I recently read this article on Oxides compensation model. The premise is a uniform salary ($175k / year) for every employee. Advertising this as a reflection of the companies core values they boast a wide variety of advantages including a more harmonious work environment, promoting teamwork rather than individual successes, and an even playing field, where everybody at the company is valued and approachable. The rebuttals on various criticism make obvious the time spent thinking through this model, with some rather compelling arguments.

One thing I believe this model does right is reducing the importance of compensation. As a millennial, most of my adult life has been, in some respect, driven by money. Go to a good college, to get a good job, to climb the corporate ladder, transition to management, and it goes on and on. This career path often entails long grueling hours, working on things you don’t enjoy, moving to a region you don’t want to live in, and other components of the “American Dream”

During my recent post academia job search the importance my advisors and peers put on compensation was troubling. Far too often the question “How much was the offer?” preceded “What would you be working on?”. I have been forced to face that I may be in a stunning minority, believing a worthwhile job is more appealing than a big number. Perhaps software engineering, and the greater computer science community, is orthogonal to the moving generation shifts towards being happy. That is, of course, not to say that you can not work a job you enjoy for a lot of money; but for many that is not the reality.

Accepting an offer came to what is the best fit for the things that are important to me - a simple optimization / matching problem over the environment and perks of a position. Most important was the opportunity to grow. This means personally by being offered challenging assignments, educational opportunities, and some level of exploratory freedom. Professional growth including networking with the right circles and multi-directional paths for career advancement. I wanted to make a difference working on something meaningful, for me this means developing software deployed at scale and requiring novel solutions which address real-world issues. And finally work in an environment where I enjoy the place I work and the people I work with, which is not always easy being a small town avid outdoorsman.

I think base salary may be the least important component of an overall compensation package. Leading 401k and health / dental / vision care plans ensure you have a long, healthy, worry-free (perhaps relatively) life. A large equity stake shows you are valued at the company and accepting it shows you believe in what your building. There are many other telling components, PTO policies imply mental health advocacy, relocation costs, etc. All are important to factor into a decision.

There is an old saying “money isn’t everything, but having it sure makes things easier”. Let’s be honest, the greater tech community, especially those with graduate level degrees, aren’t having difficulty living on the salaries available. Perhaps there should be more emphasis on the intangibles of a position and in doing so a focal shift from chasing a larger number towards building meaningful and fulfilling solutions.

2 day(s) offloaded in the 100DaysToOffload challenge.