Thursday, February 26, 2009

Why I am still at Aquilent

Usually people are shocked when they find that I have been at the same company for over 8 years. Especially since I am in IT where the norm is to jump from job to job in search of higher and higher salary. They tell me I can make more money at other places; that doing short-term contracting can bring in bigger bucks. 

Well, here are the reasons I am still at Aquilent close to 9 years after driving to a mostly residential area of Laurel for a job interview with an anonymous IT contractor:
  • the commute can't be beat. It's 7.3 miles of local roads.
  • the medical benefits are excellent! Both in terms of the quality of the providers and in the price the employee pays. When my wife and I decided to consolidate our health care with a single company, we found out that what I'll pay at Aquilent for "Employee + Family" is way cheaper than what she would pay at her company for "Employee + 1". That's coverage for more people for less money.
  • Tuition reimbursement. In fairness, my Masters diploma really ought to be made out to "Babatunde O. Akinsanya/Aquilent Inc." 'cos they paid for a huge chunk of it.
  • employees are treated like adults. By that I mean, none of that "big brother" crap other companies pull with their employees. You wan to install some software on your computer, go ahead. Just make sure it's legal and malware-free. Want to work from home? Just clear it in advance with your immediate supervisor. No filling out forms in triplicate around here.
  • the company pays $25 towards employees' home broadband service. And no you don't have to and are not expected to work at home to benefit. Sure it's not much, but $25 is $25
  • Casual Mondays. Casual Tuesdays. Casual Wednesday. You get the point. Every day is casual. In fact, it's so casual my wearing a tie to work once prompted my boss (not you Greg) to stop me in the parking lot and reassure me that the company is doing ok and not to leave. True story.
  • The game room (with classic xbox, wii, ping pong, foosball and pool tables) and gym (which I don't use).
  • Profit sharing.
  • variety of projects. Since I've been here, I have
  1. worked on a quasi-research project to create a framework for Java applications
  2. used the result of that project to create a software that helps NASA's flight engineers with scheduling data downloads from satellites
  3. worked on setting up an enterprise portal for the DOJ
  4. worked on a web service project for the DOL's Bureau of Labor Statistics
  5. supported an electronic fishing permit application for the National Marine Fisheries Service
  6. worked on an e-procurement system for the Navy (already been used to award billions of dollars in contracts)
  7. developed a system that helps universities and the Navy better process grant applications
  8. developed a system that helps the Navy track milestones for their procurements
Now I am not going to lie and say everything is great. There are things that can frustrate you:
  • having to purchase a second monitor with my own money (developers should, by law, have a minimum of 2 monitors).
  • the slow pace of hardware refresh for developers (sure 80GB hard drive sounds like a lot but after installing Visual Studio and MSDN, you can quickly run out of disk space).
  • the hoops one has to jump through to get the company to pay out of pocket for developer productivity tools
But all in all, Aquilent is still a great place to work. In my opinion anyway.

And yes we are hiring but please don't do this but do this