Upstatement is a digital transformational studio. We design brands & products for the future of publishing, art, philanthropy, and more … What does that mean? We make cool stuff with a fresh angle.
WE CREATE SOLUTIONS🔨
The Upstatement engineering team works alongside designers and producers to architect elegant solutions to real-world problems. We prize thorough research and creative problem solving, in combination with an adherence to best practices and an eye for efficiencies. The web is constantly evolving, and our solutions architecture reflects that — we rarely do the same task the same way twice.
VALUES WE LIVE BY...📚
💡 Good Ideas Come from Everywhere
🤲🏾 Hold the Highest Standard
👁 Find the Opportunity
🔍 Interrogate the Premise
🧩 Consider Every Part of the Experience
🤎 Make Each Other Better
🦾 Own It
THE BEST SOLUTIONS COME FROM DIVERSE TEAMS🎉
Our company needs to design and create for all kinds of different users. To be successful as a business, we need to have all kinds of different people working with us. Having a diverse team means you’re going to get diverse ideas, perspectives and influences. This is the currency of great work. And it’s our great work that drives the business.
Diversity indicates the presence of a difference of identities such as race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. Diversity only applies in relation to others, and as such can only apply to a group. We believe that diversity is the surface layer — the stat, the face an organization or group puts out to the world — while equity and inclusion hold significantly more weight in terms of the lived experience, values and behaviors of a team.
LEVELING OPPORTUNITY FOR EVERYONE🌎
Equity means a fair playing field when it comes to opportunities for all. It’s an ideal we strive for, and a continuous process towards achieving. It requires proactive consideration of each individual team member. What experiences have they had? What did they miss? What might they not even be aware of? (And what are we not aware of?) It starts with having grace for each person and helping them develop the perspective or skills they need to succeed. It’s also about holding the company to a higher standard in the way our team is compensated. To pay only based upon market demand reinforces existing unfairness in the market.
It’s important because equity informs the system a company establishes for itself. A company that designs itself without this in mind can’t truly sustain a diverse or inclusive culture. We can’t rely on people thinking of “I should be equitable today.” We have to build these tools into the framework of how the company operates and does business.
IT'S MORE THAN OFFERING OPPORTUNITY, IT'S BEING INCLUSIVE 👩🏽🦱
An inclusive space is one where people with different identities feel and are welcomed, valued, and supported. We see inclusivity as diversity in action — the latter being meaningless without the former.
It’s important because these are the active steps we take every day to promote and realize the healthiest culture. We can have diverse faces, even equitable programs — but they require a culture that embraces and delivers on these ideals in ways big and small. It’s the daily interactions that comprise someone’s work life. An inclusive environment is going to get the best work from our team — because everyone is invited to bring their best.
One of our company values is “Good Ideas Come from Everywhere.” This runs counter to how many design firms operate: “Good Ideas Come from the Top.” We build our process around entire teams working together to achieve the greatest outcome: regardless of their exact job title, seniority, formal experience, gender, race, religion or other characteristic. This is a really important cultural dimension that has kept our culture strong — but it’s fragile and fleeting unless we find ways to codify it into the company’s operating system.
That’s why we’re in the midst of developing stronger formal practices to promote inclusivity in everyone’s job. It’s becoming a part of everyone’s performance reviews and a specific objective for us to improve as part of our quarterly goal setting.
CREATING ENTRY WAYS, AND OPPORTUNITY IN A SAFE SPACE💜
Thus far, we’ve ensured that we’re up-to-date with the legal and ethical compliance you would expect from a firm our size: like standardized procedures around compensation, formal policies for sexual or other types of harassment, holding DEI training and other company-wide summits.
But let’s be honest, these are the things every company should do. Our challenge this year is how can we go further? This moment has taught us that if inclusion and creation of a safe pace is a priority — it’s going to take more formal checks to ensure we’re living up to our standards. That’s why we’re looking into independent compliance services, more formal management and hiring training, and additional opportunities for team members of different backgrounds to share their experiences.
STEPS OF ACTION BY LEADERSHIP 👣
- Frequent facilitated touch points between leadership, management and employees
- Mentorship program
- Company-wide Strategy Summits
- Frequent engagement surveys to understand employee happiness
- Collaborative goal setting as the outcome of performance reviews
- Employee assistance program
- Frequent and consistent feedback loops
- By recognizing that Upstatement’s value lies in its people, not the work
- By embracing their own humility
- A generous and symmetrical parental leave plan
OUR ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORTS TO DO BETTER BY OUR INDUSTRY📌
We are actively working to ensure that the work we take on has diverse points of view, and actively pursuing business partnerships and pipelines that allow our own views to be broadened. Where we could easily fall back on a known vendor or contractor for a work engagement, we do the extra work required to expand our search and step out of our comfort zone. And we empower all Upstatement employees to do the same at all levels of the organization - be it new business opportunities, the nitty gritty of a project, recruitment, even our catering partners (back when co-location was a thing).
We’ve created a new pro bono program to help under-represented founders in our community and broaden our own horizons. In this, we’re donating our design/engineering services to help people or groups that don’t have the same networks into the tech world. We hope this gives them a leg up for their venture — and can slowly change the make-up of the industry over time.
- Competitive salaries
- Health, dental, and vision insurance
- A company-matched retirement plan
- A generous, flexible vacation policy
- Company-wide closure between Christmas & New Year’s Day
- A gorgeously-designed office in a historic building near North Station, opposite TD Garden
- Skill + personal development talks, workshops, and seminars
- A yearly professional development stipend
- Supplementary benefits like a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
INTERVIEW PROCESS 📆
Interview process length: 3-4 weeks
Step 1: Phone Screen
Length: 30 minutes
✨ The purpose of this introductory call is to answer the following questions:
- Does the candidate have the skills Upstatement is looking for in the role?
- What opportunity does Upstatement represent for the candidate?
- What opportunity do they represent for Upstatement?
- Phone screeners take notes during the call and share their assessment with hiring managers who determine who moves on to the next round.
Step 2 (for engineers): Take-Home Project
Length: Generally a week is given to complete the project, exact time required varies by candidate
Coming out of the phone screen we'll ask candidates to share representative code samples for us to assess their technical capabilities. This isn't something everyone can do; many companies prohibit distribution of employees code, and not everyone has a wealth of open source repositories on GitHub, neither of which disqualifies them from consideration.
For these scenarios we've designed a take-home coding project:
- [Engineering Candidate Take-Home Project Prompt]
- [Talking Points for Code Review]
Again we're not trying to be tricky or give you something that doesn't reflect the work you’d be doing here, and we're also mindful of the time commitment. If a candidate struggles to complete the project in a reasonable amount of time (we give them a week) we encourage them to let us know so we can talk through where they got stuck. Raw programming skills are not the only thing we look for in engineering candidates, but they are a big factor. If a candidate shows promise in other areas as well as an aptitude to learn we might recommend applying for an open Apprentice position instead.
When a candidate submits their take home project, we cut a branch and create a pull request for it on our private [code submissions github repo]. This is intended to allow us to compare across candidates to evaluate how our test is working (eg: "all five of the last people didn't get around to implementing X, are we expecting too much?"), make it easier to find candidates submissions by creating a single canonical source of truth, and include "successful" submissions as benchmarks. Additionally, having the submissions in one place allows all of us to leave comments on the code submission, as things that we want to share as being important and/or make sure are asked about during the next interview.
Step 3: First Round Interview
Length: 1 hour
- Who with?
Session lead + 2-4 employees, primarily folks from the Engineering Department
Over Zoom in these remote times, at Upstatement's offices in normal times
This is our chance to dig a bit deeper into their background, as well as paint a clearer picture of what life is like at Upstatement (including meeting more of their potential future co-workers).
Step 4: Second Round Interview
Length: 3 hours
Intro, 2-3 interview sessions, wrap-up with hiring managers
- With who?
Cross-section of producers, engineers, designers, hiring managers, leadership
Over Zoom in these remote times, at Upstatement's offices in normal times
The last stop on the interview train is divided into two main sessions:
Upstatement Work Share. A chance for us to share 1-2 of our recent projects, where we're looking for demonstrated enthusiasm for the work that we produce and what kinds of questions/engagement they might have re: our process. Can they envision themselves doing this work in a similar capacity?
Portfolio Share. This is time for the candidate to walk us through either their representative code samples or the take home test, during which we’re evaluating how they talk about their work and respond to any feedback that we might have. We also evaluate based on their past experiences to understand how they might work in collaborative settings and an agile process.
The latter session is weighted with interviewers from the engineering department so that we can get into the weeds with them. We wrap up the day with a hiring manager and Upstatement principal to answer final questions or discuss larger strategic goals.