Former Tesla Motors Inc Employee Sparks Reddit Debate About Work

Tesla Motors not only has a hard sell to get customers to buy its pricey cars but also to attract employees, or so it seems. However, employees appear to be so enchanted by the EV manufacturer and its superstar CEO, Elon Musk, that they’re more than willing to sacrifice pay and work long hours not only for the experience of working there but also just because they support the mission the company is “selling” along with its cars.

Former Tesla Motors Inc Employee Sparks Reddit Debate About Work

Indeed, a job at Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) does look excellent on a resume, but because of the automaker’s relatively young age, it’s probably less lucrative than positions at countless other firms. And if workers are only going there for experience and to put the company on their resume, it begs the question about whether turnover is an issue.

Former Tesla worker invites questions

A Reddit user by the name of frmrTSLA started a thread inviting questions about what it’s like working at Tesla. The user reminded readers that he (or she) is still under a non-disclosure agreement that they will not violate, and it didn’t take long for the questions to start rolling. The Reddit user also posted the letter he received from Elon Musk to prove that he once worked at Tesla.

One of the first questions he was asked was from a new hire who wanted to know if it was a good decision to take the job, to which he said:

“It depends. Work life balance can be a bit wonky but if you understand that your work is changing the world and believe in the mission you won’t really feel like you’re working.”

The Reddit user who asked the question, MadMaximander, admitted to “definitely” being “behind the mission of moving toward renewable energy for all,” adding, “I feel like it’s more about selling an idea than a car.”

It’s certainly an interesting response that sums up a good portion of the rest of the conversation in which Reddit users weighed long hours against experience at a high-profile company and just working for a mission. User frmrTSLA said later in the post that he and other employees are “TRUE ZEALOTS.” He worked in what amounted to a sales position, earning commission. When asked about whether he owned a Tesla, he said:

“No, I do not. In my position…one could justify it if they pushed the numbers and consistently killed it in sales but I didn’t think it was financially prudent based on my income. I want one as bad as anyone though!”

He did, however, make enough to be driving a BMW 3 Series.

What’s the pay like at Tesla?

Another alleged Tesla employee who contributed to the Reddit thread (using the name dudejustdoit) described himself as “a volunteer getting free room and board. With stock options and a great resume.”

This was posted in response to the question posed by another user (cliffordcat), who asked, “Do you really think working 80 hours in a purchasing department somewhere is changing the world? Or just working for free?”

User cliffordcat went on to say that he had interviewed at Tesla but that the automaker wasn’t able to offer terms that worked for him. He responded:

“It just seems to me like they’re selling the “change the world” thing to employees to justify making you work 80 hours for 40 hours of pay. For a handful of engineers working on new technology, I can sort of see the truth in it. For everyone in purchasing, production, quality, etc – How are you changing the world? Your job is virtually identical to those at any other auto company, only with twice the work for the same pay. The stock option aspect is potentially a payoff, but I’d be a little nervous buying in at the $200+/share point.

I dunno, man. I just can’t reconcile all this talk about being so progressive with work/life balance priorities coming straight from the 1900s. Burning out your talent isn’t a recipe for sustainable success.”

We have contacted Tesla Motors and will update this article if a response is received.

About the Author

Michelle Jones
Michelle Jones was a television news producer for eight years. She produced the morning news programs for the NBC affiliates in Evansville, Indiana and Huntsville, Alabama and spent a short time at the CBS affiliate in Huntsville. She has experience as a writer and public relations expert for a wide variety of businesses. Michelle has been with ValueWalk since 2012 and is now our editor-in-chief. Email her at