In 2014, I left my job of 14 years – the only full-time job I had ever had – and joined NGP VAN.
It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made; one that brings me joy and satisfaction each day. As is common for us, the company is growing, and I want you to seriously consider joining me.
Here are a number of reasons why you should apply, even if you aren’t really actively looking for a job:
1. Smart, passionate people.
I know, every company claims to have these. And many do. But there’s an enthusiasm and thoughtfulness at NGP VAN that is quite rare. There’s a sense that everyone is pulling in the same direction. There’s little ego, little politics – just people who want to do their best to help their team, their department, and our company.
2. Cool technology.
We’re a mid-sized company (~200 people) that has a mentality towards tech that hits the sweet spot: Nicely between that of a nascent start-up and an established blue-chip company that’s been around for decades.
We have a well-established .NET/C# code base, but aren’t afraid to experiment with new technology when the business needs warrant it. Most recently we stood up two new apps using Azure, and as a company we have embraced CloudAMQP for the queueing glue that holds our applications together.
We’re dabbling in machine learning, use social media data to augment our tools in a variety of places, and have regular hackathons to allow people to exercise their creative technology chops.
3. Helping progressive causes.
If you’re not a progressive, you might not find this reason that compelling. And if you’re a conservative, you might find it to be actively distasteful – and that’s fine with me. But if you are progressive, and especially if you consider yourself progressive but not particularly political, hear me out.
When you’re working in tech, you’re actually likely working in two industries. The first is the tech industry, because you’re writing code, and the second is whatever actually makes your company money, which is probably not actually the code itself. I’ve been in the tech industry my whole career, but only since coming to NGP VAN have I actually been involved with a company where I care passionately about both industries.
For many people, just working at a cool tech company is enough (see above), but until you’ve worked at a place whose cause you feel passionate about, you won’t quite understand what a motivating factor it can be. When you really want your clients to succeed, it gives you that extra oomph to get out of bed in the morning. It also helps put small day-to-day disagreements in perspective.
4. We're growing.
I’ve been part of a company when it’s been growing, when it’s been static, and when it’s shrinking, and let me tell you that growth is the most fun, by far.
NGP VAN dominates the progressive political space, but we recently decided to take a leap and aggressively move into the non-profit space with EveryAction.
The reception to our products has been even better than we anticipated, and has allowed us to continue to expand the size of our organization. Since I started here 1.5 years ago, the size of the engineering organization has more than doubled. When you’re growing and pursuing new business lines, work is fun and a little scary, because there’s a lot at stake. But if you’re not a little bit scared every day, you’re probably not challenging yourself very much.
5. Your work matters.
We work in small teams, on which every person’s contribution is critical to the team’s success. And each team’s success is critical to our success as a company.
When we release a new feature, we get immediate feedback from clients. Your work will be seen and used in the real world. That may add some pressure, but honestly, I’ve worked in environments where the team’s work didn’t matter at all to the success of the company, and this is much better. Knowing that one’s work will be visible forces everyone to step up their game and makes it that much more rewarding to ship a new feature.
But your effect doesn’t stop there – we are a company that values good ideas, wherever they come from. And we know that some of the best ideas for policies and standards come from the people who live who have to work with them every day. There are countless examples of a developer suggesting a change – be it to how we practice scrum, or the tools we use for development – that they then ran with and changed the entire company’s policies for the better.
6. Progressive management.
Within the first six months of my employment at NGP VAN, we announced a very progressive, new parental leave policy. I already have two kids and am not planning on having any more, so this policy does not benefit me directly, but I was very pleased to see it put it place.
It’s not just because I want to work for a progressive company that puts its money where its mouth is and actually practices what it values – although I do. Rather, I was excited to see how our management was willing to listen to its employees and make changes when warranted. Indeed, I see us do this every day – there’s a thoughtfulness to the management that sees each employee as an individual to which we owe our dedication and thoughtfulness.
We do our best to promote internally, give people training and support, and truly want to see our employees thrive. As a manager myself, it’s inspiring to be encouraged to treat people as I want them to be treated.
7. Healthy work, life balance.
When you’re here, you’re expected to work hard. But up and down the company we realize that when you start asking people to work more than 40 hours a week, you actually make them less productive overall.
On most days, after 6pm, the office is empty – and that’s a good thing. Sure, sometimes there’s a crunch to release something, or a customer support ticket that requires extra attention – but those cases are few and far between. And we realize that if you keep those cases to a minimum, people are happy to put in extra time when asked. Even email is kept to a minimum after-hours. And if you need to work from home from time to time, that’s encouraged too.
8. We’re fun.
It’s not just the ping-pong table that we use as a conference table, but rather the sense of camaraderie that makes work enjoyable. We have a bi-annual trip where the entire company goes to a tropical island for the better part of a week. We celebrate Pi Day with actual pies. We've had an impromptu candy-eating contest, have had a team outing to go to “Escape Room,” host board game nights, and play on softball teams. And while we take our work seriously, we’re never too busy to look up some ridiculous YouTube video to identify some pop culture reference someone may have made during a meeting.
Do any of those things sound like they might appeal to you? How about all of them? Even if you’re fairly happy in your current job, if anything about this post has made you think “I wish we had that here," then drop me a line. I’d love to hear from you and hopefully work with you one day.
I can’t wait to see how you’re going to bring your talents to NGP VAN and make a great company even greater.