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Ask HN: How to Find an Apolitical Job?
16 points by throwawayiphone 73 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments
For the last couple of years I have worked in two different jobs as a full stack developer. Both of them were really interesting, the stack, the problems, the people, the domain. The first one was in banking, the second one in science, where I still am (starting year 3). In both of those jobs I noticed the same pattern happening with time. A very politically engaged developer/manager/activist would get hired, then we would start receiving from him/her a lot of articles about inequality, feminism, racism, or white fragility, he/she would then start “activating” some other people to his/her cause, then at some point someone would propose that we should go through some kind of anti-racist/anti-sexists/anti-anything training, at which point the atmosphere between people is usually so weird that I decide to change my job. This is literally the point I am at now.

I feel like I’m being brainwashed at work, with no ability to stop it, other than by changing my job. I want to do programming, if I’d wanted to learn about the critical race theory I would have gone studying whatever you study to learn it. Any attempt to ask people to move their conversation to a dedicated political channel are being ignored or worse, labeled as “insensitive”, sometimes with a lecture about how “everything is political anyway”.

This is a throwaway account, so please don’t send me actual job offers, but instead I would really appreciate if people could tell me what kind of job I need to look for to get as far away from those weird political people as possible? (This is not a troll post, I am honestly asking for help).

I assume working close to academia probably doesn’t help, so to not make the same mistake for the third time, how do I find places that focus on programming?




Tragically, it's become fashionable and encouraged for politics to seep into every facet of peoples' lives thanks to intersectionality and aggressive behavior from the woke crowd. Without a firm no-tolerance politics policy from the employer this kind of stuff is just going to continue. However, any organization that publicly declares it won't accept political discussions in the workplace is probably going to receive the full brunt of outrage from the activists. So sadly, you probably won't find any company that openly advertises it's neutrality.

You may have some luck with small companies, if only because there are so much fewer potential activists working there. Avoid large multinationals like the plague.

Any company that hires a lot of young people / entry level developers is going to have way more of the activist types. Especially if they're right out of university. You could try searching for positions that use older tech-stacks. That's one roundabout way to find and older, less engaged, crowd.

As an additional word of caution, the people you encountered sound like true zealots. I'm not being hyperbolic, I truly think many of the woke crowd are modern-day proselytizers. Be very careful disagreeing or being critical of their views.


Thank you for the response. I come from a country, that is still strongly catholic, and it does remind me a lot of what I'd seen there with some devoted catholics. I think your diagnosis of "proselytizing" hit the nail on the head.

"Any company that hires a lot of young people / entry level developers is going to have way more of the activist types. Especially if they're right out of university. "

I think you might be right, in my previous job, it was a fresh out of the uni junior programmer who literally transformed the whole company that way.


It is a little hard to advise you without know more about the size of the organizations. Banking could be huge but "science" could potentially be a 5 person lab.

You are not being brainwashed, so please don't use terms like that. It detracts from what might be legitimate complaints and makes you look fringe.

You might also take a moment to reflect on whether these are isolated incidences or if you are a catalyst. I am not saying you are but a little self reflection never hurt.

If you work in a "big" place with an established HR. Register a civil and concise complaint stating that your colleges are inappropriately bringing politics into the workplace and are using their political views to create a hostile work environment. At a typical "large" company that would typically trigger at least an inquiry.

If you are at a small company, you are likely best to just move on if you can.

If you do move on then during a later stage interview you might enquire about the accepted policies of the office. Remember, many people wear their identities on their sleeves both on the left and the right so there is almost certainly going to be politics at whatever your next position is as well.

For personal context, I once interviewed with a company that asked what my favorite TV show was and I said "The Simpsons" and the interviewer followed up with a question about what radio I listened to and I told them NPR. The interviewer mutter that was good as favoring a Fox TV show would not align with the corporate culture. I declined their offer, not because I am Republican (I'm not) but because the interviewer had made it clear that politics was an important part of their culture and I did not want that kind of work environment.


Thank you for the response.

I am currently working in a smaller company that is a part of a bigger conglomerate/corporation, which sometimes feel like the worst of both worlds.

I agree that using the word "brainwashed" sounds quite fringe, but I guess what I wanted to convey was that I feel like this constant, incessant seeping of one narrative makes me rather uneasy.

I don't think I am the catalyst of those events, since I hardly ever respond to them (publicly).

I set my mind on moving on, but I am really curious if there are places that are less "susceptible" to those kind of situations.


Believe my, I empathize 100%.


Just blank it all out. In 5-10 years it would be viewed the same ways the 80s viewed hippies.


Honestly speaking, what you are asking for is almost impossible. When you put 2 people in a room, you get politics. The best bet is probably be a contractor as you do not have to participate in these stuff (or they pay you to do so). Companies expect you to be a good corporate citizen which generally involves more that just programming (interviewing, goal setting, career progression etc). So, I would suggest you seriously consider why you get annoyed by these and figure it out.


Any hardware skills/knowledge?

For my last seven contracts, the most apolitical and areligious (is that a word?) engineering teams have been hardware people. The more evangelical have been software people.

So it would seem if you continue to hang around groups consisting of mostly coders, you will not be happy much.


Become a remote contractor and avoid office politics.


I couldn't post the whole post due to the character limit so here it is:

For the last couple of years I have worked in two different jobs as a full stack developer. Both of them were really interesting, the stack, the problems, the people, the domain. The first one was in banking, the second one in science, where I still am (starting year 3). In both of those jobs I noticed the same pattern happening with time. A very politically engaged developer/manager/activist would get hired, then we would start receiving from him/her a lot of articles about inequality, feminism, racism, or white fragility, he/she would then start “activating” some other people to his/her cause, then at some point someone would propose that we should go through some kind of anti-racist/anti-sexists/anti-anything training, at which point the atmosphere between people is usually so weird that I decide to change my job. This is literally the point I am at now.

Now, some context. I am about 30 y/o, naturalised citizen of the UK, where I moved about 8 years ago. I am interested in politics, philosophy, science, and many other things, and I talk a lot about them, but either online, or in person/via direct messages with friends. I frequently disagree with things that are being presented as the only truth in those political conversations/courses at work, but I do not want to waste my time to argue about them during my work hours, and not only because of the fear of being labelled racist/sexist/bigoted and reported to HR. It’s also a bit of what Paul Graham wrote in “What you can’t say”: “If your aim in life is to rehabilitate the color yellow, that may be what you want. But if you're mostly interested in other questions, being labelled as a yellowist will just be a distraction."

I am obviously not a proponent of racist/sexism/x-ism, so it’s not just a question of me working with people with whom I disagree politically. For the same reason I would not want to work in a company where the constant theme is “building the wall”, or the Tories, or anything really.

I feel like I’m being brainwashed at work, with no ability to stop it, other than by changing my job. I want to do programming, if I’d wanted to learn about the critical race theory I would have gone studying whatever you study to learn it. Any attempt to ask people to move their conversation to a dedicated political channel are being ignored or worse, labeled as “insensitive”, sometimes with a lecture about how “everything is political anyway”.

This is a throwaway account, so please don’t send me actual job offers, but instead I would really appreciate if people could tell me what kind of job I need to look for to get as far away from those weird political people as possible? (This is not a troll post, I am honestly asking for help).

I assume working close to academia probably doesn’t help, so to not make the same mistake for the third time, how do I find places that focus on programming?


Try freelancing. You get almost all of the perks of being employed minus the downsides, you can leave whenever you want, the pay is better and you can ignore most of the corporate bs. You will have to take out your own health insurance and you should save like a squirrel to ensure continuity in case of mishap.


Where are you located, specifically?


That'd be London, UK




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