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The real perk

Tech companies do a fantastic job on their career sites of talking about all the amazing perks they offer. Free food as far as the eye can see, the latest hardware and eye-popping salaries. But at the best companies, the real perk is something else.

The older I get, the more I realise the real perk I derived from working at Facebook wasn’t the money, the benefits, the amazing facilities or even the fantastic product I had the privilege of working on. The thing that was truly incredible was the caliber of people who I could call my co-workers. I got to regularly hear from the likes of Mark Zuckerberg, Mike Schroepfer, Chris Cox and Sheryl Sandberg.

Mark Zuckerberg answering questions at a Town Hall
Mark Zuckerberg answering questions at a Town Hall.

And those are just the people who are widely known. There were countless others at all levels who are some of the most intelligent people I have ever known.

Sheryl’s commencement address to UC Berkeley is impressive viewed by itself, but is ordinary in the sense that she brought the same level of passion and insight every time I heard her speak, whether to a small group or a large crowd. I’m lucky to have heard her speak on so many occasions.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that, when you’re evaluating opportunities at a company, especially early on in your career, be sure to look beyond what’s in your contract.

Salary, benefits, perks etc are important and should of course be a part of your decision, but focus more on the product or service, and the people who have already chosen to be involved with the company. The lessons you will learn from being surrounded by smart people and leaders in their field will stay with you long after you have finished your last free meal or spent your final paycheque from that company.