What Apple employees really think about the company's internal corporate culture

Steve Jobs using an iPadGetty Images NewsSteve Jobs using an iPad.

Apple has a reputation for being extremely secretive in its day-to-day operations. So secretive, in fact, that some employees didn’t know they were working on the first iPad until Steve Jobs unveiled it on stage. 

That makes us all wonder what it must be like to work for Apple. 

We know it can be intense. Alan Dye, Apple’s vice president of user-interface design, recently gave a great quote about what it can be like to work for the Cupertino company, which has given him a mild version of imposter syndrome. 

“I’m scared to death that at some point I’m going to get found out. You know, Tim [Cook] is going to realise the truth about me, which is I’m terrible.”

Apple employees aren’t the only ones to feel inadequate at times. Lots of coders at Google feel the same way.

Still, we rarely hear anything from ordinary Apple employees about what the company is like on the inside. Luckily, there are several Quora threads devoted to answering this question. Apple employees have also spoken about their experiences on podcasts, and post some great pictures on Instagram at times too.

We put together some edited quotes from the more interesting answers, Some of their answers date back to the Steve Jobs era, and some of them are more recent.

Justin Maxwell, user interface designer: First rule of Apple, don't talk about Apple.


'If I was still at Apple, I would not be responding to this question, nor would I feel wronged for not being able to ... The general idea is this: You are part of something much bigger than you. The ideas you talk about in the hall, the neat tricks you figured out in CSS, the new unibody machining technique, that's part of your job, something you are paid to do for Apple's success, not something you need to blog about to satisfy your ego. Don't f--- it up for everyone.'

Another anonymous employee adds that many keep quiet about working for the company:

'Those who love the job (and I count myself as one of them) feel a strong sense of loyalty to the company. Some of us tend to keep the fact that we work for Apple pretty hush hush when out in public though since we never know if the person we're talking to happens to be an Apple fan or an Apple hater (and it's the latter, then good luck trying to explain that you're not the person who invented every single feature that they happen to dislike on the iPhone, iPad, MacBook, iMac, and what not).'

Melton: Even Sunday is a work night -- unless an exec's favourite show is on.

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano.

'Sunday is a work night for everybody at Apple because it's the exec meeting the next day. So you had your phone out there, you were sitting in front of your computer, it didn't matter if your favourite show was on.

But you could count on the hour that 'The Sopranos' was on that Scott (Forstall) wouldn't bug you 'cause he was watching 'The Sopranos.' And that was your reprieve. You could go to the bathroom, you could have a conversation with your family.'

Ganatra and Melton's quotes are taken from their appearance on the Debug 47 podcast, which has been transcribed by Ole Begemann.

Apple Store employees: There's a special name for the important moment when employees pass training and get out to work. It's called 'getting shirtified.'

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TC Dotson, position undisclosed: Apple is a walking contradiction.

Paul Miller/EPA

'Apple is interesting. On one hand, you have 'Think Different' propaganda posters all over the wall (you have all seen these ad campaigns and know what they are about). On the other hand, Apple has the strictest rules of any place I have worked. Apple cares about its brand image above all else.'

Anonymous employee: It gives you an extra push to lose those last few pounds.

A rendering of the new Apple campus.

'There are a lot more fit and good looking people at Apple than otherwise. It's actually pretty ridiculous. Almost everyone is really athletic. Many people do triathlons, bike races, and marathon. It's a tough place to be if you're more than 20 pounds overweight, but then again, it can also be that extra push you need to get in shape. I know of people who've lost 60 pounds and are no longer pre-diabetic because they started going cycling with their coworkers over lunch.'

They also think the food is great:

'The food in the cafeteria is de.li.cious. I know, I know. It's not free, but all the main dishes are $US8 or less, and pretty much restaurant grade. And I've never ever heard anyone working here complain about the price of the food. However, there are free apples all day long. (Free apples at Apple. Get it?)'

The same employee: No splurging or showing off

No suits here!

'Similar to other tech companies in the Silicon Valley, people tend to dress pretty casually. No Gucci handbags or Versace suits, at least not in my department, and no one goes out of their way to show off how wealthy they are either. You usually only get a sense of someone's wealth after you've known them a while, and see them driving a Tesla, or riding a Cervelo bike, or hear them talking about their horse in their private stable.

On the other hand, not everyone is rich. With housing prices in SF and SV hitting the roof, most people do think twice before splurging on stuff.'

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