Hacker Career Advice

Big N’ Beige

At Caterpillar’s Tech HQ in Mossville Illinois, there used to be enormous office building which sat over 3,000 people. Building AC was so large that it took 20 minutes to get from your car to the front door, the main cafeteria had 20 microwaves (which were always full), and each massive hallway doubled as a tornado shelter.

Upon first glance, the building was a souless shrine to Corporate America: RFID badges, breakaway lanyards, and OSHA posters as far as the eye could see. But, even in these khaki badlands, there was life!

Engineers and Procurement Specialists took lunchtime laps through the 2+ miles of corridors, laughing as they caught up on their weekends and planned their next quarter. The Society of Women Engineers planned fundraisers, helped new employees acclimate, and built connections across divisions.

Managers smiled warmly during meetings and asked what they could do to help. Security guards didn’t mind giving you directions from one Narnia-like wing to another. And even the Electronics Tech working on tight deadlines looked forward to getting to their test benches.

Startups are neat with their yoga balls and quirky architecture, but please don’t judge an office by its cubicles. Even the beigest, most blah offices can foster billion dollar businesses, amazing engineers, and a fun working environment.