Here’s some good news for tech job seekers: professional and business services — a category that encompasses a lot of tech-related jobs — added a total of 89,000 industry jobs in September, according to data collected in September by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To showcase some of the new opportunities that have opened up around the city, Built In Chicago rounded up 10 companies that have weathered the storm, adapted their business strategies and are looking to add new talent to their teams.
From Elevate K-12 to One North Interactive, Aptitive and more, we caught up with company leaders to learn more about their culture, growth opportunities and interesting projects they’re working on.
What they do: Full-service digital-marketing agency closerlook specializes in helping pharmaceutical brands build and maintain significant relationships with their valuable healthcare professionals.
Closerlook’s culture in one word: “Collaborative,” Creative Director Courtney Kuebler said. “Starting a new job, and working on a new team with a new client during a global pandemic, was a little daunting. Knowing who to turn to if I needed help on a certain project or with a new process also could have felt daunting. But everyone in the company was really helpful, whether it was taking extra time to guide me, teach me or point me to the best person who could help.
“There’s not a lot of big ego at closerlook, which is refreshing. It doesn’t feel competitive, like a lot of agencies, but rather really does feel like everyone wants to contribute to make the work better. We’ve had to learn how to collaborate creatively in new ways, but there’s never a time I don’t feel that I can tap into people and that those people won’t roll up their sleeves and help.”
There’s never a time I don’t feel that I can tap into people and that those people won’t roll up their sleeves and help.”
The coolest project Kuebler has worked on recently: Helping to promote a documentary that tells the stories of three people living with a rare disease.
“The team has been working on an amazing documentary that tells the stories of three people living with a rare disease,” Kuebler said. “It’s the first time this disease has been highlighted in this way, and it’s beautifully executed. I’ve been working to bring the documentary to life across different channels, and it’s helped me grow professionally in terms of learning more about the media and strategy side of things. We’ve also created an unbranded social community that connects these people who might otherwise have a hard time finding someone else living with this disease, and so it feels a bit different than most social work I’ve done in the past.
“We’re really trying to create rich content that’s helpful, meaningful and gives them a resource. We want it to feel like we’re having a conversation with them, versus at them. Keeping this very specific audience in mind when creating all of this has helped me to be more strategic, thoughtful and creative in a new way.”
What they do: Clearcover works to provide consumers with a smarter car insurance choice by offering coverage at lower prices than traditional carriers thanks to its advanced technology, elimination of wasteful spending and promotion of transparency in order to help make informed decisions.
Clearcover’s culture in one word: “Empowered,” Customer Advocacy Manager Mayra Guillotte said. “My role can definitely be challenging, but no matter how big or small of a task, I have always felt that I had the support needed to succeed. For example, I previously set a goal to revamp some of our customer experience team’s resources. I wanted to make it easier for our team members to find the necessary information when helping our customers. My manager empowered me by introducing me to different tools and strategies. Together with the CX leadership team’s help, we developed an amazing end product that our team uses daily and aids in improving our customers’ experiences.”
My role can definitely be challenging, but no matter how big or small of a task, I have always felt that I had the support needed to succeed.”
How Guillotte has grown with Clearcover: “I started as a customer advocate in 2018 and felt valued right away,” Guillotte said. “In my time at Clearcover, I have learned more about our business operations and the strategic planning involved with insurance and customer experience. In 2019, I moved into a management role and have continued to develop my skillset while helping scale our CX team. Working for Clearcover has allowed me to grow in my career, which makes me excited to start work every day.”
What they do: Education technology and social impact company Elevate K-12 works to create high-quality teaching and learning opportunities for teachers and students across the country, no matter where they are located.
Elevate K-12’s culture in one word: “Adaptable,” Allie Vincent, an educational account executive for the Louisiana and South Carolina markets, said. “This year really has been the year of uncertainties. What has remained consistent is our company’s tolerance of, and excitement for, evolution. We continue to create innovative ways to provide solutions for all types of changes and the needs of our partners that result from those changes.
“For example, Elevate K-12 services have always been tailored to solving the teacher shortage crisis. However, when COVID-19 impacted and dictated this school year, Elevate K-12 immediately added functionality to service students who opted to continue education from home,” Vincent said. “By providing live synchronous instruction to students at home, Elevate K-12 is able to continue its promise to support students no matter where they are.
“Every single person at Elevate K-12 has a growth mindset coupled with the inherent ability to successfully conquer any situation that arises. What we do at Elevate K-12 is challenging, our goals are ambitious, and we continue to tweak and adjust our processes, communication and strategies to better serve our partners. All of us finish each day better than yesterday. We are proactive more than we are reactive, and that preparedness comes from our innate ability to change and pivot quickly for the betterment of ourselves, our company and our partners.”
What has remained consistent is our company’s tolerance of, and excitement for, evolution.”
The coolest project Vincent has worked on recently: “The coolest project I have worked on recently is the preparation and planning for the 2020 Fall SCATA Conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina at the end of October,” Vincent said. “My tasks have included collaboratively working with our marketing and HR departments, including Shaily, our founder and CEO, and one of our amazing South Carolina partners, Marlboro County. This project has many components and moving parts that are critical to ensuring a successful turnout.
“This project has helped me professionally in many ways: I’ve become more organized and prepared, and more aware of the importance of building long-term relationships. But most importantly, this project has taught me how best to involve and utilize my relationships to better serve others.”
What they do: You name it, they help ship it. Logistics and sales company MoLo Solutions moves hundreds of truckloads of products across the country every day thanks to its flexible carrier network and in-house freight experts.
MoLo’s culture in one word: “When I think about the culture of MoLo, the first word that comes to mind is ‘energetic,’” Customer Operations Manager Jaclyn Kuhn said. “When you walk into the office — even if you’ve had a rough morning — you can immediately feel the positive, upbeat energy of the room, and it can turn your day around entirely.
“This spring, COVID-19 put our company into hyperdrive. We were helping grocery stores restock as quickly as we could, getting supplies to customers all over the country. Many of us found ourselves working late, and one of the ways we stayed connected was group Zoom calls that allowed us to collaborate and problem-solve around the clock. The same energy and momentum that kept us going in the office was what helped us stay connected, even though we weren’t in the same room.”
When you walk into the office — even if you’ve had a rough morning — you can immediately feel the positive, upbeat energy of the room.”
Kuhn’s growth at MoLo Solutions: “I started with the company in September 2019 as a carrier sales representative, and then made my way to the operations side of the business later that year. I’ve seen so much personal growth since coming on board at MoLo,” Kuhn said. “The biggest area of change has been in my communication style, especially since we’ve been remote. I’m training our team members over Zoom for the first time, and really learning in the moment how to make that unique challenge work and how to meet our new additions where they are.”
What they do: Amount gives its users a digital financial experience that aligns with the way they live. The technology empowers financial institutions to modernize the user experience and optimize growth — with no disruptions.
Amount’s culture in one word: “Genuine,” Judd Weeks, head of front-end development at Amount, said. “It started with my very first interaction with the company during the onsite interview. Every person in the interview room was 100 percent themselves: There was no fronting, no games. People were friendly, intelligent and passionate. They were very open about not only the challenges ahead but the current problems, such as the tech debt we had accumulated, weaknesses in the organization, etc. Despite the challenges, everyone seemed excited to be there and ready to roll up their sleeves to find a solution.
“This openness and positivity continued after I took the job. People here generally have this ‘come as you are’ accepting vibe. I feel like it is easy to know the people I work with and that I am free to let them get to know the real me.
I am proud that we created a team where people can make a big impact, regardless of their experience levels.”
How Weeks has grown with Amount: “I joined Amount just over two years ago to manage a team working on the customer application experience, back when we were still part of Avant,” Weeks said. “In the beginning, it felt more like a collection of individuals working on ad hoc projects rather than a cohesive team. Fortunately, everyone was curious, friendly and eager to try new things.
“On the team, we adopted agile methodologies, implemented story-point estimation, engaged with products to create a requirements discovery process, and were able to quickly deliver loan origination experiences for multiple top 10 U.S. bank partners. I am proud that we created a team where people can make a big impact, regardless of their experience levels. I am proud that many of the grassroots processes we developed have been widely adopted throughout the organization. I am proud of the way individuals on our team continue to grow professionally.
“Now two years later, I run four front-end teams spanning the customer and business experiences for all of our partners. I am happy to report our department continues to focus on innovation, collaboration and personal growth.”
What they do: DigitalMint provides consumers the most convenient way to buy Bitcoin with cash. Using proprietary technology, the on-demand cryptocurrency provider allows consumers to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies through physical kiosks and teller windows.
DigitalMint’s culture in one word: “If I were to choose one word to describe DigitalMint, it would be ‘purpose,’” Daniel Smith, technical operations lead at DigitalMint, said. “I think that word not only encompasses the work that we do but the feeling I have at this company. Our mission is to empower the underbanked and bring Bitcoin to the world. Every day when I come to work, I have the privilege of working on something that I personally believe in. I worked as an engineer for a consultancy in the past, and the focus was on “billable hours” and often felt soulless.
“When I speak to our customers, I really feel like I’m helping them achieve financial freedom. When I talk to our location partners (often small convenience store owners), I have the feeling that I’m helping them grow their business and customer base. Every day when I come into DigitalMint, it is a pleasure — not only because of the work environment (which is second to none) but because we have a team unified behind a single purpose.”
I have my team at DigitalMint to thank for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to grow and succeed.”
How Smith has grown at DigitalMint: “I have been at DigitalMint for over three years,” Smith said. “When I started, I was the first full-time developer hire. I was still pretty green, recently finishing grad school, and this was my first full-time job as an engineer. DigitalMint has empowered me immensely and fueled my professional growth.
“We often say at DigitalMint that you ‘have to wear many hats,’ and I feel like I have been encouraged to try new things. Even when I make mistakes, DigitalMint stands confidently behind me. Instead of just being a code monkey locked in a basement writing unit tests, I’ve gotten the opportunity to touch all parts of the business. I have progressed from being an inexperienced developer suffering from imposter syndrome to a confident manager. I have my team at DigitalMint to thank for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to grow and succeed.”
What they do: With its best-in-class, proprietary technology, cybersecurity software company Keeper Security secures and manages passwords and digital assets online.
Keeper Security’s culture in one word: “Familial,” Lauren Word, HR manager at Keeper Security, said. “While there are many adjectives that come to mind when I think of our culture here at Keeper Security, familial sticks out above the rest. We have many employees with a long tenure, which makes us feel like one big work family. I really think this speaks volumes about our culture. We’re living in an era when the average stay at any technology company is around 18 months or less. The culture that we’ve developed here is unique and special. We really go out of our way to make sure that our employees feel supported, valued and are a part of a bigger support system that extends to outside the office as well.
“Something we really excel at is keeping our family feel even while expanding our employee size exponentially in the last year. This is especially true during the pandemic, where we have gone above and beyond to maintain that family feel, while remotely onboarding our new hires. We make remote culture fun, with virtual happy hours, trivia team building events, ‘summer party’ gift baskets and virtual onboarding buddies so that everyone feels supported even while not physically in the office. Most of our team members are friends outside of the office, and that close-knit culture really translates to our team collaboration and work production for our customers.”
We really go out of our way to make sure that our employees feel supported, valued and are a part of a bigger support system.”
How Word has grown at Keeper Security: “I personally have been with Keeper Security for over 12 years and, in that time, I’ve had the opportunity to experience many different positions within the company,” Word said. I was originally hired as a sales support coordinator and have since been promoted to: customer support lead, office manager, assistant to the CFO, accounting manager, and finally, HR manager.
“One thing that we really value as a company is promoting from within and hiring smart and unconventional talent. As you can see from my own personal development path within Keeper, we really believe in giving people the opportunity to show us how they can grow into a role. We always try to promote from within and find creative fits for open roles. We care less about formal educational background and more about the willingness and desire to do and be great. Self-improvement is huge for us and if we see someone going the extra mile to learn something new, we always want to find a way to help lift them up within the organization.”
What they do: Aptitive is an IT consulting firm that provides customers with solutions focused on management, design and development of data-centric projects.
Aptitive’s culture in one word: “Connected,” Evi Hatzopoulos, a senior consultant at Aptitive, said. “Aptitive is extremely collaborative and encourages cross-team communication. We have biweekly companywide calls and multiple Slack channels that we all frequently post in, most work-related, some just for fun. A few weeks back while prepping for a client call, I asked if anyone had experience with a certain tool and got multiple responses right away of people willing to jump on the call with me.
“Additionally if someone comes across an interesting article or worked through a difficult issue they think others using a similar tech stack may encounter, it gets shared with everyone in the appropriate Slack channel. By staying connected as a company, we’re all able to learn more faster and perform better.”
I’ve been with Aptitive for just over three years and am still learning and growing as much as I did when I first started.”
Hatzopoulos’ growth at Aptitive: “I’ve been with Aptitive for just over three years and am still learning and growing as much as I did when I first started,” Hatzopoulos said. “Aptitive is a company that places great importance on professional growth and encourages each employee to explore their interests and ultimately choose where they’d like to focus their efforts. There are no limitations placed on junior developers, so if you are so inclined, you can ask to sit in on strategy meetings, sales calls, architecture design, or any other aspect of the business you’re interested in and the answer will always be, ‘YES!’
“I remember sitting in my first client meeting and being in awe of my manager. Every question she posed and answer she gave was spot on and had the client’s full attention. I was a good developer, but could not imagine commanding a room like that. Fast forward three short years, and here I am doing that same thing. But client work is only half of it.
“Internally, Aptitive has a great mentor program, three robust practices, and an ever-growing list of verticals to participate in and learn from. All have aided my professional growth, and more importantly, now offer new growth opportunities and challenges for me like starting up our transportation and logistics vertical; leading on-boarding bootcamps for our new hires; and having three mentees that (hopefully) have learned a thing or two from me. I’ve grown more than I could have imagined in my three years here and have seen the same for my peers. Aptitive truly believes in its people and offers every opportunity for success.
What they do: As one of the largest consumer companies in the country, OneMain Financial provides lending solutions to people who use their loans for debt consolidation, home improvements and much more.
OneMain’s culture in one word: Empathetic. “We apply empathy to how we foster open collaboration across teams, as well as to how we solve problems for our customers,” UX Design Leader Shardool Pandit said. “This is particularly true within the digital group (design, product, engineering) where we strive to think through the customer lens so we can better meet their needs. We also seek perspectives from our teams’ diverse backgrounds to ensure we’re designing experiences that resonate with all types of people.
“As an example: My colleague and I were asked to present the strategy and design of a highly visible feature to our CEO. As we waited for our turn, I was impressed (and really proud!) when our CEO kept insisting that the teams provide context about the problem and focus on the customer value, instead of just the business impact. This proved to me that we truly do put our customers first.”
We apply empathy to how we foster open collaboration across teams, as well as to how we solve problems for our customers.”
The coolest project Pandit has worked on recently: “A customer-informed blended-service experience” that better meets customers’ needs.
“Navigating the loan process can be intimidating for our customers, especially without any in-person guidance,” Pandit said. “We’ve provided white-glove service in branches for 100-plus years, but COVID-19 changed everything. Dealing with the effects of the pandemic sparked an idea for me: a customer-informed blended-service experience where we fuse the best parts of our physical and digital experiences to meet our customers where they are.
“Our design team worked closely with the business and engineering teams to craft a modern experience that empowers our customers. Now, they can easily compare curated loan options and other helpful products without sacrificing the personal touch or having to get in the car. Through thoughtful design, we’ve put more control into our customers’ hands, while enabling loan specialists to continue delivering top-notch service from a safe distance.”
What they do: Full-service digital agency One North helps businesses solve complex problems in creative ways. With capabilities in brand and communications, digital experience, technology and infrastructure, and optimization and insights, One North takes every challenge head-on.
One North’s culture in one word: “Exuberant,” Architect Stephanie Petrusha said. “Our fast-paced business paired with very energetic and smart people make for an exciting, lively workplace. I perform my best surrounded by high-energy people. Some of my best work has been with my colleagues, working in-person with clients, learning their needs and being able to bring their websites to life.”
Our fast-paced business paired with very energetic and smart people make for an exciting, lively workplace.”
Petrusha’s growth with One North: “I've worked for One North through a few iterations of its business, and at two different points in my career, logging just over five years collectively with the agency,” Petrusha said. “I have grown, both professionally and personally, with the connections I have formed along the way. Working closely with our clients has enabled me to build relationships and further my client services experience. After all, you magnify, manifest and energetically attract what you put out. This has definitely deemed true in my career at One North and the partnerships I have attained.”