Recently I was asked why I am so loyal to thoughtbot, what makes it such a great place to work and such a hard place to leave. These questions inspired me to put together this post answering those questions, but also clueing you in on some good things to look for when finding your next gig.
Let's start with the obvious things that I shouldn't need to tell you to look for. First off, find somewhere that pays what you want. Here, the pay is great. I have only been working full time as a web designer for about 2 years and I'm making more than anyone ever told me I would, with lots of room to grow. Next, location. Find somewhere convenient for you and somewhere that's located in a great area. Here in Boston, thoughtbot is as downtown as you can get. The commute across the river takes me about 10 minutes, it's perfect. Lastly, of the things I find pretty standard when looking for a job, are the hours. Find something manageable for you. If you enjoy working 60 hours a week, than by all means have at it but I prefer a nice 40 hour work week. The 9-5 (or 10-6 in my case) lifestyle here at thoughtbot is very conducive to being the most efficient employee I can. This helps me produce the best work I can and actually makes me feel much better about my results than when I worked 60 hours a week trying to force out good design.
Try your best to find a company with a good reputation. Obviously this can't always be the case if you're working with a startup or someone kind of new, but if the company has a good track record and is respected in the community, there's nothing better. While we're talking about the community, it's just another huge plus when your company is an active part of it's respective commmunity. thoughtbot has always been a huge part of the Ruby community. Giving back in as many ways as possible (open source stuff, hackfests, speaking events, etc) has always been a priority. Lately we're trying to become a bigger player in the design community so we can help contribute to the designers as much as we've done for the Rubyists. If your company shows a care for the people around them and loves to help the community grow, you know you're in a good place.
Not enough can be said about the people you work with. One of my favorite things here is the sense of family. Everyone is close knit, we hang out a lot, and generally we all very much enjoy everyone else's company. There are no major quarrels in the office, it makes for a very pleasant and productive working environment. With this family feel comes a sense of equality. There is no severe authority structure, thoughtbot is not a dictatorship. Of course there are bosses, but they're more like older brothers. There's nothing I would say in front of my coworkers that I wouldn't feel comfortable saying in front of the big guys, it's just an incredibly comfortable feeling. Apart from personalities, the people you want to work with should be experts. It's great knowing everyone surrounding you is the best at what they do. Everyone takes an enormous amount of pride in what they do, and won't accept anything less than the best. It's also helpful because you know someone in the office can solve your problems and you can usually help solve theirs.
The Rest of the Awesome
What follows next are just a myriad of great things here at thoughtbot, and you should be looking for some of them, if not all of them. Incentives are huge. Scheduled raises, company vacations, awesome parties, bonuses, commission on bringing in new projects, just to name a few. Find a place that knows how to take care of their employees and its real driving goal is making a fun place to go to work. We hear that so often here and it's very comforting, "We try to make thoughtbot a fun place to work." This mentality is a proven winner, I can't speak highly of it enough. All of these things lead to great success, and with great success brings a little financial leeway. Not having to penny pinch allows us to all work with the best and newest equipment and occasionally buy anything we need that we feel would make us better at what we do. The company knows we are an investment and allows us to buy what we need. This is a great perk. Since the company invests in us, we are always ready to give back. Trusting that we're the best at what we do, they're always open for our ideas, opinions, and suggestions. Having your opinion count makes you feel important, just another way to keep the employees happy.
Go find your dream job
All rolled into one big ball, the biggest thing to take away from this post is to find the job that will make you happy. These are all just things that I have that make me happy, so maybe they'll help you find that great place to work. Because of all these reasons and probably some others I'll think of after publishing this post, thoughtbot has my heart. Barring anything very unexpected, and until I've gotten sick of design, you'll find me here at my desk inside thoughtbot HQ. I can only hope you have the same luxury or soon find a place that makes you just as happy.