Should This Contractor Have Quit Apple?

Mobile designer Jordan Price thought he’d scored his dream job when he was hired as a design contractor at Apple. He viewed the job as a resume-builder, worthwhile even if he was making less money than he had in previous gigs and had to endure a rigid work schedule and long commute.

Letter of ResignationBut, as he describes in a blog post on Apple Daily, trouble soon emerged in paradise in the form of passive-aggressive boss and an unbendable culture.

(He) had a habit of making personal insults shrouded as jokes to anyone below him, (and) started making direct and indirect insults to me. He started reminding me that my contract wouldn’t be renewed if I did or didn’t do certain things. He would hover over my back [literally] like a boss out of Dilbert and press me to finish some mundane design task that he felt urgently needed to be examined. He was democratic about his patronizing and rude comments, but it didn’t make me feel any better when he directed them towards my team members. I felt more like I was a teenager working at a crappy retail job than a professional working at one of the greatest tech companies in the world.

Constantly reminding himself of how good Apple could look on a resume, Jason endured it for a while. But one day, after another “low-blow insult wrapped up nicely as a joke,” Jason found it difficult to focus on his job and thought about quitting before his contract expired, trying to switch teams, or bopping his boss on his nose.

Then he decided enough was enough.

At lunch time, I wiped the iPad data clean, put the files I had been working on neatly on the server, left all their belongings on my desk, and I got in my car and drove home. I left a message for my boss and told him he’s the worst boss I had ever encountered in my entire professional career and that I could no longer work under him, no matter how good Apple might look on my resume.

The third party company that contracted me is furious because I’ve jeopardized their relationship with Apple, and of course they feel that I’ve acted highly unprofessionally by walking out. I’m not really proud of myself for doing that, and I do feel terrible for destroying the long relationship I had with the recruiter who helped me land the interview. This is all an especially difficult pill to swallow because I was so excited to work for Apple. I’m not sure if this will haunt me or not, but all I know is that I wanted to work at Apple really bad, and now not so much.

U.S. News & World Report suggests there are times when it makes sense to quit a job without giving notice. If you feel you’ve been harassed or verbally abused, it says, you’re unlikely to get decent references out of your boss, whether you bolt early or not. On the other hand, Jason may well find himself blackballed at Apple, at the firm that contracted him and, as he notes, he destroyed his relationship with the recruiter who helped him get the position in the first place. He also took an extra gamble: He quit without having another gig lined up.

22 Responses to “Should This Contractor Have Quit Apple?”

  1. Wow. Same experience at Lowe’s Companies, Inc. During a re-organization I was moved to a different unit and to the most incompetent micro-managing moron of a boss that I’ve ever had.

    This “experienced” Project Manager didn’t even know how to use IM/Chats… He’d ping you, seeing your icon as green (meaning online/available) and start every conversation with “Hello?” or “JR?”… what a moron.

    I started refusing to acknowledge his pings unless he started with something less stupid… which didn’t help. The new unit I was transferred to, I wasn’t trained for… and he refused to train me and just said “make it your own”. Then proceeded to do daily “drive-by’s” as I would call them, walking by my cubicle just to see what I was doing.

    Maybe it was his daily wearing of sweater-vests that should have clued me to the fact that this moron was a dinosaur. He only has a job there because his a**-kissing skills are superior…

    So we argued, he fired me under false pretense… then he fought my unemployment claim… which I caught him in a lie so they caved and gave me a “release package”.

    I recorded the meeting where he ambushed me to let me go. A real class act.

    Watch your back at these big companies.

  2. Jason, you are my hero. It sounds like since you were a contractor, he thought you were beneath him.

    My friends that worked for Apple out of College loved the company until they reached the age of 40 and their positions were cut. Maybe age had nothing to do with it, but that was also another era. The unfortunate part is that Managers and HR people in that industry will black ball you, especially if you don’t give them a two week notice, and leave on good terms, but if I was you, I would have done the same thing.

    I hope you find a great new job soon with a great manager. Try Google!

    Jose F. Medeiros

    • jgalt2000

      > The unfortunate part is that Managers and HR people in that industry
      > will black ball you, especially if you don’t give them a two week notice,
      > and leave on good terms

      When you’re at certain companies, leaving on a moment’s notice is absolutely the appropriate way to handle it, as that’s exactly the way they’ll treat you. So if they can cancel your purchase order on a whim (usually because the department meeds to massage/hack their monthly budget by getting rid of much-needed contractors) you might as well do the same to them.

  3. Dave Lister

    You did well. Companies that do this and get away with it only have it reinforced that they can treat their people badly. Thus the work environment continues to deteriorate.

    In any case I got out of contracting recently because every single recruiter but a few seem to be Indian nationals these days. Did we really need to import half of Bangalore so these guys could have a job taking half my paycheck doing nothing but talking to their bros working up in management at Silicon Valley companies?

    The whole engineering profession is screwed going forward. STEM training is a useless finger in the dike as long as this continues.

    • jgalt2000

      > Did we really need to import half of Bangalore so these guys could have
      > a job taking half my paycheck doing nothing but talking to their bros
      > working up in management at Silicon Valley companies?

      You think they’re actually in the US? I suspect most of them are in some dirt-floor shack in Bangalore, and just have a US address as a mail-drop and office-front. With modern telephony, they don’t have to be anywhere near where the phone number claims they are.

  4. Computer Science Grad

    Depending on my mood I would have done one of two things
    1. Asked him who the f**k are you talking too, or
    2. I would have turned the joke back onto him.
    I have always had the attitude of, “I will shovel it before I take it.” I respect people who respect me. I go to work to improve my skills and knowledge, and as a perk I get to socialize with people who may or may not be different from me while I earn a salary that helps me maintain the lifestyle I am accustom to.

    But since you cannot do what I would do, I would have advised you to notify the company that got you the job, via email, of the mistreatment. If they did nothing I would leave after that, because I have emails to back up why I left the assignment early.

  5. derwood kirkwood

    You did the right thing; it would have right to send CC his boss and bosses boss on the way out. I’ve worked nearly 30 years in IT and the level of BS companies dish out these days is ridiculous. So many of my colleagues seem to live in fear–they feed right into the latest corporate asthetic: “you’re lucky to even have a job”.

    I say BS to that idea. Corporations don’t give a damn about you; they will cut you faster than one can say “you’re fired” the second they think it makes sense–for whatever reason–regardless of how dedicated or hard working you’ve been.

    And worrying about the recruiter? What a joke. The only truth to know about them is they care about one thing, and only one thing: the money they make off you–they could care less about you beyond how it impacts their bottom line–as evidenced by the reaction of your recruiter. Recruiters are leeches and a dime a dozen; the only reason you get a job is because of your skills–period. The recruiter is relevant only in the 15-25% he/she will strip off what the client pays, thus leaving the rest for you. So don’t worry about it.

  6. Agreed on the “2-week notice” thing. These companies– ALL of them– think it is expected that you give them “proper notice”, yet when they no longer want/need you there… they can tell you to leave the same day?

    If I were King for a day… there would be many CEO’s and managers banished to Siberia. But one can only dream…

  7. Did he do the right thing by quitting? Of course he did, but before he left he should have reported the ‘managerial’ behavior to the company and the contracting agency. There is never a good reason to tolerate abuse from a superior.

  8. Been there, done that. I had a micro-manager not long ago who treated me like an entry level gopher instead of the professional with 20 years of experience that I am. Holding a contractor hostage by renewing the contract monthly and acting in a patronizing manner are not the sort of things we should have to put up with. I took it for a while, but finally had enough of his condescending attitude and packed up and left. All of my contracts these days state that either party can end the relationship at any time for any reason, so I didn’t feel bad about a lack of notice.

    Some companies treat their contractors just like employees, while others treat them like cattle, herding them into cramped cubicle or worse, those “open collaborative workspaces” that resemble telemarketing boiler rooms. The best part of being a contractor is that we’re not tied to the company, so we don’t have the same issues as an employee who may be contemplating a walk-out.

    There are decent agencies out there, but even they are working for their customers — the client companies — and not the contractors, no matter how nice they are or what they tell you about being on your side. It’s business, after all, so I don’t fault them for trying to make money. I just ensure that I’m working with reputable companies who aren’t going to play games with me and screw me over. I ignore the ones who spam me with irrelevant jobs and screen my calls so I don’t have to talk to them unnecessarily. It’s business for me, too.

  9. Quietly walking away and never coming back is commendable. You hear all too often of people that turn it into a confrontation and even go “postal”. Jason should also complain LOUDLY to the contracting company, and promise to name the contracting company in a negative light for not standing behind him in the situation. All Jason has to do is tell the truth, and telling the truth afaik isn’t yet libelious.

  10. I hate to say it but reading this story gave me a little bump of “stick it to the man” envy. I had a similar situation years back with a client. I walked into a “good ol’ boys” club of long-time friends, college buddies, etc and was always the black sheep. I was treated differently and expected to play by a different set of standards as the other employees. I was on a contract-to-hire basis at the time. Sadly, the company as a whole was unique and exciting to work for. However, I let a couple of mid-level IT managers push me right out the door. I regret, to this day, not walking out and leaving them in the lurch.

  11. One thing I think recruiters need to realize is that those of us who are professional contractors have a different mindset than captive employees. We’re used to taking care of ourselves and managing our own careers, finances, and benefits. Most of us are not looking for an agency or employer to take care of us. We understand that we’re commodities and can be dropped with little or no notice.

    Some might consider us cynical, but I think we understand more than most that the days of working for the same company for 30 or 40 years and retiring with a fat pension are long gone. The pace of business nowadays requires companies to react quickly, so they don’t always have the time to spend on long-term training — hence why they hire experienced contractors to fill in the gaps and cover things of a more immediate nature.

    For us, the idea of leaving a job quickly is not a foreign experience. I suspect most of us who have been contracting for any length of time have a war story or two about contracts ending abruptly for whatever reason. It’s far less likely to incite panic because we’re used to having to hunt for new gigs on a regular basis and have far better contingency plans in place than the usual employee would (if not, you really should have your plan B ready to go!).

    So, with regards to this contractor, regular employees might consider what he did to be unprofessional, but it’s not an unusual occurrence in the contracting world. The clients have the right to ditch us with no notice, so they shouldn’t expect any different from us. Agencies often don’t consider that. I’ve had a couple try to slip me a contract requiring 4 weeks notice. I don’t sign that sort of thing. A few agencies have even seemed offended that I read every word of the contract. My guess is they simply don’t understand that those of us who prefer contract work think differently than those who do it as a stepping-stone to a permanent job.