that aren't a-holes. If you have this you will find the work thats interesting.

>Autonomy, relationships and mastery.

I agree with you. However, I suspect HN has a lot of people who value these things, but I wonder what percentage of people are purely focused on other things (e.g. money, power, etc)and don't care much about these values outside of how it serves their primary motivations. Sometimes these are the people who value autonomy in their own jobs, but want to make sure nobody else has autonomy in theirs. Relationships are also a means to an end.

Mastery sticks out to me in this. In a lot of years of working, I've only met a few people who really pushed themselves towards mastery. Or worse, they mastered focusing on their Job Title/Salary. Many people seem to be fine with being satisfactory. I don't think there's anything wrong with this since satisfactory means you're doing a good job.

Amen. I'm on my third job move in the last 6 yrs to try and harness this elusive situation. Hope I've found it this time.

Its very hard to find such situations.

The only way that comes to mind is knowing someone well enough in a company that needs your skills when you need a job. Its a very small intersection in time/space/relationships.

I've always lucked into these situations. And honestly I never really realized how lucky I was because I didn't have anything to compare it to.

Not joining teams with bad bosses is one way to go about this. This is also very very difficult because these guys will offer you a ton of money.

Honestly, the best advice I think is to follow your best boss when he moves once you've found one. (Again this advice only "works" in SV where there are a massive number of growing companies where people move very frequently).

>I've always lucked into these situations

Given that you know to look for a good boss and you know to resist offers purely based on financial terms, I think you are helping yourself to make your own "luck" :)

> Its never about the company or the work.

Yeah, I'm at the same company I was at 18 months ago and at that time it was the one I'd been the most happiest at in my career. Autonomy, great leadership, trust, people over process.

Same company today, same work, but the opposite of all those intangibles. New leadership, new values. Significant turnover now, following an era of unusually low turnover. Total commitment to the new direction despite the picture painted by direct feedback and turnover.

Perfectly summed up.

I worked as an intern at a factory while at university studying computer science. All the process machines were computer controlled, along with office computers for accounting and material control. Despite having a workforce of 200, there were only 2 IT guys there - 1 sysadmin, 1 developer, and I was slotted between them.

I was given a year-long development project, but during lulls in the activity, I was able to help both guys with their work, and in doing so, found several long-suspended projects the sysadmin had wanted to implement. I was able to kick some of these into gear; for one of them, a virtualisation project, I wrote a design document in my own time, presented it with projected costs to the CEO and was given the okay to start it. We built the platform (ESXi) on time and under budget, and there were a lot of immediate benefits. I was able to retire half the servers in the server room.

It all really boiled down to trust; I was given the keys to the kingdom at that job, with domain admin access to do tech support, and not only did I get to play with some cool technology, I was able to implement stuff that made people's lives easier - I built a Windows Deployment Server (another long mothballed idea) which brought our workstation build time from 6 hours (fresh install of XP plus post-install updates, not even slipstreamed, then install software manually) down to 15 minutes (deploying the pre-built image over PXE). I do believe I left the place in a better state than when I joined, but it was quite bittersweet - I came to realise I'd probably never be trusted with that kind of power over the company infrastructure again.

My first real job, I was a tiny cog in a global machine, and I couldn't deal with that. I lasted 3 months before quitting. My next job was in development, I stuck that for 3 years as it was predictable and fairly calm. I didn't enjoy it as much, but I needed the stability at the time. I moved into DevOps for a year, but my boss was an incredible micromanager who didn't trust people beneath him to do their jobs. After a year of being ignored and getting little work done, I lost interest.

I found another job, which I started last month. In contrast to my previous experience in long-established companies, I'm now working at a start-up as a sysadmin. And whilst the pace and the rapid hiring are really different to what I'm used to, I have some of that intern power again - my suggestions are taken on board, and I am trusted to do my job. I also get on very well with the people here, and they're coming to appreciate having someone to turn to for tech issues - previously, no single person was in charge of inventory or tech support, and now they can just ask me.

I think the intern job was the best of both worlds - the calm, predictable pace of an established firm, but with the startup-ish get-it-done attitude to IT work that stopped bureaucracy getting in the way. But I think I can deal with the fast pace so long as I can stay in control of my responsibilities.

My first industry job back in my home country (I live in America now). The company did outsourcing work for a large multinational technology company, and for me it struck the perfect balance between having to be too emotionally involved with the product and getting step by step specs of what needed to be done.

The work was like this: they gave us access to the product's source code and a set of high level requirements (i.e. support standard X, write a new tool that enables automation of Y, add feature Z, etc.). It was up to me and my team members to figure out how to actually implement those things according to the requirements they gave us.

I absolutely loved that setup and really, really miss it. It was challenging in the sense that I had to learn a code base, learn new stuff, read RFCs, and figure out real solutions to real problems. But the problems were handed to me - I didn't have to come up with them.

Every job I've had since then comes with the IMO unreasonable expectation that I be super involved with the product and come up with new ideas and features for it as if I owned it somehow (which I don't). I absolutely loathe that - if I wanted to have that attitude towards work I'd start my own company (which I haven't since I have no business ideas). I'm much more of a "tell me what's the problem and I'll fix it" kind of person, but I haven't been able to find any jobs like that after my first one.

I have never been happier than I was in grad school (the Space Systems Lab at the University of Maryland).

Which might sound surprising, given the pay and work hours... but there's a lot to be said for working with a group of people you love with all your heart, who have your back, in a field you are passionate about and have been since you were a kid.

Grad school was incredibly hard work, and the pay sucked. But I wouldn't give back a single day of it.

Grad school was the most miserable time of my life for exactly the same reasons. Inaccessible professors, introverted, competitive cohorts of PhD students who rarely became good friends with one another, an exclusive focus on your output and performance to the point of becoming dehumanizing.

Probably PhD work for me, too. It's a slightly different experience in the UK, I think, but did afford me quite a bit of autonomy. Has been hard to match since.

(I get the impression that the trend has been gradually towards more structure and less autonomy in "doctoral programs" -- from my point of view, that's sad).

PS. did you follow Akin's Laws?

I am the source of one of Akin's Laws.

37. (Henshaw's Law) One key to success in a mission is establishing clear lines of blame.

My alma mater =)

Justin.TV during the first 3 years or so. Honestly, because we were in "cowboy mode", and that's what I enjoy the most. The site was growing and changing so fast it was often hard to keep up, and we were all just doing whatever it took.

Cowboy mode sounds horrible to me (no offense). What did you enjoy about it?

It's not for everybody. It's for certain types of people, and even certain stages in their lives.

I also worked in a hypergrowth unicorn from the early days and I would also call those first couple of years there my happiest job, even though it was tons of work and full cowboy mode.

That was when I was in my mid-20s and single. I am 100% sure that I wouldn't enjoy that right now in my current stage in life. (mid-30s and married now)

At my current company (Aha!). Fully remote which is great for me because I'm a night owl. Interesting and technically challenging work in my favorite stack (Rails/React). We use our own product so I get to see my new code/features in front of me the next day. Great environment to learn about running a seriously profitable and successful startup from the inside. And the engineering culture is right in the sweet spot -- independent and self-directed but with brilliant colleagues available to bounce ideas when I get stuck; committed to quality but pragmatic about reality for a large codebase; forward-thinking and open to new technologies but cautious about balancing value and benefit vs. the inherent risks introduced by change.

Sorry to digress - What I want from life keeps changing over time. Maybe evolving as I grow/change as a person. While I was happiest at certain roles/companies in the past, I don't think I would be as happy there now.

Yeah, and memory is a fickle thing. I want to say "job X" but then as I really think about it, I realize I am disregarding some bad times there, too.

I think it's really important to analyse the current situation and think about what's good. We (or at least me) only ever seem to know what we have when it's gone.

Not working at all is my happiest. I don't like working for money. It's always a compromise. Working for fun is something different.

I was pretty happy in my first job as a system administrator for a small B2B ISP in my hometown. Full autonomy, engaged coworkers and challenges that kept increasing.

Unfortunately, I like getting paid and I've been let down in that regard. I was there for 5 years and left for a job at a big 3-letter corporation and then some other corporations. I've been soul searching for a decade now.

Autonomy, relationships and mastery. Yep

Right now: self-employed as a software consultant. Flexible hours, working on average 20 hours per week. As a single parent I'm there for my kids when they need me. When I'm working it's very intense and focused. I'm more productive with my time than I have ever been in my career.

I went through a period 15 years ago where I would work 60-80 hour weeks and be on call 24/7. I learned a lot from that experience and it helped get me where I am now--but it was difficult.

Apple was the most rewarding in many ways, but I was happier working retail at Nestor's sporting goods in Quakertown, PA. I was young and full of vigor, we went camping together many nights after work, rode bicycles together every Sunday, and all was well in the world (year: 2000).

I used to get paid surprisingly well to play capture the flag and hit children with dodge balls, then we'd do stuff like make electric pianos out of 555 timers and paper clips, and popsicle stick trebuchets that could throw a rock several hundred feet.

Easily the best job I've had.

Microware Systems Corporation--it was fun to work with really good people on compilers for an operating system that, at the time, was one of very few pre-emptive multitasking OSs one could get for relatively inexpensive computers. It didn't require memory mapping hardware, and thus couldn't use compilers that presumed knowledge of some absolute address where code and data lived (or could be made to appear at with memory mapping). Probably the most fun was modifying the compiler to take advantage of the "as if" rule by avoiding the "usual arithmetic conversions" where possible. I kick myself periodically for not trying to get that published.

My current company, because it's 100% remote and I can work on my own schedule.

That sounds dreamy. 40+ hrs a week of required butt-in-seat time is bizarre and depressing.

I'm happy for you. I tried remote work for 2 years and now I'm happily going back to working in an office next Monday. Can't bear the loneliness anymore. I don't have much of a social life to begin with, so I really need some actual human face-to-face interaction in my job.

I'm at year 2 and I don't see myself going back to an office. It is nice getting out of the house, but I never want to commute again (read: Los Angeles traffic) and I don't like people expecting me to be in a certain place at a certain time.

Sounds cool, but is the salary ~SF Bay Area?

I thought the question was about happiness?

Wasn't there a study published recently showing that money really does buy happiness, up to a certain point of diminishing returns?

The one I recall being referenced is from Angus Deaton and Daniel Kahneman (of Thinking Fast and Slow fame):


I can attest that I was much happier at $80k than I was at $30k, but not much happier at $110k or $140k, less happy at $155k, miserable at $175k (becoming director of engineering). Now I'm at $200k but it's the remote part that makes me happiest.

wow, that's an amazing salary for remote. what company?

The company is Surge, LLC (https://www.surgeforward.com), and they offer developers for hire. It is 1099 contract work with at least 40 hours a week guaranteed.

Just curious, what tech stack do you use?

You get matched to projects based on skill set. I only advertised myself as PHP and Node, so that's what I've been assigned to (75% node/angular/mysql, 25% PHP/angular/mysql).

Depending on where he or she is working from, you don't need a ~SF Bay Area to enjoy the same quality (if not better) of life.

For reference, I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles so prices are lower than in the Bay area. I make $200k and my wife makes $100k working part time as a registered nurse. Flexible schedules mean we can spend lots of time with our daughter and travel quite a bit.

You make 200k as a developer?

Senior developer with experience as a former director of engineering, but yeah, $199k last year, tracking for $205k this year.

Nice job! Good to know it's atleast possible to break the 120k-ish mark.

Software engineer starting salaries in companies like Amazon/Google/FB etc are close to 100k or more. So breaking that mark as an engineer is very much possible.

he's a contractor, it's different.

I was at $155k as a W2 software engineer at my last company...that seemed to be a ceiling for engineers in Los Angeles. I had to become a director of engineering to get to $175k.

Bell Lab: a private office with a secretary.

These days, every office is open office. Kids so crazy.

First four years of my career I worked in seismic oil exploration. I worked in Sudan for about 18 months, then Nigeria for about the same. Also worked in Tanzania. In Nigeria we lived on house boats. In Sudan aircon trailers. In Tanzania we slept in tents besides crocodile infested rivers and lakes.

Mostly I drove a LandCruiser through all kinds of conditions, checking cables and geophones and swapping out telemetry boxes. Occasionally I would get a week or two in the "Veribo" - which was an air-conditioned room full of automated test equipment. There were long sessions of component level troubleshooting, swapping out components like voltage regulators and power transistors and so on. I became a Senior Observer and moved to the "DogBox" where the main telemtry system was and operated and troubleshot from there - it was much less fun than "running line".

In the rainy season in Sudan we were flown to work every day (and returned home) by an Vietnam Vet who I'm pretty convinced thought the war was still on - attack take offs, landing in clearings with only a few inches between rotors and trees.

It was my first job out of Polytechnic, back in 1984. It was a HELL of a lot of fun. Some great friends made, and sadly lost, in those years.

Square was great. During my time there, the company doubled in size, tripled in valuation, built a plethora of new products, and experienced all the chapters in the adolescence of a successful startup. Everyone was intelligent, most of them treated their coworkers well, and nearly all felt a sense of camaraderie and loyalty to the company as a whole. Left for YC, but if I had to do it all again, I might choose to stay! Those were good times.

I was there, too, but I wish I had left earlier. I really didn't enjoy anything about it.

I worked as a summer camp counselor and I loved every second of it. We ran a competitive sports camp with kids aged 8-13 years. It was well-run, action-packed, and my co-counselors included some close friends that I still keep in touch with. We laughed, cried, sweated, and laid it all on the line for our weekly team of kids, which was re-drafted every new week. Team loyalty was fierce and the competition extended to include team spirit, sportsmanship, and being a good citizen.

We had enough time to really connect with and influence the kids. I also keep up with a lot of "my kids" on facebook, and they are all grown and many are married with children of their own. I'm very proud of so many of them.

Working with children is incredibly rewarding, but there was no obvious career path where I was. When I was promoted I hated it, and quit.

I was young though, and I didn't care about the money at all while I worked with the kids. It was the best time of my life, so far. Development pays better, but it's really drab by comparison.

My work at a coding bootcamp. I found that I find teaching about programming a lot more enjoyable than actual programming. The reason for that is:

1. Much more interaction with people

2. If I didn't sleep too well on a particular day I can still teach but with programming I'm not productive enough

3. Deadlines and pacing is easier

4. Much more free time when students are doing an exercise or don't need you that much anymore (after 2 months)

How was the pay, relative to what you could have got coding fulltime?

More or less the same. It was a standard junior freelance rate that would be acceptable in The Netherlands [1].

[1] The source is in Dutch but Google Translate works good enough to understand the gist, see: https://uurtarief.tips/nl/zzp/ict/uurtarief-ict-zzp-freelanc...

My current company - Formlabs. I get to build really good hardware (3D printers), working with ~seven different engineering disciplines. Smart people, high levels of autonomy, and very little politics. People are there to build great stuff.

If you don't mind my asking, what field are you in? I've been fascinated with 3d printing for a while(built my own printer etc) but haven't quite found the right place to apply and you are certainly selling the formlabs experience!

We do Software (embedded, desktop, web), mechanical, electrical, process, systems, optics, and manufacturing engineering. It's a pretty fun mix.

Since you asked, I personally work directly with all of the above (as a product lead). My expertise is in software, mechanical, process, and systems engineering.

With few exceptions it's always the place I'm currently working, because happiness in work is a big priority for me, so when I move from place to place I always try to make an improvement in how much I enjoy work.

When I'm unhappy, I ask myself why, and how much effort I think it will take to change what I don't like (which often is something I can change in myself, rather than expecting the environment to do it for me), and if I think it's worth the effort to change (myself or my surroundings) I do.

Otherwise I stay where I'm at until I can figure out how to improve things.

My first real job at an ecommerce company in Sri Lanka. It had a trifecta of awesomeness. A team that cared. A company that at least at the start had a cohesive mission and till my final day there I had a 95% autonomous role. Obviously there were certain overrides but I never felt rank was pulled on me except by 1 person in that entire time. Funnily enough that 1 person was largely responsible for the downfall of the company culture, something that he too admitted.

Regardless, that was easily the most creative period of my life. I would work on one project after another, investing into productivity tools. The company was at the time doing daily deals. I wrote a suite of tools that would take a word doc which was the terms of agreement with the merchant, and convert it to the relevant HTML blocks to be pasted into our ecommerce CMS. After that was done it would cross-check the site against the doc to see if everything was pasted in correctly, and then use a set of defined resources to generate newsletters.

I passed that autonomy down to the rest of my team and it resulted in people tweaking workflows to be more efficient and learning things and taking on other jobs around the company without having to consult me.

Easily the best work of my life for now. By far.

Danger, Inc. Good people, making an important thing (the Sidekick), under hardware constraints that were neither too limiting nor too generous.

German user here, I loved my Hiptop/Sidekick phones! IPhone functionality way before Apple got it!

Loved also the skiing game easter egg. Had the first and second phone, was crazy in love with them. Still have them in a box somewhere, was thinking about resuscitating them for hipster purposes.

Seriously, I loved these phones, one of my best gadgets I ever had. Unbreakable, full of functionality, clever design... i hated to see them go. Had a Nokia Blackberry clone afterwards that I couldn't stand.

Nice to see someone from Danger. Whatever happened to the company, rumour was it was bought up by Apple? I also heard Steve Wozniak was somehow involved?

Steve Wozniak was on the board of directors, so we met him once at an all-hands meeting. (The other major celebrity appearance was from Thomas Dolby, who was involved with the Beatnik Audio Engine that we used for sound.)

The SnowBored easter egg was the subject of some internal controversy because it wasn't part of the standard QA testing process. There were initially some bugs in invoking it from localized keyboards where the asterisk wasn't on the 8 key.

The company was bought by Microsoft, and the Kin was the ill-fated result. Many of us went to Google and made Android; others went to Apple and made the iPhone; still others went to Palm and made the Pre.

I've been at Segment for 2.5 years, and it's been pretty amazing. The founders have done a good job of establishing a solid, but not cultish, culture. Karma is a value, and it's pretty well expressed. Yes, there's plenty of room for improvement, but it's been a terrific ride, and I'm excited for more. #datkoolaid

Secondarily, every time I've volunteered my hard skills, it's been a lot of fun (and oftentimes has a positive payoff down the road). Eg back in Atlanta, I volunteered at a local private school for a couple of months which turned into a $50/hr * 20hrs/week gig.

When I first moved to the Bay Area, I met with a friend of a friend, and when he said he had kids, I casually mentioned that I'd be happy to tutor them if they ever needed any help. This blossomed into a great relationship, and this person is now a good friend and mentor that I've kept up with for the past 6 years.

I suspect one reason that volunteering is so fun is because it's low stress because you can't really get fired, and if you do, it doesn't matter because it's not your primary livelihood. I might sort of say the same thing about some second jobs (in that it doesn't really matter if you lose the second job); however, if the second jobs pays really well (or you really need it), then that stress of keeping the job can creep in.

Driving for Lyft was also a lot of fun. I only did it part time for a few months, but it was great meeting people and exploring the city. The limited-time casual conversations are very interesting because people are more willing to overshare because chances are you'll never see each other again. Back when I drove, it wasn't as mainstream, so the clientele was mostly tech-savvy early adopters, so most conversations were very interesting. I wish I had done it for longer so as to better learn the city's nooks and crannies and also to meet and chat with more people.

The outfitter that I used to work for. I taught whitewater kayaking. Great people, play outside all day, interesting clientele, sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. It never once felt like work. The pay was not good by software industry standards, but it ticked every other box you could imagine for a great place to work.

When I was working as a lighting director at my university.

It was mostly student staffed, but probably one of the best, most professional crews I've ever worked with in a technical production capacity. The equipment was also pretty top notch. It was probably one of the better-equipped venues in Los Angeles.

My coworkers/fellow students and I were pretty dedicated. A lot of us worked full time on top of taking a full course load because we loved what we did. We also socialized a lot and partied together a lot. Most of the friends that I still retain post-college are those folks.

I've really been missing and seeking out that kind of tightness among a group of coworkers ever since. I don't think I'll ever find a dynamic like that ever again, and that's okay. People in the "real world" have their families to go home to and other social lives.

My first job as a junior. I worked with really smart coworkers. I got to build things that were used, and things that made money.

Most other jobs after that I ended up building things that were never used, or used to get some kind of grant or impress investors, and wasn't even what the user wanted.

A lot of the more senior jobs I get, I end up doing a lot of management and getting little work done. Sometimes when someone else does the hiring, I get complete idiots in my team, the kind who typo variable names, spend 3 days discussing specifications, but don't do them, refuse to use source control.

I would really love to get back into a job where I can just build things that people use, with smart people.

Have you thought about getting into consulting? A lot of companies, to me, have the kinds of problems you describe. Being an employee at one of them is a no-win situation.

I've been doing that for nearly 3 years. Part of the problem is that usually the client cares more about getting grants or ticking off some buzzword like "machine learning" or "uber for X". But things get better throughout the years as I learn which projects to avoid.

having typos in variable names doesn't seem related to being smart though

Maybe he means not catching them with some kind of linter, IDE, or test? I'm choosing to believe that, at least.

it could be part of a general attitude of not caring

Yeah, this. Like the specifications say that the table name is "Product" and they name it "Products". An error every now and then is acceptable, but multiple errors create chaos among the team, especially when it's related to the API.

I've had a few jobs that I was really happy at. In fact, most of my jobs have been on the happy end and the ones that weren't, I've moved on quickly. I generally like smaller companies where there's a "family" atmosphere.

1. My current company has been pretty good to me. During the 2011 Super Outbreak [0], when my city lost power for a week or so, they took all the employees and their families and put us up in hotels in Nashville for a few days until things stabilized and we could return home. We didn't even have to work if we didn't want to. After a stressful day of tornadoes and a few days with no power, a nice hot shower was very welcome. Stuff like that is pretty normal here. They take good care of us.

2. I worked for a company that did e-learning materials while I was in college. Our product was basically a self-contained website with videos, subtitles, tests, etc, distributed on CDs. This was the early 2000s, so pretty bleeding edge then.

The owner was a business professor full time and this was his side project. We were always small, and him and his wife always took an interest in all the students that worked for them. Getting a home-cooked meal and a night of poker once a week was a nice perk for a poor college student.

The cool thing, though, was there was no pressure to stay. They knew we were students, they knew we were going to graduate eventually and take jobs elsewhere. It was a mutually beneficial scenario where they got relatively cheap labor (but compared to my friends I was making bank), and we got good experience before heading out into the world.

3. I was a park ranger for the NPS in Yellowstone for a few seasons as well. And that was a fantastic job. I wrote about that in another HN thread [1].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Super_Outbreak

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14390927

My current company (Snap). I have the opportunity to shape huge things and effect millions of dollar worth of changes every year. I personally believe in the innovation potential here. The perks/package etc. have been pretty great as well. I work out of Seattle and fly into LA once in a while. Again, two of my favorite cities in US.

To be fair, for most of my career it has been my current job: Whenever it got to a place where I wasn't happy (mind you - not even unhappy, just chronic normalcy or lack of exciting work), I usually left either the team or the company. It has worked out so far :)

4DK. A cool startup later acquired by Radius Networks. That's where I got the "bug" for coding. It was sometimes stressful and occasionally caused a great deal of anxiety. But everyday, I felt challenged and engaged to the max. Plus, I loved flying out to Chicago to meet the rest of our small dev team and drink beers. It was more about camaraderie than anything else. It was just us, 5 developers and a UX director, against the world. People were trusting me with their livelihoods. And I still feel honored to have been a part of the 4DK team.

None. Haven't found a company that would meet my standard. And we're talking about class A companies. I should try to start my own company, I think it's the only way to get what I want.

The question was "at what company we're you the happiest" and you said "none"? You can be unhappy at ever but you would have still been happier at one over the other.

No, you're ignoring one case scenario - I categorize all my previous employers at the exact same level. Same experiences, same problems.

By this logic you were "happiest" at all previous employers :) "None" implies that happiness levels (positive or negative) did not exist.

What do you want?

Less micro micromanagement, room for innovation over productivity, freedom to move from dev to product to design, etc. Ability to work from home whenever, communication skills over whiteboarding skills when hiring new folks.

A company.

Best temp job: Cycle courier. I liked cycling and it paid well (for a guy in high school that is). Winters were a bit harsh though.

Best full-time job Consultant for embedded systems software, mostly prototypes, short projects (2-3 months), jack-of-all-trades work, often going to cool places. Long hours and often in horrible places, away from family and friends, too though.

At every single company! But that lasts for about 1 week to 12 months. Then everything is automated or routine and becomes boring really fast.

As a contractor, building 3D simulations for the military. It was for man-in-the-loop simulators where we simulated various kinds of ground vehicles and an assortment of sensors (IR, visual, I^2) and our simulation entity had to interact with and/or engage other man-in-the-loop as well as computer-controlled simulation entities.

Had to quit because I was moving out of the area.

My current company - Asana. They just have an awesome work-life balance that I never had to worry about work at home.

I worked for a small digital marketing and PR agency in NYC. We worked with clients mostly in the music industry. The environment was very collaborative and it felt like a family in many ways. The work was creative while also being relationship driven. Overall I'd say it was the environment that made me enjoy the job most.

Stratum Security was my best experience to date. They're very welcoming and provided a lot of guidance. I became a better programmer after working with them. And the way I was let go after the project ended, with a glowing LinkedIn recommendation and a bonus MacBook Pro... beats words.

I was happiest when I was working for someone who I really liked as a person

(that's only happened the once, though)

self employment?

Working at a non profit in SF. I had almost full autonomy doing both tech support and dev, and by the time I left I had the job down pat. People liked me, and I liked working there.

Alas the obvious downside was not making nearly enough to live on remotely comfortably in the Bay Area.

https://quickrep.vn This is a website of our company, its size is quite small with 10 employees. However, we often talk to each other a lot about work and life. Everyone is quite friendly and fun!

My most recent job at the Canon Innovation Lab in Kitchener made me the happiest because of the people I worked with. Incredibly dedicated team that were great to be around and working with University of Waterloo students kept me young at heart.

My second job with Snappydata Inc. Best work environment and great people

I second this. Was short but sweet. Fun while it lasted.

Funiture delivery.

Load truck with furniture, take furniture off truck.

Clerk at an art supplies store. Fun colleagues. Low stress.

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