CHANI is a queer, feminist-led tech and media company on a mission to make astrology and its wisdom accessible to everyone as a tool for self-discovery, mindfulness, and healing. As an engineering team, we value accountability, cross-functional collaboration, direct feedback, adopting a growth mindset, and trust.
Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
Team is Diverse
Diversity and inclusion is core to our company mission.
At CHANI, we’re building an app to make astrology and its wisdom accessible to everyone as a tool for self-discovery, mindfulness, and healing. We are a queer, feminist-led tech and media company and are proud to help foster the change we want to see not just in tech, but in the greater community as well. Starting with introductions and at every step in the interview process, we always ask, “What are your pronouns?” More than half of the people on our team (11 out of 17) identify as people of color and we feel strongly about hiring veterans and people who identify as having disabilities. You’ll never have to worry about calling out of work if you have health concerns you need to prioritize. In addition to being flexible and accommodating, we also offer short- and long-term disability insurance.
We never filter out our politics when we make content. For example, we don't give planets genders when they are traditionally referred to as feminine or masculine (i.e. using she/her pronouns when referring to the moon). We are open about our beliefs, not just when it comes to our art, content, and technology, but also in terms of the benefits we have in place. For instance, our Personal and Professional Growth Stipend covers mental health services, Gender Affirmation Hormone Replacement Treatments, and grief doulas or other grief services. Milcah (they/he), our Director of Engineering, has used this stipend for massages, therapy, and attending Render(ATL), a tech conference that focuses on React, leadership, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility. We also have a Gender-Based Violence Emergency Stipend, available in emergency circumstances if either an employee or a family member of an employee experiences any incident of gender-based violence, which includes domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking.
Finally, we make sure to give back. “As a queer, nonbinary trans survivor and as someone who is super mission driven, it means a lot to me that CHANI gives 5% of all app profits directly to Black, Latinx, Native/Indigenous, Queer and/or Trans survivors of gender-based violence via FreeFrom.org,” says Milcah. “Being able to work with a team whose mission is to empower people to heal through the work of self-discovery is fully aligned with my belief that technology can help people lead more fulfilling and meaningful lives.”
Wears Many Hats
We are a collaborative team that values learning from each other.
As a small and agile team, we’re more than willing to step into adjacent roles or help support other team members as needed. Whether it’s lending a hand with design, QA, or product panning, engineers have the opportunity to touch multiple parts of the business. We take a language-agnostic approach to building software. Once developers demonstrate that they have a fundamental understanding of full stack programming, they are given a lot of flexibility to learn and seek mentorship on the job as they build the technologies that deliver our astrological content to our users.
While we want employees to feel they have ownership over their roles, we believe it’s also important to learn from our peers. For example, an iOS developer might also work on backend systems, Lambdas, and databases. In order to excel at CHANI, engineers should have a strong understanding of how the backend connects to the frontend and vice versa. As we continue to expand the team, this is especially important since we’ll be migrating our native iOS app to React Native to deliver the CHANI app to both Android and iOS users.
It’s safe to say we’re constantly learning and growing as a team in order to both improve our personal skills and back up each others’ knowledge bases. Being able to understand the larger picture helps us build the best product possible.
Our unlimited vacation policy isn’t just lip-service – we back it up with an annual stipend.
While we work hard, as a mindfulness company we practice what we preach. We know how important it is to take time to recharge, which is why we encourage employees to take at least a couple weeks of vacation every year and give them an annual stipend to help make the most of it. We also understand that life sometimes requires unexpected time off and we never want employees to work through pain. Our unlimited menstrual leave is just one example of how we double down on this. As Shawn (she/her), our Director of User Experience says, “In tech it’s easy to get caught up in the success-driven work cycles of overclocking yourself and resources. However, at CHANI, it’s understood that the quality of our work is inherently tied to our personal wellbeing. Everyone here gently holds each other accountable to better take care of ourselves. It's a challenge to pause and rest when you love your job and to work, and I really am grateful for the support of both my colleagues and supervisors encouraging me to take time off.”
When it comes to our day-to-day, we prioritize sustainability over production for production’s sake. While the company is based in Los Angeles, we have team members that span several different time zones. When it’s safe to do so, we’ll cover quarterly travel to LA as well as lodging for company retreats so we can take advantage of face-to-face time. Outside of certain meetings that are during PT hours, we trust you to get your work done in a way that suits you best. For example, Andy (he/him) lives in Nashville, so he works from his timezone on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This allows for flexibility so Andy can go to the rock climbing gym (a hobby picked up during the pandemic!) in the mornings when it’s less crowded. Rebecca (she/her), who is based in DC, is a morning person and prefers to get an earlier start to the day, while Milcah is a night owl and sometimes works later in the evening. Whether it’s cooking, gardening, hiking or spending time with friends and family, we’re excited to learn about your hobbies and interests.
We also offer great benefits and perks for employees:
Fully covered health, dental and vision insurance;
401k with a 5% match;
Gender-based violence paid and protected leave;
An annual tech stipend;
A personal and professional growth stipend; and
A stipend to help you build wealth.
Committed to Personal Growth
We share an everybody can win mindset and embrace mentorship.
The engineering team places a premium on mentorship and teaching. Prior to becoming CHANI's Director of Engineering, Milcah was an Instructor Associate at General Assembly, and he brings a lot of the skills and tools they honed and gathered as a bootcamp instructor to CHANI. Leads are encouraged to grow as mentors for junior developers. We also host Tech Talks, where contributors teach a one-hour module on a technical subject they are passionate about. Previous talks have ranged from how to effectively communicate as a technical leader to intros to Swift and Xcode.
During our Sprint Retrospectives, each contributor gives direct feedback regarding ways we can improve as a team. We also review individual commitments we've made during the previous sprint, hold ourselves accountable to whether we accomplished them or not, and then set new commitments for the next sprint. During Sprint Reviews, we encourage team members to give each other "glows" and "grows," areas in which they excelled and areas of potential growth. Similarly, we encourage contributors to give each other personalized feedback during one-on-ones.
In a workplace where you are encouraged to be your full authentic self, we understand that your experiences, interests, and skills go beyond what fills a one-page resume. The depth and breadth of who you are, and what you have to contribute as a team member, is not only celebrated – it’s actively encouraged to grow. Whether you want to take on a new project, learn a different part of the stack, remain an IC or move into people management, we recognize there are multiple ways to grow your career. One way we do this is with a dedicated annual stipend for personal and professional growth. At the end of the day, our goal is to give you the power and support to explore your skills and help you form a role that continues to explore and challenge them.
Everyone at CHANI is encouraged to share their ideas.
We love to hear ideas from employees across the company, even if it’s not directly related to their department. The engineering team often considers the needs of the content and customer support teams when designing architecture. We value our sibling departments’ requests and feedback since it helps inform our decision-making. Our success as a team and as a company is dependent on working cross-functionally. In fact, we frequently have mind mapping sessions with the whole team and it’s safe to say leadership takes employee ideas for the direction of the company and its products seriously.
As a new engineer who joins the team, you can expect to work closely with the design and content teams to make sure the end product truly reflects the CHANI name, brand, and our values. You’ll also interact regularly with the technical team as well as Fatima (she/they), our Director of Operations. Working remotely can feel isolating, but that’s definitely not the case here. Every week there are full team and small group gatherings that foster community and allow teammates to interact with each other not just as employees working on the product, but human beings who belong to one team.
As a distributed team, we rely on tools like Zoom for synchronous communication, and have daily morning and afternoon scrums. It’s also important to be able to effectively communicate asynchronously, whether via Slack, notifications on pull requests, or GitHub for version control and collaboration. Regardless of your level or role, you’re always welcome to reach out to anyone on the team for help or to gain more information.
Pairing encourages knowledge sharing and new ideas.
Many of us have different technical skillsets, so pairing helps us avoid silos and learn from one another. When a dev encounters an issue during installfest, or a bug during QA, it’s common for us to reach out to each other on Slack to request to share screens and walk through the problem together. We also regularly pair during planning phases or to design solutions together when it comes to technologies that need both backend and frontend feedback.
As we start to plan the Android build of the CHANI app and create a system to support junior engineers, we see programming and test-driven development as an important part of our engineering culture. While we understand the need for heads-down time, if you prefer to be a lone wolf coder 100% of the time, it’s probably not the best fit. In fact, pairing is so important to us that we’ve made it a large part of our interviewing process. The technical interview focuses on pair programming because we want to work with folks who are able to communicate effectively while live coding, pairing, and mentoring.
Fosters Psychological Safety
We encourage our team to fail gracefully.
In other words, it’s okay to make mistakes and fail because those missteps become pathways to growth and learnings. We never place blame on any one person and believe that sharing our errors allows us to take accountability, learn, and grow together. We trust that we’re always doing our best, which enables us to be empathetic with each other when things go wrong. This process is baked into our sprint retrospectives, where we go over what went wrong as a team and use that data to improve on the next sprint. Whenever we have a less than perfect release, we identify the root cause of the bugs or breaking changes, and we usually don't repeat the same mistakes because we've taken the time to be reflective.
Another way we make our environment a safe place to fail is by being intentional with the language we use. For instance, instead of “failures,” we talk about what could be improved as our "growths" or "growth areas."
Last but not least, leadership (including our CEO, President, and Directors) is very open around how business decisions are made. This transparency allows contributors to act with a sense of purpose and ensures they fully understand each project’s mission and why we're using a specific approach to fulfill those goals.
Bonded by Love for Product
From your first day, you’ll have a direct impact on shaping our product and technologies.
It’s an exciting time to join CHANI since we’re in the early stages of building our technology. We inherited an MVP product that was built by an agency prior to building an engineering team in-house. While a lot of the work is legacy and needs refactoring, it also means that we can create the kind of engineering culture we want from the ground-up and implement best practices. Engineers have a lot of opportunities to adopt new tech stacks, build applications from scratch, and have the freedom to design their day-to-day operations based on the technical path they're interested in, whether it's frontend, backend, cloud engineering, or DevOps.
Not only are we building something from scratch (and successfully self-funded!), but we’re also doing it with an incredible team. As Milcah puts it, “This is the most fun, diverse, and emotionally intelligent team I've ever had the joy and honor of working with, and they motivate me to do my best work daily.” If this resonates with you, don’t hesitate to reach out!