Tech workers have a reputation for hopping from company to company as soon as a new opportunity presents itself. In reality, that’s not always the case. We spoke with five Chicago tech workers who decided to put down roots with their companies and build careers. In an era of job hopping, here’s why they are staying put.
SpotOn provides payment, marketing and loyalty solutions to small and midsize businesses. Front-end Developer Nick Kang joined the company two years ago. What he loves most about SpotOn is its collaborative culture and the office’s large collection of comedians.
With SpotOn since: 2016
What made you want to join SpotOn?
I had just ended a contract job where I discovered my passion and aptitude for building out the presentation layer of web applications, and I came across an opening at SpotOn that matched exactly what I was looking for. During the interview process, I saw how intelligent, collaborative and friendly the developers were and how ambitious and down-to-earth the CEO was. The friendly people and the opportunity for growth, both for me professionally and for the company, gave me the strong sense that I would really enjoy going to work every day.
Jump at any opening that comes up that matches your skill set. This is the best job I’ve ever had.”
What makes SpotOn a good place to build a career?
Team members take the time to hear and help each other out, which creates a culture of collaboration, collectivism and camaraderie. There’s a ton of opportunity to grow, too. Developers and designers are always willing to mentor others. I’ve seen a developer go from quality assurance to full stack. Also, we have some of the funniest people I’ve ever met, which makes the office a really fun place to be.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career at SpotOn?
Jump at any opening that comes up that matches your skill set. This is the best job I’ve ever had.
CCC develops technology solutions for companies working in the automotive industry, including insurance carriers, manufacturers, collision repair shops and parts suppliers. R&D Manager and Lead Data Scientist Neda Hantehzadeh said one of the reasons she decided to build her career at the company was the collaboration between product managers and data science leaders.
With CCC since: 2015
What made you want to join CCC?
I was very interested in building artificial intelligence solutions prior to joining CCC. As a data scientist, I was looking for high-impact projects and ideas, the availability of data to build smart solutions, and the flexibility to use different infrastructures. Additionally, there was an existing team of senior data scientists who had already developed projects. The combination of all of this, plus the chance to learn from what CCC had already created, convinced me that joining CCC was the right move.
CCC embraces diversity of thought and uses that as a launchpad to stay ahead of the competition.”
What makes CCC a good place to build a career?
CCC encourages teamwork, collaboration and ingenuity. CCC is a place where lead data scientists can design and convey strategies for others. CCC embraces diversity of thought and uses that as a launchpad to stay ahead of the competition. This, along with great brainstorming sessions among data scientist leaders and product managers, brings tremendous clarity on product growth and success.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career at CCC?
CCC has a great reputation in its industry. I would be proud to work for a company with such a long history of leadership in its field. There are unlimited opportunities, ranging from telematics to building AI models and different software solutions.
Direct Commerce Group is a digital agency that helps companies grow their e-commerce presences while protecting and managing their brands. When Customer Care Lead RJ Weinstein joined DCG two years ago, he was searching for a better work-life balance. In addition to finding that, he was given the opportunity to run his own department.
With DCG since: 2015
What made you want to join DCG?
I was looking for a place that was flexible and provided a better work-life balance. I wanted a home, a fit — something more than the corporate jobs I had in the past. I was through with working for companies that wanted me to be a body, since I am an investment in a more productive tomorrow. As a high-energy individual, I was interested in a workplace that would fuel my need to be a contributor and provide me with the framework and tools needed. My aim was to find a company that appreciated my quirks, wanted more of them and specifically needed me.
I was through with working for companies that wanted me to be a body, since I am an investment in a more productive tomorrow.”
What makes DCG a good place to build a career?
Any career that lets me run down the hallways and imprint my brand of enthusiasm on my coworkers and customers makes me feel like I have a real hand in the company. This company has been around for a while, but since I’ve been here, there’s been explosive growth and creativity. A company that is redefining itself and creating a new identity is a place I’d like to be a part of.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career at Direct Commerce Group?
Play hard, work harder. The day-to-day at Direct Commerce Group has a casual breeziness, which I love, and the people here are brilliant. All of us together, honing in on better processes will make us a leader in the very wild and crazy e-commerce world. In order to excel here, you need to consistently contribute your ideas, be okay with uncertainty and have a great appreciation for in-office dogs and summer barbecues.
The Nerdery is a digital consultancy that creates products and services for companies like Valspar, Google and Hy-Vee. Principal Software Engineer Ted Flynn was initially attracted to the company by an advertisement promoting its charitable work. Six years into his career at The Nerdery, Flynn’s advice to those considering a role at the company is simple: Be prepared to learn.
With The Nerdery since: 2012
What made you want to join The Nerdery?
I saw a targeted ad for The Nerdery’s Overnight Website Challenge, a community-focused event where the company facilitates the donation of development, project management, UX and other services to multiple nonprofit organizations over a 24-hour period. The fact that the company was putting localized charitable giving in the foreground of their advertising efforts — rather than a bunch of buzzwords or calls for overly caffeinated ninja rockstars — made me interested in learning more about the company.
Be prepared to do work that exceeds the scope of any given framework or predefined technology stack you may have learned.”
What makes The Nerdery a good place to build a career?
Prior to applying at The Nerdery, I had mostly been doing freelance and agency work. In both experiences, there was a prevailing sense of isolation and a sense that no one really cared about developers or the quality of the code being written. The Nerdery provides a positive contrast to that experience. It seemed like an actual community of developers at a place devoted very specifically to solving problems with technology in a strategic and principled way.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career at The Nerdery?
Be prepared to learn. Be prepared to do work that exceeds the scope of any given framework or predefined technology stack you may have learned. That probably sounds daunting, but most of the discomfort of learning new things or stretching your skill set is helped by the fact that there is a large community of people willing to help you grow. The experience you gain will, over time, help you become the kind of developer who can evaluate multiple solutions to a problem and select the optimal one, rather than just the most familiar one.
Signal’s digital advertising technology is used by brands to deliver more relevant messages and enhance the customer experience across multiple devices and channels. Software Developer Jenny Kinahan joined the company in 2012, originally as a post-graduate apprentice. Kinahan said she’s stayed at Signal in large part because she’s been able to direct her own career growth.
With Signal since: 2012
What made you want to join Signal?
When I was graduating from the University of Illinois at Chicago, I spoke with my advisor, who introduced me to Signal. I actually didn’t know anything about adtech or tags at all, but what really struck me were the people I spoke with. I fell in love with everybody out of the gate. Once I got hired, I was like, “This is like family.”
We’re given the opportunity to essentially move around the company, and that's another thing I really like.”
What makes Signal a good place to build a career?
The thing that strikes me as unique — and one of my favorite things about this place — is that the people you interact with are pretty ego-less. It’s really easy to ask questions and gain a lot of information from a lot of people. Also, teaching and learning are highly valued. Everybody’s so warm. I really enjoy everybody’s company, and a lot of people here are not just people you’re at work with, but people you can hang out with outside of work.
What advice would you give to some considering a career at Signal?
From a developer perspective, understand the fundamentals and always be ready and driven to learn, because we’re always using different technologies. We’re given the opportunity to essentially move around the company, and that’s another thing I really like. It keeps the work fresh, and it keeps everything interesting and allows for a lot of knowledge transfer across teams.