Cultural Facades and the "Coolest" Webfirms
There are a lot of places out there that do what we do, sure there’s different talents and focus, but there’s a lot we and other web and design firms have in common. What we do is revere good design and in order to do that we have to bring in the best creative people in the world; in our case that meant two People of Extraordinary Ability Visas. Our team of internationally acquired designers would most assuredly agree. In order to get that top quality talent we have to make sure that the ThoughtLab office is, and remains, the coolest place to work basically anywhere on the planet.
Unfortunately we’re not the only ones on this cool office kick—it’s become an industry standard. Hip work places with slick office furniture, flat screen TVs, and a hiring page showing pictures of young professionals partying and playing is now most of what people see when they look for jobs in the web and design industry.
What they all leave out—us included—is that the busy world of client driven work isn’t all video games and office parties, it’s hard work. Much like when the Foot Clan promised skateboards and video games when the new recruits showed up web firms will flip the tables once you’re hired and it’s back to the grind when the work starts pouring in.
I was told there would be no kung fu.
Here are a few tips to make sure that when you’re looking for a job doing design or web development that you make the right choice and you find the best fit for your career.
1. Ask about how often late nights you should plan for. A good company should say zero, but in a business based on client satisfaction and tight deadlines it’s a reality we all have to face. Ask about what kind of benefits late nights will get you – the correct answer is extra pay, payed time off, or other worthwhile benefits.
2. Ignore toys that are too good to be true. An Xbox on a flat screen in the break room may look like a dream come true, but time constraints will quickly turn it into a time management torture device. Do you want to squeeze in one more hour of Call of Duty or do you want to finish your work before sunset?
3. Many firms will show pictures of wrap parties on their hiring page. Wrap parties aren’t just the silver monkey at the end of Olmec’s Hidden Temple, they’re a time for everyone to relax after a big project is finally completed and unwind a bit. Unfortunately other project deadlines sometimes make these impossible, and before you can move “in development” files from your desktop to the “completed” folder you’ll have another project on your plate. This is when it’s important to ask Olmec how often the office has wrap parties, and how much time has passed since the last one during your interview.
4. There’s a thing called ROWE or Results Oriented Work Environment. It’s basically a fancy strategy to produce better output faster while reducing the hours it takes to do. Workplaces like this are good for you, because you work less hours and get more done, and good for your employers because hitting deadlines is easier. Make sure that the environment is one where you can see yourself working efficiently. Too many distractions and temptations might not be good for you, and you might find yourself in Willy Wonka’s chocolate river before you have a chance to try the Gobstoppers.
5. Take a look and get to know the other employees. Do they look like the kinds of guys you’d get along with? The largest part of working in this industry is that almost every project is collaboration between a lot of different people, and it’s important that your style fits in nicely with those around you. Designers and developers have always been different minded people, like Sharks and Jets, but with less finger snapping. Skill is paramount, but so is camaraderie, so try to find a place where the two get along.
Ignore the gloss and find a place that’s honest with itself and what it does. At ThoughtLab we endeavor to make the work place as fun and satisfying as possible. We have group lunches as often as we can, play games in our free time, relax in massage chairs during breaks, and celebrate project wraps when deadlines aren’t creeping up. We may not be as cool as the Foot Clan and we won’t require you to bow down to the Shredder, but at ThoughtLab we can promise an exciting and satisfying work place with a culture of creativity and personal satisfaction. Plus, we have a fantastic location with free parking , a great view of downtown Salt Lake City, and a gym next door that helps to remind us we should really go to the gym.