When people learn that I’ve worked at salesforce.com for almost ten years, they’re shocked. In the tech industry, it’s common for people to job hop or move on to the next “big thing”—it’s unusual for someone to stay at one company for so long. So, why have I stayed at Salesforce? Here are my five reasons:
1. Education. I have never learned so much at one company. Every day at Salesforce is like a day at one of the world’s best universities. Even though I’m at work, I feel like I’m in a combination of an MBA, computer science, communication, and design program all rolled into one. The atmosphere is never dull. I get to watch the latest technologies get built right before my eyes. Often, I watch product managers pitch amazing concepts for new features, and I participate in meetings with developers, designers, usability analysts, and QA engineers to learn how we can push existing technologies forward. In regards to a formal education, Salesforce has a department of people dedicated to providing employees with internal classes to help us learn everything from presentation skills to new programming languages. And, if Salesforce doesn’t offer a class that interests me, I can get reimbursed up to $5000 a year for external courses. In my experience, it’s rare for a company to provide employees with a free education, or, technically, pay an employee to go get an education.
2. Large company with a small company feel. I’ve worked at large companies and small companies, and Salesforce has the best of both worlds. Because we work in an Agile development environment, I work with a small team of people building software applications. But unlike a small company that’s strapped for cash and comprised of a few people with limited experiences, we have endless resources and knowledgeable people who have dabbled in every role and industry around the world. In my team of about fifteen people, we might hit a barrier due to our limited knowledge, or find ourselves needing to purchase some expensive item to complete a project, but because we have access to the experiences of thousands of people—and the cash flow of a multi-billion dollar company—our obstacles don’t last long.
3. Smart people. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a meeting at Salesforce where the organizer announces that we need to solve some complex problem. I usually bite my lip and think there’s no way we’re going to solve this. Nobody can solve this. We’re not super heroes. We’re not rocket scientists. Then someone asks a question. Another person makes a comment. I find myself voicing an opinion. Within a short span of time, I watch the unsolvable problem get solved, and I think, these are some of the smartest people I’ve ever been around, and I’m around them every day. In my experience, being around intelligent people helps me become more intelligent.
4. Role flexibility. Even though my role at Salesforce is “technical writer,” I’m encouraged to do more than just write documentation. For example, I speak on behalf of Saleforce at conferences, corporations, and colleges. Not only do I get to experience the role of a public speaker, but I’m invited to product design discussions and encouraged to give feedback on how applications can work better. On top of that, I’m asked to attend strategy meetings to help determine how Salesforce can increase product adoption or access new markets. In other words, my role is not limited to writing. I get a seat at the table with people making decisions that affect millions of users. At a lot of companies, job title determines job function, but at Salesforce every employee is considered a customer advocate who can make a big impact beyond their immediate role.
5. Work is not life. Everyone at Salesforce works incredibly hard at their jobs, but each of us is given four hours a month to pursue some kind of public service. Yes, we’re paid to leave the office and go help other people or the environment. Even though Saleforce is a business, the Salesforce Foundation plays a monumental role in making a corporate environment feel more like the Peace Corps. Salesforce’s involvement in a wide range of community projects brings with it the understanding that our jobs are important, but our jobs are not life. Making a difference to a troubled teenager or picking up trash on a beach adds value to the world in a way technology can’t. Working hard without focusing on other aspects of life leads to material well being, but bankruptcy of the soul. I’ve never worked at a company that’s paid me to get involved with nonprofits or regularly provided me with lists of places or events I can attend to make the world a better place.
If you’ve spent time job hopping or have wondered if there’s a better place for you to work, then I highly encourage you to check out Salesforce. I don’t work in HR, I’m not a recruiter, and I have no vested interest in where you work. Remember, I’m a technical writer. All I can say is that I’ve worked in the trenches of technology since 1998, and I never expected to stay at Salesforce for as long as I have. I’ve found an unusually great company to work at, and if you’re searching for a great company to work at too, your search could come to an end at Salesforce.