Due to the limits of my lifespan, I've only lived in a couple of places for over 5 years, let alone worked at them. And yet, I find myself having worked at Microsoft for about 7.5 years. This is a lot of time to some people, and very little to company-man careerists who stayed in one company for 25 years.
I am leaving for ArenaNet to try being a technical producer instead of a publishing producer. I'm terrified and hopeful. All normal job stuff.
Things I learned:
- (large company) Form friendships with people you don't work with directly. If you have to make an effort to see them now, you're more likely to later when you leave.
- No matter what you sign, you have a right to discuss your salary. See "sec. 7".
- (Microsoft specific) Sort your email with rules. And then, once a quarter, sort your sorting. Get off of noisy distribution groups, delete irrelevant email rules, and clean that shit up. It's a mess when you finally leave anyway, but you can mitigate this. So many DGs and SGs. :)
- (Microsoft specific) Read mini-msft but never ever comment. It's frequently cynical, often not applicable to your group, and quite dated. That said, I've read all of the posts and I started reading them before I worked at Microsoft. I don't find that the blog aligns with my experiences within the company, but I can sometimes tell who does when I meet them and that in itself is valuable.
- Spend a bit of time with the company review system, whatever it is. At the least it will provoke conversations with your boss about what you can do to progress.
- Hard work should be rewarded, but hard work and a little visibility is much more likely to be rewarded. If you have a boss who rewards hard work,
- Love the company. Microsoft, especially, is fucking amazing. Not so hard, see?
- Don't burn bridges. You leaving is about YOU. For example "I would like to try another company, specifically a game dev, as I have never done this thing before. I have also never really worked anywhere but Microsoft." This is my genuine reason for leaving. Anything negative is probably temporary and stupid to mention. Avoiding working at Microsoft ever again? Fine, but you can still be nice.
If something terrible is part or all of your reason for leaving, then make something boring up, like "I would like to take my career in a new direction." You can silently fill in the "A new direction not full of assholes" if you like. Silently.
- (large company) Get to know some of the majority type at your company (eg. white dudes are the majority type in many software companies in the USA). And don't be disingenuous just to fit in, it doesn't work. Luckily I love beer and pizza. But I never pretend to love sports.
- Try to know more non-majority-types than majority types.
- Nothing is personal at work, even though it feels like it is. If you are taking something too personally and turning red or about to yell, it is ok to work from home because you're not feeling well. Because, hey, you aren't.
The journey ahead will reveal a lot about whether any of this is applicable anywhere else.