Back in the beginning of April, I joined the ranks of InfoSpace. As you would expect, I was filled with the typical excitement and anticipation of someone who is about to start working for a new company. What will I be working on? What will the team be like? What’s the culture like? And of course, how fast will my work machine be?
Having been around the block in this industry, I have to say I was really surprised when I began working at InfoSpace. It really is unique!
Let me explain by giving you a peek inside at my experience over the last two months. If you’re someone who believes software engineering is as much engineering as it is art, then you’ll be right at home here. InfoSpace places a great deal of emphasis on the craftsmanship of writing code. So much so, they have several book clubs that read and then meet to discuss chapters from the book Clean Code, by Robert C. Martin. At the meetings, the groups get together to discuss what they’ve read. They debate the relevance of the points in the chapter, or share experiences about how what they read helped them improve their craft. Along these lines, InfoSpace provides a clearly stated definition of what is means to be ‘done’ with a given task. Included in that definition are incorporating unit tests for the code check-in and having a code review. Reviewers take time to offer suggestions of ways to make the code more elegant or more efficient. To put it another way, the focus is not just on getting it done, but getting it done right, even if that means it takes a little bit longer. Ultimately, everyone at InfoSpace improves as an engineer.
As part of that improvement process, they have bi-weekly ‘Lightning Talks’. Everyone gets together for some quick presentations on a bit of technology, engineering, or new idea that is trending in the software development industry. The talks let us share with one another something we just learned, or just think is cool. They’re a great way, and a fun way, for everyone to share their knowledge, expand their horizons, and speak geek with their coworkers.
The culture at InfoSpace is lighthearted. Folks here are social and friendly. Since I’ve joined, I’ve had several people introduce themselves to me and ask me how I’m doing. And many times during those conversations, they’ve mentioned how much InfoSpace encourages a work/life balance. While everyone enjoys working hard on their projects, InfoSpace recognizes their employees have lives outside the office. We all know it’s a competitive world, but pressuring employees to work nights and weekends only grinds them down. InfoSpace focuses on a healthy balance, acknowledging that folks need a chance to recharge their batteries. In addition to everything else they do, there are social gatherings, sometimes on Friday afternoons, to help keep things light. And InfoSpace has chosen to support a softball team this summer. It’s a testament to their commitment to work/life balance that I really have no idea how many hours I work each week. I think that says a lot.
All in all, joining InfoSpace is one of the best decisions I’ve made for my career, and my happiness, in a long time. When was the last time you couldn’t wait to get to work? For me now, it’s every morning.