Software Development
Events / Hiring / NET/WORK

Hey, here’s a trick for landing a DevOps job at Vox Media: be a fan

Ahead of our tech jobs fair, NET/WORK, Vox Media VP of Engineering Sachin Nene talks about dev culture at the surging publishing company.

The Vox Product team at its annual hackathon in 2016, in Chicago. (Courtesy image)

The thing about a media company is that by nature it tends to be several products in one.

Why? Well, consider its customers. A media company serves an audience and clients who want to engage with that audience. Look at Vox Media, a darling among next-generation news organizations that is headquartered in Dupont Circle with offices elsewhere and a remote workforce flung across North America and beyond.

The company publishes eight brands, including news division, tech outlet The Verge and gaming site Polygon, and is perhaps as well known among its peers for its devotion to product.

And with the range of work Vox Media’s product team is involved in — site and application design, adtech and operations support, etc., etc. — the company tends to hire people with a degree of “fandom” in their spirit, said VP of Engineering Sachin Nene.

“Whether that’s with a quirky topic, an industry or just in the day-in, day-out work one does, we see people treating their jobs like true fans,” said Nene.

No doubt any product company would boast that its staff must be passionate. But there’s something different about that with consumer media; something unique about the convergence of producing journalism and building the technical capacity to display and distribute that journalism. (We at sure think about that.)

And Nene sounds like just about any VP of engineering when he talks about hiring talent — which, by the way, Vox Media will be doing Wednesday at NET/WORK, our second annual D.C. tech jobs fair.

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During job interviews “it’s more important for us to see how you think through the problem rather than arriving at the actual solution,” he said.

So what’s it like for a big media company to hire in D.C., a city still known more for political reporters than product developers?

“It’s definitely harder to find certain types of talent in the D.C. area,” Nene said, noting the broad and familiar category of DevOps and that a plurality of his engineers do work remotely, so they can find the best from many cities. “But that’s not to say that we don’t find some of our top talent right here.”

Of Vox’s 142-member product team, including engineers, IT designers and others, 40 are in the 180-person D.C. office.

Some of the Vox Media product team hangin' with a big old rock. (Courtesy photo)

Some of the Vox Media product team hangin’ with a big old rock. (Courtesy photo)

In the culture category, Nene thinks his team is best described as collaborative and fast-moving, like you might expect from a news operation. But he adds that their focus on diversity — in both background and beliefs — has led to low turnover. He talks about the “tangible results” that their tech stack offers, displaying and distributing journalism with a real business model.

“In the adtech world, we’re looking at how we create a better experience for ad audiences, how we improve the business impact for our clients and how we have a voice in the advertising space that resonates and isn’t obtrusive to our audience,” he said. “In the publishing realm, we want to make it even easier for our creators to deliver amazing content in several different mediums, whether it’s text on a traditional website, whether it’s an engaging video or podcast or whether it’s the next big advance for publishing in social media.”

Nene, who lives in Northern Virginia, represents that Vox Media fandom. On his “tedious” trek into the city each day, he listens to his own company’s podcasts, shouting out The Weeds and Recode Decode.

“I chose to come to Vox Media because I loved the work that they do,” he said. “I take a lot of pride in the small role I am able to play on a day-to-day basis to ensure we continue to produce quality content.”

Companies: Vox Media

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