With the extreme competition for senior jobs at Apple, it will come as no surprise that you’re expected to work hard and put in extra hours. But according to two former managers speaking in a Debug podcast, the demands are far greater than anyone realizes when they join, with immediate responses to emails expected even in the middle of the night.

Sunday is a work night for everybody at Apple because it’s the exec meeting the next day. So you had your phone out there, you were sitting in front of your computer, it didn’t matter if your favorite show was on […] You were basically on until, like, 2 o’clock in the morning …

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According to Don Melton – the engineer who started the Safari project at Apple – and Nitin Ganatra, former iOS Apps Director, the 24/7 culture began under Steve Jobs‘ leadership and continued when Tim Cook took over.

You get an email forwarded to you that’s not to you. It’s from Scott, but it’s a forward from Steve and it’s just coming at this crazy hour, right? You just know that there’s this firehose of emails that are just going out at 2:45 in the morning and there are VPs or executive VPs who are scrambling to get answers. And that was just week after week, month after month, over the years […]

When you hear the so-called apocryphal stories about Tim Cook coming to work in the wee hours and staying late, it’s not just some PR person telling you stories to make you think that Apple executives work really hard like that. They really do that. I mean, these people are nuts. They’re just, they are there all the time.

Cook, like Jobs before him, is rumored to get by on just 3-4 hours sleep a night: “you would never know what time of the day or night you would get email from that man.” Even on vacation, said Ganatra, you checked your email at least four times a day, and felt like you were slacking if you took three or four hours to reply to an email from your boss.

The work, says Melton, was fun and fulfilling, and he got to work with a lot of brilliant people – just “workaholic, psychotic, brilliant people.”

There was occasional respite: apparently Scott Forstall loved watching The Sopranos, so you knew there was one hour on a Sunday night you could relax.

Apple employees may love working for the company (in corporate if not in retail), but the message seems to be that you have to know what you’re getting into – and it’s probably ever tougher and more intense than you imagined. When Tim Cook sends those memos thanking employees for their hard work, you can be pretty sure they earned it.

Via Business Insider

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