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On Being New to Tighten

Today, you get to meet two newish members of the team at Tighten: Caleb, Developer; and Marje, Operations and Content Manager. They’ll be sharing thoughts on these things:

  • What made you apply?
  • What met your expectations?
  • What surpassed them?
  • What’s different about Tighten?

What made you apply?

Caleb: I’ve been involved in the Laravel community for 3 or 4 years now and naturally have heard of Tighten, mostly through “The Laravel Podcast” & “Full Stack Radio.” Working at a dedicated Laravel shop with leadership in the community was definitely a goal of mine, so as soon as I saw they were hiring on Twitter, I took the morning off and submitted an application!

Marje: Rather than “What” for me, it was a “Who.” My friend Jamison also works at Tighten. When we’ve talked about work, he shares stories about being able to work anywhere, on projects that test and challenge his skills, with smart, good humans. Then he shared a link to the Operations and Content Management role. It took me approximately 3 seconds to decide to apply. Working with smart, good humans is high on my list of things I want in my work life.

What met your expectations?

Caleb: They care as much as they say they do. I think that’s really what I was after, a place where you could care deeply about things and feel supported. Whether it’s discussing a minute design detail, naming a class, or making an architectural decision, hoots are always given.

Similarly, a lot of companies say things like “do it right the first time,” but in practice prefer the method with immediate payoff. In real world terms, this translates to: not writing tests, not refactoring, adding one-off conditionals for a an edge case. These shortsighted decisions add up, and before you know it, maintaining the application is a heavy burden to bear. Not at Tighten, though; writing tests are an expectation, code reviews are a mandate, and pair programming sessions are frequent. Not only are these disciplines tolerated, they are celebrated.

Marje: Well, what were my expectations? I was looking for collaborative approach, open communication, and mutual respect for experience. Going into the interview process, I wanted to gain a better understanding for the business model and approach to work. Interviewing with the team about the role felt more like a discussion of what we each brought to the table than a persuasive argument to be hired. Was this going to be mutually beneficial work? How did we interact at a human level? I’ve been working at Tighten for all of two weeks now. Clearly, we both determined that mutual benefit applied, and that the human interaction would suit. Those things matter a lot when you are working with a remote team. Social connections matter more when physical proximity is limited. As far as collaboration, communication, and mutual respect—yes. Even though I am new to Tighten, those expectations have held and been met in every interaction with my colleagues. Those are foundational elements of Tighten’s culture, reinforced and modeled by Dan and Matt.

What surpassed them?

Caleb: They bought me a sweet standing desk :) Also, they haven’t fired me yet…

Marje: First thing—given that I knew Jamison worked with smart and funny humans—I’m still surprised by exactly HOW smart and funny my colleagues are. It is both affirming and humbling to feel such a strong sense of belonging and welcome when I started. Totally surpassed my expectations. Second thing—I don’t want to bore you with details about content management tooling, but my inner content nerd is RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED to dig in, learn, and play with the backend stuff. I’ve spent this week in training and am finally at the point of being able to build things. Slightly giddy about it. Yay tools! Yay work arounds! Yay funny stuff about the web!

What’s different about Tighten?

Caleb: A phrase that came to mind when I started here was: “freedom and accountability in all the right places.” Balancing the two is a difficult, nuanced thing, and Tighten does it well. They hire good people that can handle freedom, and provide a responsible level of accountability so no one’s “guessing.”

For example, everyone says “in”, “lunch”, and “out” in slack. Nobody told me I had to, it’s just the culture. I’m free to come and go as I please, but I’m accountable for it. This is MUCH healthier than time-tracking software where Big Brother questions me for every hour and a half gap two Thursdays ago, or worse, never says anything, but talks to others.

Marje: Biggest differences from my past work experiences—working overtime is discouraged because burnout is terrible. Tighten’s culture is one that walks the talk of work and life balance. Employees who have time for sleep and interests away from work are more engaged and excited about the work they do. Everyone works remotely, but I’ve still seen everyone’s face via team conference calls. Learning is supported and encouraged. I have yet to ask a question that someone doesn’t answer quickly.

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