Have you ever thought about working for one of the most popular and successful American IT companies out of Europe? I did it, but let me tell you all about the bright and dark sides about working for Apple from the European headquarters in Ireland, Cork.
After I graduated from University, I was working for a company but had planned to quit and travel around the world for a year. So, actually it wasn’t me who applied for Apple, but it all happened through a recruiter who contacted me via LinkedIn.
I decided to just give it a try as I thought in the back of my mind: “It probably won’t work out anyways”. However, I had 2 interviews, did an online test regarding my technical background and had a background check. About one week later, they contacted me and offered me the job. I decided to go for 1 year and then go on my world trip, as this was a great chance to get more work experience right after graduation.
If you want to get contacted for jobs on LinkedIn like I did, make a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn jobs can be an effective way of finding new jobs, and for recruiters to find you. Just make sure that you turn “on” the setting that allows recruiters to contact you for opportunities. Check out our detailed article telling you how to use your LinkedIn account to travel the world.
-Fluent in English, additional language is a plus
-Work visa in Europe
-For entry jobs, no experience or degree is needed
-Communicative and positive attitude
My jobs at Apple
I started in a low position in a call center as a Technical Advisor. Basically, my daily tasks were to take calls and fix customers’ “technical” problems with their Apple products. I had 4 weeks of training and at the beginning only had to support the “easy” products, such as iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod).
Afterwards, I got more and more training, and more and more products to support, but it was a smooth transition and not all at once.
As you can guess, I stayed more than my intended year and had 2 more positions at Apple. After 1 year in the call center, I stayed in customer service. However, I moved to another team which supported the app developers. This was more administrative than technical work. Basically, I was checking their applications to participate in the developer program, helping with payment issues, general questions, and every now and then calling customers.
Finally, after another year I moved to the sales/consulting department which was my favourite job of them all. I joined the chat team which meant no more calls. Whenever a customer visits the Apple website and has questions regarding products, payments, promotions or anything related to our products, he can click the chat button and here I was to help.
Important: At these lower positions, Apple has a policy of staying at least one year in your position before you can apply for the next one. Of course, there are exceptions, but in general it is always 1 year. Obviously, this policy exists to not make people move too fast, as working in a call center isn’t necessarily everybody’s dream job, but honestly you also need at least 3-6 months to get good at it, and become knowledgeable about all of the different products.
Tip: If you want to work for Apple, the most important thing is: get in. Once inside, you can work your way up. The easiest way in are the lower positions like the call center as they are always in need of people.
Pros in working for a big IT company like Apple
1) Room to grow
Like I mentioned before, with Apple you have a lot of chances for growth within the company.
2) Loads of benefits
Benefits include health care, travel, sports, retirement plans, stock plans, products to win, surcharges, discounts on loads of 3rd party products etc.
Let me give you some examples: I paid only 2€ per week to go to the gym at Apple, and it was also only 15€ for any kind of doctor visit instead of 50€ or more outside of Apple. We had a wellness center there with an eye doctor, general doctor, physiotherapist, gynecologist, personal trainers, massage staff and so much more.
We also had sport clubs to join every day such as volleyball, badminton, football, basketball, knitting, painting etc. All exclusively for Apple employees.
We could pay a certain amount of our salary for stocks and a retirement plan, and Apple would match that amount. They also gave us stocks once a year as a present and in order to stay loyal as well as stay longer in the company.
The list of benefits could go on forever. I think even after 3 years, I still didn’t figure out all of them. At some point though, the only big expenses I really had were my monthly rent and food. So, it also helped me to save up quite a lot for travelling and spending the money on things I really wanted to.
3) Support with relocation
As I had to move to Ireland, Apple helped me out financially at the start. They booked my flight from Germany to Ireland. They also provided a certain budget from which I could pay a hotel/hostel/B&B for my first days, my first rent and/or deposit, taxi drives, furniture or whatever I wanted to buy from it. That of course helped a lot as not everyone has enough savings to make such a big move.
Important: Of course, there was one requirement attached to it. You had to stay at least one year in the company to get this money, otherwise you will need to pay it back, or not use it in the first place. This is up to you.
4) Referral money
Each time you refer a person to Apple and he/she gets hired, you receive a big amount of money as a thank you. As I have referred 4 people in total, I can say that I definitely made some extra travel money through that.
I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised about the low hierarchy that exists at Apple. We had a monthly team night out with our managers and could always talk to them about our feelings, if we needed help with something, special requests and more.
All managers go through a very good training program where they learn how to coach in specific ways, give constructive feedback and so on. Of course, there are exceptions, but overall you don’t feel like they are so much more superior than you. That was nice!
Cons in working for a big IT company like Apple
One thing up front: All of these arguments are rather personal, as I think that every person wants different things in life. Some like to have an easy job and never leave their comfort zone, so they might not see some of the points mentioned below as being negative.
1) Slow growth
The disadvantage of big companies like Apple is that you grow rather slow compared to a start ups. You first need to have a reputation, then network like crazy to get yourself seen and heard and do extra projects out of your initiative. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, you need to stay for 1 year in your position which can be a long time for some people, while in a start-up you can switch positions faster and probably don’t even need an interview, but just talk to your boss about wanting new tasks.
2) Learning curve and competition
Just like in any job, you will have a high learning curve at the beginning but then it will go down. The same applies for big companies. At some point, you might get really good at what you are doing and decide that you want something else, but likely won’t be able to get it yet because your dream position might not be open. There is a lot of competition for new positions and your tasks are very repetitive.
At bigger companies you certainly have less freedom when it comes to self-development as everything needs to be approved, along with scheduling time off which can be frustrating. In contrast, for start ups you are more free to try out different tasks which might not be as repetitive. Of course, this also depends on the company.
3) Less flexibility and loads of policies
While start ups probably don’t even have policies written down, but only apply common sense, in big companies like Apple there are loads of policies. There are so many rules and consequences for different kind of actions that it sometimes feels like “prison” and that you have to watch every step you take, every word you say, everything you do.
There are security policies, absent (due to illness for example) policies, business conduct rules and so much more. I mean, it makes sense to have them due to the amount of people, but it was exhausting sometimes compared to when I worked for a start-up.
For example, if you wanted to work from home, it first had to be approved by managers in America. They would have to send the computer to your house, and do some tests there and so on. And if you were given a laptop they first would have to run it through the security department and take all kind of security measurements. Everything just takes much longer.
Another example, if you wanted a certain day off but couldn’t book it through the system, you cannot just walk to your manager and ask. A ticket has to be created which then has to be transferred over to 1-2 managers, who have to approve and send it back. Then it has to be sent to another team, who will adds a segment in your schedule. This can take days sometimes.
The last example that I have is regarding illness. If you were sick more than 3x in 6 months, you usually get a discussion sheet which implies that you must be careful. Some people even got fired after being sick many times and were unable to provide a doctor’s certificate.
4) Living abroad
This didn’t really apply to me, but I know for some people that it is hard to live abroad away from family and friends. Find out now if moving abroad is right for you! Luckily, Apple’s headquarters are located in Ireland so there was no language barrier as the native language is English.
Even though I didn’t enjoy my first 2 years in Ireland, I did love my last 2 years there. For some people, the weather is a problem or they get bored easily from being in a small city. My main problem though was the fact that I was on an island where I couldn’t be spontaneous at all, as I always had to fly (I am a bit scared of flying by the way) which cost a lot of money, especially last minute flights. I did miss many birthdays, baby showers, funerals and so on.
Moving abroad to Ireland
I have to say that working for a big company in Ireland can give you a pretty good standard of life. There is a good tax system in place for people who earn a bit more.
Let me give you one example regarding the main difference of the tax system compared to other countries I lived in. In Germany for example, let’s say you earn 50k, you fall into a certain tax class and they will apply the percentage (let’s say 40%) on the full amount of the salary (50k). In Ireland though, they will apply it gradually. That means, if you earn 50k, they will apply (let’s say 20% for lower tax class) up to 35k that you earned and then 40% (higher tax class) on the difference, so 15k. That’s why in the end I would have less money in Germany than in Ireland, even though I earn the same. It makes a very big difference.
Culture wise, it was super easy to adapt. The Irish are very open minded people and are curious about your story. They will always make conversation and joke around. I really enjoyed that, coming from a colder culture.
I also enjoyed the pub culture. No matter which day of the week you go to a pub, you will always see people enjoying pints, dancing and singing. Also, the variety of beers and ciders are great and delicious. For example, have you ever tried Guiness beer with black currant?
The cool thing about Cork (Apple’s headquarters) is that it is a small but super international city due to the fact that so many huge companies run their businesses there. You will find loads of Germans, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Indians and so on.
I hope you enjoyed the background information about working for Apple in Ireland. Should you have personal questions, feel free to follow up with me and I will be happy to help. I also have contacts who I can hook you up with.