Hackernoon logoSeven Months of (Working at) Squarespace by@christinechanyc

Seven Months of (Working at) Squarespace

Christine Cha Hacker Noon profile picture

@christinechanycChristine Cha

Frontend eng

as a front-end engineer.

Seven months is a good amount of time. It’s enough to start forming opinions, but short enough that I’m not drowning in the Kool-Aid quite yet. So, I figure it’s the perfect time to give you a little glimpse into life at Squarespace, whether you’re a potential applicant or just plain nosy.

Before we get started, I have a few disclaimer-type items I want to clear up. First, this is going to be a very positive review. Life at Squarespace is pretty sweet, so if you’re looking for the latest gossip on dirty tech industry drama, go somewhere else. Second, I’m not some sort of weird blog-puppet that the communications team is using. I’m a real human being, and these are my personal opinions only.

Finally, for some brief context, I work on the frontend team (#frontsite), am a total cliche (art school dropout ftw 🤘🤘🤘), previously worked in art/design/marketing/community outreach, and am a proud alum of Recurse Center (the best programming community in the world).

Alright, let’s ride.

Work/Life Balance

I really appreciate that people leave. No one is expected or encouraged to work extra-long days; in fact, if you’re there for more than your normal hours, it’s highly likely at least one person will pass by your desk saying some variation of this:

You definitely see a handful of people who are still at their desks around 9PM, but usually that means they came in late. (For reference, I’m usually an 11–7er. I can’t wake up for shit.)

Benefits + HR

The people and experience teams go above and beyond to make you feel comfortable. Great health insurance, 18 weeks paid parental leave with a flexible transition period, free lunch and snacks every day, the whole nine yards. Did I mention lunch?

The best part though, I think, is the super flexible PTO. Of course you have to get it approved by your manager and not disappear forever, but on the whole, people take generous vacations multiple times a year, no one is weirdly passive aggressive if you need to take some personal time, and if you take care of your work, it’s all good.

Office

The office is beautiful. Three floors of gorgeousness with a cafeteria, bar, and rooftop. Very sad that it’s too cold now to hang out on the roof, but during the summer it was a dream. If you need bright, multi-colored decor, though, you’re out of luck — everything is perfectly grayscale, including our dry-erase markers.

Seriously, you won’t find a single non-black dry-erase marker in the office.

Community + Social Life

A lot of tech startups will talk proudly about their nostalgic-for-college, fratty, beer-and-pizza party culture. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that personally, that’s not exactly enticing. I’m always down for a beer and ping pong at the end of the work day, but people have families, partners, and healthy social lives outside of work. In the words of Kim Kardashian (uhhh wait, I think I picked the wrong person for this):

Coworkers

The application-to-hire funnel is a pretty rigorous one, and it seems that as a result, 100% of the coworkers I’ve met so far are very good at their jobs, and very, very, very smart.

Alongside that, though, everyone’s really nice. Before working here, I had some weird prejudice about Squarespace because of the branding. You know — it’s very high-fashion, luxury, kind of dark, exclusive-feeling, etc., so I kind of assumed the people would generally be stylish snobs. I was right about the first thing — people are stylish AF — but they don’t hire jerks.

Code

One of our technical challenges is the fact we’ve been around for 13 years. There’s legacy code in there that was powering websites before I was a legal adult, but we’re working on replacing as much as possible. Tech Stack: React and plain ol’ vanilla JavaScript on Java / MongoDB. More deets here.

PR (pull request) culture is important here; almost every commit gets reviewed and commented on thoroughly before it gets merged into the production branch. It’s an incredible asset for a less experienced person like me to be surrounded by so many experienced, knowledgable, and brilliant programmers. These people cause me to make this face very often:

Reading other people’s PRs, being part of group discussions like our weekly Frontend Forum, and collaborating through problems here is a pretty amazing learning experience.

Impact

Squarespace powers millions of websites. These sites represent the businesses, livelihoods, portfolios, side projects, events, and more of so, so many people around the world. Every line of code you write is directly and instantly impacting the lives of those people. Which also means that if you break something, a loooot of people are going to see it. Oops.

I personally really like the fact that it’s a product for the people, and not an enterprise product.

Diversity

Bluntly stated, we are far from where we should be when it comes to diversity, especially in engineering. Our numbers don’t even touch tech industry averages right now (which are already pretty sad).

My colleagues right now are some of the most inclusive and respectful folks I’ve ever worked with, so I optimistically believe it’s an outreach issue and not a culture one. We need to be more accessible and actively reach a more diverse pool of applicants.

I’m proud to continuously see 1) clear, concrete steps forward across departments and 2) vocal support from management but there’s still so much work to be done.

Management

Shout out here to my team lead and manager for being amaze. (#frontsite.)

We have a flat structure, so there’s very limited hierarchy. No “senior” or “junior” type titles. There are managers and leads because the actual roles change (more dealing with people and managing relationships, less coding), and, of course, seniority is reflected via compensation, but everyone is treated as equally as possible. Anthony, our CEO, sits at a desk not far from mine, and it’s not unusual for him to actually know what I’m working on and ask how it’s going.

If you’re the type of person who prefers super clear timelines, specific guidance, and explicit goals, the laissez-faire management system here might be a nightmare for you. But if you’re like me — or the fabulous Titus Andromedon —

and generally like to be left to your own devices, it’s a very welcome lack of micro-management.

Generally speaking, if you’re interested in something, you can work on it. If you need resources, they will be given to you. If you want to be left alone in your cave for a bit, it’s cool.

And that’s a wrap! I almost wish I had more criticism about this place so it would sound more authentic, but you can’t have it all.

Feel free to ask me any further questions at [email protected] — I know it helped me a lot in my job hunts to actually talk to real humans.

Obligatory apply-to-squarespace-jobs-link: http://grnh.se/7tde6m1*

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