Working at Visa

Visa is a bastion of mediocrity with low morale. I had high hopes when I accepted a role at Visa Inc. in Foster City. I was hired to work on a front end components library, speak at conferences, etc.

Visa has a world famous brand name so even though the company is segregated, sexist and has the lowest employee morale, it will take a long time before all the cookies crumble. Visa is a good place to work if you are a staunch believer in nepotism and the caste system. Other than the regular paycheck, there is nothing good to say about working at Visa.

So why does engineering at Visa suck so bad?

  • Sexist: women hold specific roles and have limited to no chance of growth.
  • Racist: unless you’re Indian, you’re out of luck. Latinos are relegated to cleaning and food services. Being black is OK, as long as you are not African American. Being white is OK too, as long as you’re male.
  • Ageist: Not sure if they’re being cheap or ageist, but if you’re not of Indian descent, the best way to join Visa is as an intern / recent college grad. Anyone older, with experience, skills, and compensation to reflect that, forget it.
  • Cheap: They would rather hire 40 mediocre engineers at $40/hour than 5 excellent engineers at $120/hour. They’re getting rid of their quality contractors and backfilling with less than mediocre “warm bodies”. Pennywise. Pound foolish.
  • Bait and switch. Promised benefits then cut them when we signed on the dotted line. Visa cut the retirement plan (6% pay cut), they increased insurance co-pays by 20%. They required managers to give poor reviews so they didn’t have to give good bonuses, pay raises or stock. They don’t pay for anything: no snacks, no birthday cakes, no small touches to make staff feel valued.
  • Unethical: The $5,200 continuing education benefit they allegedly offer can only be used for college courses, not for conferences or workshops that professionals access as continuing education. They only hire college grads, so a ‘college class’ benefit is not an actual benefit.
  • Name droppers: Where you graduated from is important. What you know is not.
  • Moronic: The quantity of our code is more important than the quality of code. Any good Engineering leader should know a few lines of good code is better than many lines of bad code. At Visa, there are no good leaders. The metrics measure quantity not quality. That they have metrics itself is mind boggling.
  • Empire builders: Managers like to hire many people, building empires, to show their importance. They have no clue how to manage. No interest in managing.
    Just want to brown nose to their own higher-ups, and perhaps add value to their name so they can get a prestigious title, not realizing Visa is one of the few SF Bay Area companies that values nepotism over actual accomplishments.

My advice to potential employees is to go to GlassDoor and read all the reviews. Sort by date. Visa is a sponsor of Glassdoor, so the first review will likely be a positive one, possibly from an intern. You’ll see complaints. Compliments are either outliers or from recruiters and directors trying to obfuscate their abysmal record.

At Visa, the crappy staff stays on as long as they can just for the paycheck.  Go-getters, those with real talent, high tail it, if they made the mistake of joining at all. The odd decent engineers on the payroll are those too lazy to move on to better environments, or those who have had their souls crushed and now lack the confidence they should have. If you want to work with Directors eager to employ talentless seat warmers who wont detect incompetence, by all mean, Visa is always hiring.

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Estelle Weyl

My name is Estelle Weyl. I am a consulting web developer, am writing some books with O'Reilly, run frontend workshops, and speak about web development, performance, and other fun stuff all over the world. If you have any recommendations on topics for me to hit, please let me know via comments. If you want