For those of you who don't know, I work in the "Office of the CTO" at MetaCarta. That means, basically, that I work directly for the CTO. The CTO (also the founder of the company) is astoundingly bright, and typically about 6-12 months ahead of the game in understanding what people are going to want from the company in the near future. This is an extremely good thing to have, especially if you can execute on it, and one of the things that it's my job to do is to execute on it.
However, because The Boss is always thinking ahead, it's very hard to get anything done. When we do get something done, it's typically attached with a list of 12 or 14 other things that depend on it... or the priority list has changed so that it was no longer important to get done anyway.
Apparently, this is kind of like grad school. You work hard -- scramble, even -- to get to someplace, then find out your adviser has changed his or her mind on what you should be doing. Your praise is limited, and when given, usually only with caveats. You keep an odd schedule, but always make sure to show up at the meetings for the free food.
There are differences. Even when the priorities are vastly changing from hour to hour, I still absolutely love my job. I love the people I work with, where I work, and even the way that we do things. I wouldn't give it up for the world. It's also a *job*, not an academic position, which has its benefits as far as compensation goes.
All in all, I'm just really happy to be where I am. I was mostly just interested to find out that I'm essentially experiencing a situation that's similar to what people experience in grad school, since I'd never been exposed to that environment. Having left in my sophmore year of the UIUC undergrad program, I didn't have the context.
So, work is kind of like grad school. With a better environment, better pay, and more friendly people around you. I think I'll stick with work.