From New Albany, OH — 10/07/2008
PAY: The pay is decent entry level (started at $47k out of college). However, you only get reviewed once a year and the pay increase that I received for doing well was not even enough to compensate for cost-of-living increases! Of course, more senior associates get better reviews and in turn get even better merit increases. If you stay at the company and someone important decides they like you, you will be compensated VERY WELL. Average salary is over $70k, avg age is around 26.
RESPECT: For the most part, I feel that I am more respected at A&F than I would be at other companies. For being just out of college, I have significant responsibilities and am an expert on my areas. You occasionally have people who will try to throw you under the bus to further their own careers, but for the most part I feel that my ideas are respected, implemented, and my judgment is valued.
BENEFITS: Intangibles such as gym membership, beautiful campus, bring your dog to work day (for charity), HR initiatives such as free Cold Stone ice cream, etc make it a unique work environment. I love being able to go down to take Pilates during my lunch break.
JOB SECURITY: The higher you get in the company, the more you have to worry. Make the big MJ mad and you might be asked to 'leave the company'. Otherwise, they generally do not fire people unless there is malicious intent. Given the high turnover rate, they try to keep people who are performing well.
WORK/LIFE BALANCE: I don't work on the product side so I generally work 8:30-6:30 on a daily basis. However, those on the product side, especially merchants can be expected to work ibanker's hours without that kind of pay. I have known friends who "hope to get out early enough" for a 9pm dinner on a Friday night. Others worked until 2am and come in at 7am for a week at a time b/c of staffing issues within teams and constant increases in the number of the styles for which they are responsible.
CAREER POTENTIAL/GROWTH: Office politics is definitely present. There are a lot of 'divas' even though MJ says it is a 'diva-free zone'. People do NOT take responsibility EVER when they mess up, and try to play the blame-share game all day long and spread it around as much as possible. This can hinder your growth as all promotions must go through the leadership committee. Make one of them angry enough times and you are such to be stuck in your current title. Other than that, if someone important likes you and you are attractive enough, you'll go really far at A&F. Performance is not as much of a factor as others. HR is struggling to come up with a good promotion strategy (time vs. merit).
LOCATION: Not everyone can live in Columbus, OH. But it is a medium-sized city, very youthful with Ohio State right there, yet it is not dominated by the college. New Albany's campus is BEAUTIFUL...especially in the fall! You can scoot around campus, enjoy a pickup game of basketball or sand volleyball on campus, not to mention you can scoot around to all of them. Wood-burning fires burn in the colder months and generally it is a really cool place to work. New Albany is a small town outside of Cbus (reverse commute of ~25 min), really uppity but very beautiful, especially if you are older and have a family.
CO-WORKER COMPETENCE: My direct coworkers are EXTREMELY intelligent--we work well together in a team environment and learn off of each other while maintaining our own autonomy. Other associates within the company though, I sometimes wonder how they get through life. These people are mostly on the creative side of the business and are (usually) good at what they do, but that's about it. You listen to conversations at the cafe and you might mistakenly think you were in a middle school lunch hour "OhmiGOD did you watch Gossip Girl last night?"
WORK ENVIRONMENT: If you have body-confidence issues, this is NOT the place for you. If you would get intimidated walking into a frat party, this is not the environment for you! When you come into HO in the spring/summer, girls are wearing our skirts, tanks, and flip flops...it's like the sorority house all over again. There is a strong gay presence, at least more than your typical employer. A LOT of emphasis is placed on your looks and 'being current.' The night before a quarterly (promotions!!) or a big meeting, and ALWAYS before going in with Mike, you find a lot of associates going into the store to pick up something from the current season. Overall, there is a place for everyone at A&F professionally....but it is NOT the place for everyone in terms of corporate culture. It is like college all over again...another poster on here mentioned the very strong mantra of "work hard, party harder" and that definitely holds true. I am sad to admit that I missed work a few Fridays ago b/c I was too hungover/still drunk from the night before, after a 4-day going-out stint. The nice thing is that they bring in associates straight from college in training classes, so you are with 25 others your age and in the same situation. You make friends quickly, but it is difficult to keep work/personal issues separate. A&Fcest is rampant and almost seems encouraged!