52 weird things about working in Silicon Valley

Working in Silicon Valley can be fun. It just sounds cool doesn’t it? That’s a rhetorical question for people who don’t live here and never have.

It’s the Tech World’s Mecca, and has a huge concentration of start ups and well-seasoned giants. There’s Google, Facebook and Apple just for starters.

Whenever you plonk an industry-full of people in the one geographic spot, it’s going to get interesting. There are tech heads and millionaires, nerds and kingmakers, venture capitalists and people who don’t own fancy cars.

Here’s my list of the strange things I’ve noticed while working in Silicon Valley.

  1. Instead of messaging people, you “ping” them. For example: “Just ping Marc and get him to email the information on that project”. It’s annoying.
  2. Having at least five online messenger apps to ping your coworkers on. Even though they sit 10 metres away from you.
  3. Picking up the phone to call someone isn’t exactly frowned upon, but the recipient won’t be happy.
  4. Small talk before meetings being all about the latest XBox/Playstation/Switch game that’s come out and how far you’ve played.
  5. People joining meetings (with video enabled) from anywhere: home, cars, restaurants. Luckily not the bathroom… yet.
    The Silicon Valley Google Building
  6. Constant Raspberry Pi talk. Not the delicious kind you eat, but the one you build yourself, that works as a gaming console or a whole computer. Or something.
  7. Wearing jeans, a t-shirt and joggers to work. Every day.
  8. Not getting fired or reprimanded for your casual attire.
  9. Forgetting what “business casual” really means.
  10. Being unable to distinguish your “work clothes” from your “weekend clothes” in the wardrobe.
  11.  Work will be your life. Work/Life balance doesn’t exist here. It’s a pipe dream, so don’t even bother mentioning it.
  12. The above is probably only true of some tech companies.
  13. While the weekends can be your time, some of it (if not all) will be taken up by work.
  14. No one is really bothered enough to have a little whinge about pre-dawn phone calls to fix something.
  15. Vacations or “holidays” exist, but you’ve still got to check your email and make sure no one needs you while you’re out.Tourists in front of a Facebook billboard
  16. Only young people talk about their age or birthday. Ageism is real in tech and 40 can be over the hill in some places.
  17. It’s a fishbowl of awesome, smart people. In some cases, super smart, which brings me to personalities.
  18. Some people are brilliant, and also really awkward on the social skill front.
  19. Others know how intellectually superior they are and will be arrogant to a fault.
  20. The above make for innovative apps and technology, but not-so-great managers.
  21. The best of the best come from all over the world to work here. So get ready to experience a mishmash of cultures.
  22. Tech bros” are a real thing. And they aren’t pleasant.
    There are more Start Ups in Silicon Valley than you can poke a stick at
  23. You’ll probably never use cash money. Even if you’re paying someone back for shouting you lunch, they’re going to want you to Venmo or Paypal them.
  24. Everything/one is pretty much on the cutting edge of tech. Haven’t heard about that latest start up or shiny new app? You’re out of the water cooler convo.
  25. Moreso than elsewhere, there’s always the possibility that your company may fail spectacularly. So add stress to the mix.
  26. Everyone speaks in acronyms. And if you’re not up on the lingo, you better pray to God that they’re unique, because otherwise, a Google search will be a hellish black hole.
  27. It’s acceptable to live on snack food like Cheetos, Jolly Ranchers or Sour Patch Kids.
  28. Your office probably has a sizable stash of the stuff.
  29. Or they at least order pizza once in a while when you stay back late at night. Or to apologise for a super-late night the day before.
  30. Passing the buck is huge. If you ask a question you’re either going to get no answer at all, or one so vague that they can brush off all accountability later.
  31. Some people live in boats. Other people live in camper vans. It’s not an exaggeration, it’s the reality in a place with sky-high rents.
  32. There are robots everywhere. As your boss’s virtual presence in the office, delivering your food, flying through the air.
    Mall security robots in San Jose
  33. Except for in designated drone-free zones. Yes there are signs. Yes they are enforced.
  34. You’ll always be surrounded by people with an idea for a start up. Learn to look excited and profusely reinforce their belief that it’ll make them millions.
  35. Resign yourself to the fact that it probably will.
  36. Modes of transport to work vary. Everything from motorised unicycle-looking contraptions, to skateboards, motorised skateboards, bikes, and company shuttle buses.
  37. Laughing at said modes of transport is frowned upon. Best keep it to snickering behind your hand.
  38. There is a “secret” Gentleman’s Fight Club, also known as the Silicon Valley Fight Club, for stressed out nerds.
  39. If you’re lucky, you’ll work at a company that doesn’t mind splashing around some cash. There’ll be free snacks in the office and a cool Christmas party at the end of the year.
  40. If you’re unlucky, you’re working at a company with a great reputation that doesn’t translate to dollars in the bank. But you stick it out because it looks great on your resume.

    And now for a few extras from a discerning co-worker…

  41. Some companies won’t hire you if you wear a tie, or high heels to an interview. They expect a serious candidate to do research on company culture. Read: Sit outside HQ and carefully study the accepted attire.
  42. Median household income is $110,373 (US median is 47.8% less at $57,617, 47.8%). Median Apartment Rent list price $3,648 (US Median is 56.2% less at $1,597). You’ll make more money, but you’ll also spend it all.
  43. It can be difficult to determine to what degree someone is upset because their colleagues lost their jobs, or that the office snacks were removed as a cost cutting measure. Especially if both occur at the same time.
  44. College prestige = brand name + distance from SF Bay Area
  45. Twenty-year-olds speak of making million dollar mistakes, while they are “still cheap”, earnestly.
  46. There are plenty of non-tech jobs.
  47. Open office spaces are in style, with acoustics and privacy a tertiary concern. The loudest person is usually surrounded by the most coworkers.
  48. There are opportunities to be given free pizza and beer in exchange for your attendance at talks by people at the forefront of their field.
  49. Internal company communication is often informal. It is often not out of place to throw in a cat picture by the third email in a chain.
  50. Backpacks are common even at customer facing meetings.
  51. CEO, as a title, is often misused where owner, and not always lawful owner at that, should reside.
  52. There are events where bankers in suits and techno punks in hoodies sit next to each other and mingle. This is not seen as abnormal.

work | working in San Francisco | Working at a start up | Technology | US jobs | getting a job in America | Silicon Valley | working in Silicon Valley | living in America | Aussie | Expat | Aussie Expat in U

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *