I've had four or five jobs since graduating from college in 1999.
Shortly after college, I worked as an independent contractor. I was able to find enough work to support myself, but at the time I didn't understand how to grow a business and it was clear I wasn't going to get very far without some luck (this was during a recession). At the same time, I found myself really frustrated that I didn't own the platforms I was delivering. So I could have a bunch of really promising ideas and explore them, but if the client wasn't interested that was it. I realized that I wanted to be able to "own" the areas I was working on and grow something over time.
My next job, I worked in technology at a big media company. I liked the company, but the challenges they had weren't particularly interesting to me. I got the "ownership" I was looking for and was able to make progress, but I was restless: I wanted to be working in a faster paced environment on more challenging problems.
So, I joined a friend working at a traditional 'big bank.' This was... eye opening. The work was very fast paced, many of my colleagues were very talented, and I was really challenged to work on hard problems. Unfortunately, I really did not enjoy the environment and culture of the place. So even though I was able to make an impact and quickly got a lot of responsibility, promoted, etc, I was really unhappy and quit after two years to join Two Sigma.
Finally, at Two Sigma I was able to have the things I was looking for: working with smart people on hard problems; far fewer politics than at the other companies I worked at; supportive environment where everyone is really focused on doing the right thing and "getting stuff done." This attitude really permeates down from the top of the company: focusing on doing good work and thinking/building for the future, accepting where you are today and thinking about how to get where you want to be tomorrow. I never really thought I was the kind of person to stay at one company for a long time before finding TS, but I've been here for 13 years now and I really enjoy it. One of the reasons I wanted to join The Whether is that I think TS is a great company and I'd like to encourage other people to look for places where they, too, can be successful. It doesn't have to be TS -- the truth is, some companies really are better places to work than others (depending on what you're looking for). For me, TS is a supportive environment that challenges me every day to do good work, and I really appreciate that.