What does a digital retirement platform, a nonprofit that allows donors to send money to people living in poverty and an online medical care appointment booking service have in common? They’re all growing and looking for talented tech professionals to join their teams.
But what would working at these New York City-based companies actually look like?
Below are stories from nine employees, who explain the work culture, growth opportunities and fun projects they’ve been working on at their respective employer. From a company that prioritizes mission philosophy over technical skills, to an office that hosts weekly “Founders & Jam” free-form talking sessions, here’s an inside look at local companies hiring.
What they do: GiveDirectly is a nonprofit that allows donors to send money to people living in poverty.
Company culture in one word: “Resilient,” Kristen Lee, a data associate, said. “We’ve been growing at an unprecedented rate this year, and I’m continuously impressed by how my colleagues continue to better understand root causes and come up with solutions for how to put recipients first.”
Coolest project Lee worked on at GiveDirectly: “Recently, I’ve been working with our field team in the Democratic Republic of Congo to launch a pilot project in two cities that have been impacted by conflict, migration, Ebola, unemployment and more. Within a month, we started sending out our first transfers to recipients,” Lee said.
“I grew professionally by needing to think critically about how to promote the safety of our recipients in a context that could easily become unstable — more so than most of the countries we work in. For example, we’re spreading payments across a number of days so it’s less likely that folks can identify who recipients are, and we’re adding in specific questions on how safe people feel when cashing out.”
What they do: Zocdoc works toward making healthcare more accessible. Each month, millions of patients use Zocdoc to find in-network doctors and book appointments.
Company culture in one word: “Community,” Alegria Baquero, a senior software engineer, said. “Our company culture is one which cares about people. It’s a culture where supporting and empowering each other across departments is one of our most valuable traits, and where transparency, mutual respect and openness are the norm. As a Latina in tech, it is essential to be part of a community that values diversity. I’ve been a part of various teams, and have felt at home in each and every one of them.
“It’s also our shared mission of serving the larger community of patients across the country. Working every day in a field that has such a meaningful and socially beneficial purpose where patients are first makes me proud.”
Baquero’s growth at Zocdoc: “I’ve been at Zocdoc for more than five years. When I first started, I was passionate about pursuing a career in engineering, but didn’t have the recent work experience since I spent a few years as a graduate student,” Baquero said. “Zocdoc gave me the chance to succeed. I’ve had so much professional growth, working alongside brilliant and supportive engineers.
“In this time, I’ve been exposed to many aspects of systems engineering and product development — from the complex integration with our providers’ practice management systems, to the challenges of concurrent event-based systems that host our healthcare providers’ data. Most recently, I joined our search team, where I have the opportunity to work on one of the core components of our system.”
What they do: Ro is a patient-driven telehealth company that aims to be the patient’s first call for all of their healthcare needs.
Company culture in one word: “Resolute,” Daniel Leslie, director of security engineering, said. “What stands out to me is the way that Ro has been able to design and put into action a vision for a meaningful company culture in an unusually fast yet authentic way. A quick example is every Friday morning, we have a “Founders & Jam” session where we all can come together and talk about what’s going on in a free-form, fluid group setting.
“These meetings feature a no pressure, open agenda that encourages informal discussion. Each week we joke and chat, but also focus and hone in on topics when the matter necessitates it. While these started as in-person breakfast meetings in the office, the tradition and environment has carried over into remote work.”
Coolest project Leslie worked on at Ro: “Earlier this year, my team upgraded the networks and hardware powering of all of Ro’s pharmacies and offices. This gave my team and I the opportunity to travel across the country to each of Ro’s pharmacies, meeting the awesome pharmacy team members and getting a close look at their daily work in service of Ro’s patients,” Leslie said.
“Coincidentally, about two months after completion, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Ro into a remote work setting. Thanks to our upgrades, Ro was able to rapidly implement a scalable remote work and IT support strategy that has been critical throughout the past months.”
What they do: TrialSpark brings new treatments to patients faster by reimagining how clinical trials are run, building software and technology that powers end-to-end clinical trials within its physical network of physician trial sites.
Company culture in one word: “Mission-oriented,” Kev Grice, head of talent, said. “There are a lot of things that people can learn on the job, so when we’re hiring, depending on the role, we’re not necessarily looking for specific experience or technical skills. What we’re really interested in is hiring people who are excited about our mission: To get new treatments to patients faster and more efficiently. That means that everyone you work with at TrialSpark has a reason for being there beyond just getting a paycheck.
“For me, I took this job because I have a family history of Alzheimer’s, a disease that traditional pharmaceutical companies have all but given up on trying to find a treatment for. I know that if we at TrialSpark can achieve our mission, there’s a chance we might get treatment for a disease that’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.”
Coolest project Grice worked on at TrialSpark: “This year, one of TrialSpark’s objectives and key results is to increase the diversity of our staff. It’s something we’ve always valued because we know from the academic literature how problematic it is when clinical trials don’t reflect all patients,” Grice said.
“That’s why this year, we crafted a roadmap by crowdsourcing ideas through a company engagement survey, analyzing our workforce data and relevant benchmarks, and conducted deep research of best practices. We were able to develop a plan that included specific, actionable pipeline goals, optimizations to our interview process and external partnerships. Our whole team learned a ton about what it takes to dismantle biases in hiring.”
What they do: CB Insights analyzes millions of data points on venture capital, startups, patents, partnerships and news mentions to help its customers ask and answer questions about growth, competition and technology.
Company culture in one word: “Humility,” Rob Thomas, technical project manager, said. “It’s always best if we assume positive intent when collaborating with our peers, manager, team and other departments. This means that we recognize everyone is making the best decisions they can with the knowledge and skills they have at the time, and that everyone is contributing to a project to the best of their ability.
“Rather than assuming that we know all of the answers, being humble is about having a genuine interest in what someone else is communicating; this allows us to listen to and engage with others with an open mind and an open heart.”
Thomas’ growth at CB Insights: “I've been working here for four years, and it's been a very rewarding journey. I started my career as a sales development rep and then became a product specialist, where I partnered with account executives on demos and helped close new business. Over time, I picked up side projects in revenue enablement and product marketing; I managed go-to-market plans for product launches and trained our customer-facing team on new releases,” Thomas said.
“Last year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join the product team as a technical project manager. In this role, I lead new feature development, performance optimization, and UX enhancements projects by working closely with our engineering team. I'm so excited to see what the future holds.”
What they do: Sealed solves the problems that make houses too hot, too cold and too wasteful, covering the upfront costs to install energy-saving upgrades like insulation, smart tech and HVAC.
Company culture in one word: “Curious,” Lauren Salz, co-founder and CEO, said. “It is curiosity that propels the Sealed team to solve complex problems in creative and transformative ways. Whether that’s addressing complex industry-wide challenges or dilemmas in our business’ day-to-day, we encourage our team to seek to understand the root causes of problems, and try solutions from new angles.
“One example is the development of our remote sales model: We were the first company (to our knowledge) to design and sell major home efficiency retrofits by phone. This remote model has been hugely successful. It is one of the primary innovations that has helped our operation thrive during COVID-19, and more importantly will drive scalable growth as we expand the business regionally and eventually nationwide.”
Salz’s growth at Sealed: “One of the biggest periods of development and growth for the company and me personally came during our response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Salz’s said.
“Home improvement project installations were paused in New York, and our primary marketing channel — emails through energy utilities — was frozen because our partners were focused on health and safety messaging. The biggest challenge for us was to keep generating leads. We decided to take an offensive position: We went all in on direct-to-consumer digital — including successfully launching a new channel (YouTube). I’m so proud of what the team ultimately accomplished and the path we are now on. For me as a CEO, this was a big area of personal growth: Learning to play to win instead of not to lose.”
What they do: HomeAdvisor operates a leading home services marketplace. With it, homeowners can find local service professionals, view average project costs and much more.
Company culture in one word: “Community,” Rachel Gordon, senior sales representative, said. “When I first started working at HomeAdvisor nearly four years ago, I was welcomed with open arms. Everyone is willing to help you as well as get to know you on a personal level.
“In the office every month, each sales team competes to win the ‘Alpha Cup.’ The team that makes the most sales in a month wins an outing for your team. Although HomeAdvisor New York reps are competitive with their own sales, we all strive to work together in order to win a chance to bond with the team. I am fortunate enough to be a part of a team that has won several Alpha Cups.”
Brown’s growth at HomeAdvisor: “I’ve been with HomeAdvisor a little over two years. Working in sales has dramatically improved my time management skills and could be deemed one of the most important factors in this position,” Kellie Brown, senior sales representative, said.
“Understanding how to divide my time between cold calling, appointment setting, and reaching out to my approved members has helped me achieve a higher level of production and the best overall outcome as far as metrics. Another critical point in my development has been increasing my ability to effectively communicate. This position has taught me how to adapt to any environment and adjust my sales pitch to keep the buyer connected to what I am saying.”
What they do: MayStreet is a market data platform that delivers deep insights into the global capital markets.
Company culture in one or two words: “Team spirit,” Pramod Nayak, a software engineer, said. “At MayStreet, we are eager to help each other out, whether through direct support on a project or collaborating to tackle a difficult problem. I have experienced multiple situations where my colleagues and even my manager have stayed at the office after hours to help me solve a technical problem or meet a deadline on a project I am working on.
“This type of camaraderie is to be expected from everyone at MayStreet, from our CEO Patrick to our software engineers. We are all working toward a common goal that the entire team at MayStreet believes in. We rise or fall together and we are determined to rise.”
Nayak’s growth at MayStreet: “I’ve been with MayStreet for more than four years now. The projects we are involved in are exciting yet demanding. They’ve enabled me to become more responsible for my output because, although deadlines can be tight, we must get it done and that pushes us to innovate and excel,” Nayak said. “This push to grow has created a strong culture, allowing all employees to develop their skills while learning the importance of responsibility in his or her work.
“In my position, I work with various exchanges and client firms, and have learned a great deal about the world of financial products, how things trade and the rules and regulations followed by exchanges and trading firms. MayStreet has been a successful environment for me as I enjoy working on the application of technology in finance.”
What they do: Vestwell is a digital retirement platform that makes it simple to offer and administer 401(k) plans for the benefit of advisors, employers and employees.
Company culture in one word: “Ambitious,” Zisa, a senior client success manager, said. “We’re tackling several difficult obstacles within our industry while trying to make retirement easy for the everyday participant. Our team works incredibly hard to pick apart complex topics around retirement and create digestible, user-friendly experiences to help reduce confusion for Americans to save, invest and plan for the future.”
Zisa’s growth at Vestwell: “Over the last 18 months, Vestwell has grown four times in assets under management (AUM) and five times in total plan count,” Zisa said. “Throughout this time, I have had the opportunity to work on pilot projects for our newest strategic and enterprise clients. Working with our management team on initial planning, leading pilot implementation and providing training to support various team members post-pilot have been positive learning experiences for me.
“As a result of these successful pilots, Vestwell has won new business, allowing our team to grow. In addition, as of January 2020, I earned the opportunity to manage the client success team which has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience.”