Why Small Is Better

I received an excellent piece of advice from a friend and current Google employee yesterday.  “Don’t try to compete with Google on perks.”

Rhiza is hiring right now.  I like to think of us as small and scrappy, but it’s been tough competing for software engineers against Pittsburgh branches of bigger companies like Google and Apple.  We don’t have the instant name recognition of the bigger players and it’s been challenging getting the word out to the computer science community that Rhiza is an excellent place to work.

Rhiza does have plenty of benefits to compete with the big players (our starting vacation package is even 33% better than Google’s), but that’s not why it’s better to work for us.  Really, our strength is in our size and where we are with our current set of technologies.

So here, in a handy list form, is the set of reasons why working Rhiza is the better than working for a big company.

1. You will write code for production

Our engineering team is small, so everyone must contribute to the finished product.  While you will almost certainly be working with our existing code base, you’ll be using your brain to create tools that will be used by real people.  It feels so good as a developer to build something that people get real use from and makes their lives easier.

2. You will do more than tweak

You will not spend all of your time tweaking pixels in CSS or testing browser compliance.  These things have their place in our development cycle, but only as finishing touches on our products.  Otherwise, you’ll be helping us to build the tools our customers need.

3. Your time will be spent on valuable things

We believe in failing fast, so you are unlikely to spend months or years on a project that gets axed at the last minute.   We build prototypes quickly, test them thoroughly, and then rethink or discard things that aren’t working.

4. You will get to have company-level ideas

We had a meeting a few months ago about what new products Rhiza should focus on and everyone in the company was invited to give input.  Every single employee gave at least one idea and contributed at least one metric for measuring ideas.  Everyone gave input on where we would like to see Rhiza head next, and everyone was listened to.

5. You will be able to grow

Since we are small and growing there are many opportunities to take on new responsibilities.  For instance, I am now working on recruiting new people in addition to my usual engineering of software.  If you’re interested in aspects of business outside of coding, then this is a good opportunity to get on the job experience.

As for engineers who just want to code, we stay out of their way.

6. Our policies are consistent

Some companies have policies that sound awesome, but may not be a reality depending on your manager.  Because we are small everyone gets to use our benefits.  What’s the use of having four weeks of vacation a year if your manager won’t let you use them?

7. “Family Friendly” and “Flex Time” are real things at Rhiza

Today I left work at 2pm to retrieve my sick daughter from daycare, and now that she is asleep I am writing my first draft of this post and continuing my workday.  She spent the first six months of her life at Rhiza as part of our babies at work policy.   I worked while she napped and played, sometimes finishing my tasks at night or in the early morning.  We managed to get extra bonding time in while I continued to contribute at my job.

None of this would work if my coworkers complained or gave me the stink eye each time I used these policies.  Instead, they use them, too.  Even employees without kids use their flex time to wait for the alarm company, take a cat to the vet, or deal with car repairs.  The system works because everyone uses it.

8. It’s better to get in on the ground floor

Rhiza is going places.  Rather than working for a company that is already established, you’ll have a chance to join us early on our journey and travel with us.  It’s a chance to be a part of the next big thing while it’s still a small thing.