Max Martin

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11/03/2020 @ 03:58 am

It's not satire, It's ARGO ARGO is thirsty for resources, but not talent. Their hiring methodology can most aptly be described as "any port in the storm". They hire mostly new college grads who don't know better and are willing to accept a $50K base to be a developer. I started as an entry level programmer (ELP) out of college and worked my way up so I can speak quite confidently about these practices. Compensation increases will be limited (annual at best, but don't be optimistic) and are subject to the whims of the President of the company who controls the purse strings. I managed employees and couldn't tell you how much they made, had no budget control or influence, and could only attend "ranking" sessions where we stack rank individuals in each position to determine who gets what/if anything. The President of the company controls all hard costs and his bias will always win out. I saw him give raises to an under-performing man who should have been fired instead of the higher performing woman based solely on his perception that the man was better despite managerial input to the contrary. The technology stack that the company uses is a dated 4th Gen language that was modern when the co-founder created it in the late 80's. Being able to write in it has less marketability than COBOL and unless you are accepting a PM role, there is little to no benefit to any skills that you learn once you leave. If you're joining to be a developer I would suggest you reconsider your decision to do so as the relevancy of your current skills will be lost and ARGO employs non-solicit clauses in their contracts to prevent you from working for any of their clients within a year of your departure which is arguably the only place where your "skills" from there will be relevant. Due to their thirst for resources because they bleed employees, the odds of being fired from Argo are low. I had employees who slept at their desk but were given a pass because they've been there a long time. Others who have broken the production code repository for a client and went home who never received as much as a formal write-up. Unless they mismanage the company like they did in 2013 and layoff 25% of the company you're probably safe. Speaking of the layoff, I cannot imagine a more poorly executed process. From the selection of employees to let go, the timing, the means it could not have been more poorly done. That's not to ignore that the CFO spent the corporate funds like they were unlimited and that the entire situation was avoidable. Three weeks before Christmas they separated the entire company into either a large room in the lobby or into conference rooms around the floors to announce who was being laid off (lobby) and who was being kept. They then released the employees at the same time which was as awkward as it sounds as people with empty boxes went to their desks to collect their things with tears running down their faces and their "relieved" coworkers passed in the halls. I know what you're thinking - don't worry, they still held a Christmas party for everyone to attend although they only charged $50 to bring your spouse. The company culture at ARGO is most adequately described as an un-ironic recreation of the movie Office Space if it was somehow merged with Shawshank Redemption. Most employees are great people but upon entering the building they all become a little more dead inside. The relationships that you build with your fellow team members will be the only thing of comfort; not unlike prisoners. While almost every tech company has moved to laptops, casual clothing, and flex-time; ARGO has steadfastly held that desktop computers, polos and slacks, and finite vacation time that expires annually is best. It took the CEO a while to move from the suit and tie dress code he so loved at EDS. Finally he compromised with slacks and polos. So remember, change is possible if you're willing to be 20 years late to the game. Some posters have commented about time and attendance monitoring and I assure you these claims are real. The CEO has a habit of walking around the floors around 4:45pm (especially on Friday) and checking who is still there and who is not and he will email the management team his findings. Whatever you do, don't get involved in his pet projects or case studies. It seems appealing at first for the CEO to take an interest in you or your opinion but as soon as he doesn't like what you have to say there won't be anywhere you can run to escape his wrath. In the interest of clarity, his wrath is inclusive of profanity, yelling, and a bevy of personal and professional attacks that resulted in one employee needing paramedics because it caused a heart attack. I will say, my favorite case study of his involved research into the departure of his young protege who went to another executive to get a referral letter to get a job at another employer. The request was granted, the letter was provided, and the protege left. There was something quite enjoyable about another executive helping an employee leave; like a prison guard being complicit in a jail break to save an inmate. If you need to work remotely you have to VPN and use RDC from your personal computer to your desktop to do anything. If there is inclement weather, you have to use your own PTO since the company interests will always come first. I'm disappointed I haven't been around to see how they are handling COVID-19 but I am confident that they have declared all of their employees essential. Don't worry about dress code compliance. Their official company handbook includes scans from an old JC Penny catalog with both Do and Don't fashion styles (not a joke). For those who are thinking that maybe the computers are modern I can assure you otherwise. My boss was the strongest advocate to get developers 2 monitors and met so much resistance from the CEO that he had to provide published case studies to justify the expense; and no, this wasn't an argument in the mid-90s, it was 2012. Working at ARGO as long as I did allowed me to fully appreciate how not to exist in the business world. They provide you countless examples of everything that makes for a toxic work environment such that even average experience afterwards seems like a treat. This is not unlike consuming burned food for years and eventually having an average meal. For those who have read this far and may be wondering whether the information above is exaggerated or otherwise modified for comedic effect I would like to reassure you it is not. This prose is not satire, it's ARGO.

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