From Red Bank, NJ — 07/02/2008
Pay is pretty much right at market, but if you accept a lowball salary to start, you're screwed for life. Raises are usually near inflation, so buying power doesn't change much, and bonuses are nonexistent unless you bring major business into the company.
Respect is a double-edged sword--if you're respected, you're also vulnerable if you fail, even if your failures would be successes by anyone else's measure. Expectations of your performance go up slightly faster than your performance does. OTOH, when you've earned respect, it keeps the micromanagers away. Benefits are pretty sucky; what others have said is pretty accurate. In particular, Aetna's mail-order pharmacy sucks like a Dyson; I long for Merck Medco. PTO (vacation+sick) is 19 days to start which is nice, but it only goes up by five days at ten years of service, and then never again.
Job security is highly dependent on the contract you're on; I'm lucky enough to be on a big one, so my own security is as high as its ever been. Others I know seem to be constantly looking for coverage. Work/life is love/hate--I can telecommute, and I pick my hours, but I always catch hell for what goes on when I'm on vacation, even though I'm usually answering emails and such. Career potential is nil if you don't want to be a project or program manager. I'm a techie lifer, and there might be one promotion left for me before retirement.
Can't blame anyone for location problems; I knew the commute would be bad when I took the job. But the occasional commute to my home office is nice! My coworkers vary, but most have a lot of experience and are pretty sharp. I'd say my group is a bit above average in talent compared to the other groups I've worked in over the years. In other group, I've seen drooling incompetence, though. We inherited a building from an acquired company, so we're in offices, not cubes. Plus, we have an excess of space, so most people have private offices. Our organization was created from nothing about five years ago, so we're not saddled with old crappy equipment, either. It's the work environment that keeps me there when other things get ugly.
Bottom line is I have a great job, but I think I'm one of the lucky ones.