You’ve heard it before about start-up culture, employees have a chance to create processes, develop new products, and bounce across the business. The most successful people at Turbine Labs are always looking ahead at what’s around the corner, who needs a hand, and what skills they can contribute.
While each of our Blades (team members) has a designated team, you’re likely to see them across the company. Many of our Data Journalists have grown into product managers, marketers, and even employee experience executives!
We sat down with two of our Blades to share their time at Turbine. Jesse Riendeau joined Turbine Labs as an analyst in 2016. While she’s approaching her 5-year Blade-aversary, she currently bridges the product development pipeline with the Development Team and Production Team as a Product Manager.
Rob Stephenson joined in September of 2020 as one of our first fully remote hires. He is currently a Data Journalist who spends his day researching and working with our customers as an account lead.
How would you describe a day at Turbine Labs?
Jesse: I would describe a day at Turbine as high-energy, fast-paced, and incredibly exciting. Whether it is a new issue we have to tackle that day, a deliverable we have to get out the door, or simply learning a new skill – there is always something going on at Turbine and never a dull moment. The opportunity for self-development, growth, and expanding your professional network is something incredibly unique to Turbine and I am honored to work for such a killer company.
Rob: A day at TL is always different. Even with everything being the same as far as routines go, there’s always something changing, there’s always something new we’re trying, and that’s part of what gives our time here so much value. You’re always challenged but not in a way that’s overwhelming. Even if it’s a lot of work it still feels fun, you still feel supported and that’s what I value the most about Turbine Labs. Every day, when I come to work, I know that all my coworkers have my back and we’re all ready to support each other when we need help.
Jesse: We have such a small team, being able to talk to Leigh [Fatzinger, our CEO] as much as you can is also cool. In a lot of companies you never even see your CEO and I think it’s cool how the executive team is super visible and supportive.
Rob: The executive team is also very open, with a good balance. They obviously don’t share every single last detail but they share all of the things that are impactful and important. And it’s not so much that I’m overwhelmed with this information that I probably don’t need to know anyways.
What is your favorite memory from Turbine Labs?
Jesse: I don’t even know where to start. My favorite memory for Turbine is the day that Mikaila (a prior coworker) and I curated and delivered a fully Mandarin-based Segment on the electronic cigarette landscape/industry. We had to put our heads together to figure out how to translate the deliverable into Mandarin, convert search strings, and worked in a foreign third-party platform. We delivered it and it was actually kick-ass and the people who read it complimented us for an awesome translation. Writing it was just a hectic but super fun memory at Turbine.
Rob: The Halloween party was super fun. Everyone’s costumes were rad, it was the first time I went to a Turbine Labs event, you know it’s all virtual, but I thought this is good, these are good people here.
Aside from that, I love to research and write, it’s my bread and butter. It’s hard to get a job where all you get to do is dig into different topics, I’m all about work at Turbine.
Years from now, how will you explain your time at Turbine Labs to a future recruiter?
Rob: Keyword: Learning. There are so many different things that I’ve gotten to learn from this job in a short amount of time that is invaluable. Most of which I don’t think you could get from anywhere but a start-up in a lot of cases, but also this particular startup is really good about development. You’re allowed to move out of your lane and work on other things. I love having the opportunity to like, Jesse is doing, work with development, and work with marketing and learn how the sausage is made. All of those skills are valuable so you have exposure to areas that are different, other than just writing, and I still learned a lot about how to write better. What makes it a unique experience is that I’ve gotten to learn all these other aspects about business in general that I wouldn’t have gotten at a larger company.
Jesse: I will explain my time at Turbine as the most pivotal, developmental, and excitingly chaotic times in my career. Being such an early member of Turbine has provided an incredible growth opportunity and taught me skills that only working in a startup company could provide. I created outputs, while onboarding customers, while also creating a training program, and also was the product lead for our development team – all in 4 years! It just shows the breadth of skills you can earn in 4 years versus what seems like a 10-year career in most corporate worlds. I want to do that and you can pretty much do that.
What was the transition/onboarding process like for you in a remote environment?
Rob: The interview process was interesting, I’ve never done a video interview before. Onboarding was pretty rad, I actually really liked it. It was a ton of new info at once, but I learned to roll with that here just because every time I learn something new it’s like, “Here’s all this information,” and you have a couple of days to get it done. It was good to have that exposure right away so there were no surprises down the line. I knew how it was going to be at Turbine because it was 3 days of onboarding and you’ll learn how everything functions and then one by one you’ll have that knowledge reinforced as you go about your job. I thought at first it might be a little bizarre just because remote work, it was new to everyone, but I liked it. Everyone is really welcoming which also helped.
Jesse: I thought the transition was really good. You had to start being way more self-motivated and self-driving and writing to-do lists because you’re not in that structured work environment. Communication has been really helpful, like having small-group meetings with Leigh. I have daily meetings with my engineering team, we have a weekly meeting with the Production Team. So just seeing people and making sure communication is strong has been a learning curve.
What has been your biggest learning experience?
Jesse: It’s still self-growth and self-motivation because you write your own story at Turbine. If you say, “I wanna be a product manager or an account manager in a year,” you can make that happen. You just get involved with the departments, meet with the teams to check the list to get into that role. It’s extremely fast-paced so you can get somewhere new pretty quickly but it’s all up to you. If you like where you are, you can stay where you are.
Rob: I would second what you said about self-discipline, it’s definitely been a lesson. I’ve been pretty good about it most of my life, but here it’s a whole different ball game. There’s a lot more on the line and there’s expectations that need to be met so you have to make it happen without people checking in on you. I really enjoy it, but it’s definitely a learning experience. I’ve also learned how to advocate for wanting to do more. I’ve always been timid about that at jobs, like ahh well you know I don’t want to get in the way, what if they don’t think I’m not capable, but now I’m not afraid to roll the dice. The other thing I’ve learned is how to interact in a virtual environment. That’s not unique to Turbine, but it’s something that before this job I never dealt with. All of my other jobs have been in-person, customer-based work, so it has been cool to navigate and learn how to have genuine, fulfilling interactions with people between screens.