Engineering at Upstatement

Upstatement is a digital product studio. Design-led and engineer-driven, our team takes a digital-first approach to brand, makes world-class websites, and creates human-centered products.

Job Openings at Upstatement

Top Engineering Values

Each team is asked to select, explain, and rank their top 8 values in order of importance.
  • Creative + Innovative

    Creativity is not just reserved for designers at Upstatement.

    Engineering is an inherently creative discipline and our knowledge of technology informs how projects take shape. That’s why it’s so important that engineers at Upstatement are involved starting at the earliest project phases. Engineers don’t just await orders from designers; we’re actively brainstorming alongside them, pointing out opportunities and risks, and proposing creative solutions. For any given project you might find yourself leading an interview with a technology stakeholder, facilitating an architecture activity during a workshop, or persuading a client why a particular tech stack meets their needs during a creative brief share.

  • Open Communication

    We believe in sharing information.

    We strive for our employees to feel empowered to share any idea big or small, regardless of whether they’re an apprentice who’s been here for a month or an engineer like Emma, who’s been with us for over six years. What does this look like, you ask? We host weekly Friday Shares where staff are encouraged to take the mic and talk about what they’ve been working on or learning. For example, our Technology Director, Mike Burns, recently hosted a talk called “Failure is Always an Option,” and one of our Lead Engineers (and comic book creator) is hosting another titled “Not Just Another George Lucas.” From 1:1 relationships, to project teams, to the collective studio, we’re big on sharing openly and often so we can learn from each other (the good, the tricky, and everything in between).


    Every engineer’s career goals are taken into consideration from day one. Bi-weekly 1:1 conversations with their managers and bi-annual reviews are baked into our processes. We also hold monthly engineering meetings where the internal processes and department goals are constantly re-evaluated. Although we have multiple teams working on different client projects, all of our communication is done within public Slack channels, so anyone can jump in and see the process.


    Open communication is particularly important as we (and the rest of the world) have pivoted to remote work. While it's tempting to schedule a lot of meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page, we've worked hard to balance the need to feel connected with the burnout associated with a week full of Zoom meetings. We lean heavily on tooling – Figma for collaborating on design and presentations, GitHub for code, Dropbox Paper, and Google Docs for documentation, and Trello and Jira for project management. Being disciplined in using these tools to plan and execute our work asynchronously has helped us reserve calendars for the truly impactful synchronous activities (like our monthly Trivia Nights!).

  • Work/Life Balance

    Fridays are reserved for personal development.

    Engineers typically work 8-hour days. There’s no expectation of an on-call schedule and we never ask you to work on weekends or holidays. We don't manage hosting ourselves, and set the expectation with our clients that we will respond to code issues during business hours. That said, teams manage their own schedules and deliverables, so of course, it’s possible that during particularly busy weeks this can lead to spillover and some people might work outside of typical hours to have time for deep work. However, these overages are almost always self-inflicted, and if we notice it becoming a trend for anyone, we have direct conversations to make sure they know it should be a very rare occurrence. This comes from the top, from people that have worked in environments where burnout is the norm, and with full knowledge that dedicating 24/7 to anything is damaging not only to your mental well-being but also to your creative output and quality.


    What’s more, we reserve Fridays for personal development, with the goal of building new skills and improving Upstatement as a whole. For example, a recent “semester” of Upstatement Fridays involved 10 projects with team sizes ranging from 3-6 people. Project types included marketing/publicity, product, and self-care. We've used this time to make improvements to upstatement.com, to explore new topics like Machine Learning, to create and improve internal tools and processes, and as outreach for our Friday speaker series.


    We also allow for an "Independent Study," which is a lot more free form. For instance, one engineer chose to focus on writing blog posts. This personal development time is communicated upfront with our client teams from day one, so everyone is respectful of these boundaries.


    Finally, we also close between Christmas and New Year’s Day to give everyone that extra time to recharge!

  • Heavily Team Oriented

    At Upstatement, engineers work as part of small multi-disciplinary teams.

    Designers, PMs, and engineers work together closely for the entire duration of a project, from strategy presentations through to final browser bug fixing. Our teams (usually around 4-6 people) kick off each day with a 15-minute standup and check in frequently via Slack, Trello, and GitHub. We also keep up lightweight communication via Slack with clients – engineers are client-facing, so you won’t be playing telephone with account managers.


    Each project team functions autonomously. This means that technology decisions don’t come from the top down, but rather they’re made at the project level by the engineers who will actually be accountable for delivering the work. Our process is malleable and can change depending on what works best for the team. Projects typically last 3-6 months, and primary design/engineering team members are fully allocated for the duration of the project. Directors and managers meet every week to discuss scheduling, and do their best to ensure that team assignments are compatible with personal interests and growth goals.


    Many of our engineers are also fans of pair and mob programming, making it easy for people new to a technology stack to get on-boarded. That said, we definitely support individual contributors, too. Our skills and performance matrices allow for growth on both maker and manager paths. For IC roles (Engineer, Lead Engineer), people are more or less 100% focused on one project at a time, which leaves a lot of room for solo work on any given day. It’s also worth noting, we’re a fairly introverted group (especially engineers). “It surprised me when I first joined because it was the quietest open office I had ever encountered!,” says Mike.


    At the end of the day, we don’t hide people from clients, and while everyone doesn't have to lead every client conversation, a certain amount of comfort with this sort of service relationship is important.

  • Committed to Personal Growth

    We have a variety of programs dedicated to supporting learning.

    Every employee gets a $1500 annual budget to use toward professional development – be it workshops, conferences, online courses, or books. We’ve had engineers use their Pro Dev budgets to attend JAMstack Conference and React Rally, take an Intro to Data Science with R Course, or just read up on best practices for Clean Code and Deep Work.


    Two of our own key values are at the core of Upstatement’s Mentorship Program: make each other better and hold the highest standard. The program was created to introduce space and time for meaningful “Upsbud” relationships (especially in remote times), as well as informal collaboration and learning.


    The Upstatement Speaker Series consists of Friday Talks that happen roughly once a month. Friday Talks inspire us, help us learn, and allow us to build connections with other communities of creative and technical thinkers. Also, they’re wicked fun! You can check out some of our past speakers on our Events page.


    On Fridays when we aren’t hosting an outside speaker, we host internal Friday Shares. The topics change, but can include:

    • Design shares
    • Engineering shares
    • Process shares
    • Project shares (of in-progress or recently completed work)
    • “Town Halls” on special studio topics
  • Actively Practices Inclusion

    One of our company values is "Good Ideas Come From Everywhere."

    This runs counter to how many design firms operate and the belief that “Good Ideas Come From the Top.” Instead, we deliberately build our process around entire teams working together to achieve the greatest outcome – regardless of exact job title, seniority, formal experience, gender, race, religion, or other characteristic. This is a really important cultural dimension that has kept our culture strong – but it’s fragile and fleeting unless we find ways to codify it into the company’s operating system.


    That’s why we’re in the midst of developing stronger formal practices to promote inclusivity in everyone’s job. It’s becoming a part of performance reviews and a specific objective for us to improve as part of our quarterly goal setting.


    Thus far, we’ve ensured that we’re up-to-date with the legal and ethical compliance you would expect from a firm our size, including standardized procedures around compensation, formal policies for sexual or other types of harassment, and holding DEI training and other company-wide summits. But let’s be honest, these are things every company should do. Our challenge this year (and every year) is how can we go further? The past year taught us that if inclusion and creation of a safe pace is a priority, it’s going to take more formal checks to ensure we’re living up to our standards. That’s why we’re working with groups like Canopy to hold more formal staff management and hiring training, and provide additional opportunities for team members of different backgrounds to share their experiences.


    In terms of our day-to-day work, we’re actively pursuing projects that have diverse points of view, as well as business partnerships and pipelines that allow our own views to be broadened. While we could easily fall back on a known vendor or contractor for a work engagement, instead we do the extra work required to expand our search and step out of our comfort zone. We empower all Upstatement employees to do the same at all levels of the organization – be it new business opportunities, the nitty gritty of a project, recruitment, or even choosing our catering partners (back when co-location was a thing).


    Lastly (phew), we’ve created a new pro bono program to help under-represented founders in our community and broaden our own horizons. We’re donating our design/engineering services to help people or groups that don’t have the same networks or opportunities in the tech world. We hope this gives them a leg up for their venture and can meaningfully change the make-up of the industry over time.

  • Has Internship Program

    We’ve hired 5 full-time employees from our Apprentice program.

    Our Apprentice program is designed for entry-level engineers as a stepping stone on the path toward becoming better engineers for their next role. Apprentices gain valuable experience in the world of digital consulting, paired with a mastery of team communication and charged-up engineering skills. Each apprentice is a fully-contributing member of our engineering team, working alongside mentors to learn new stuff in the context of real world work.


    The apprenticeship experience strikes a unique balance between hands-on learning with a variety of popular web technologies, and working to solve IRL engineering challenges on meaningful client projects. An apprentice won’t just be writing code, but also communicating and collaborating with their team and clients to deliver quality work.


    Upstatement apprenticeships are usually a 4-6 month, full-time commitment, and we generally have 1-2 engineering and 1-2 design apprentices at a time. So far we’ve had five become full-time employees!


    Check out some projects that our former apprentices have contributed to:

  • Continuous Delivery

    We believe the best way for clients to see the value of our work is to put it in front of them.

    Part of our first sprint on every project is to push an MVP version of their product. We do this through multiple avenues, whether it’s using Netlify Deploy, GitHub Actions, or TravisCI. Our chosen method of delivery depends on the client team and their product, but we believe it’s the most important step for getting the feedback we need and streamlining our development process.

Values

  • Creative + Innovative
  • Open Communication
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Heavily Team Oriented
  • Committed to Personal Growth
  • Actively Practices Inclusion
  • Has Internship Program
  • Continuous Delivery

Company Properties

  • B2B
  • Self-Funded
  • Technical Founder(s)
  • Remote-OK

Team Members

  • 2 Business and People Operations
  • 20 Designers
  • 12 Engineers
  • 5 Principals
  • 1 Product Manager
  • 2 Project Managers

Vacation Policy

3 weeks vacation + company-wide closure between Christmas & New Year’s Day

Tech Stack

We’re tech agnostic and firmly believe that focusing exclusively on one technology is both a business risk and impediment to growth. No two clients or projects are the same, and no one technology can solve all problems effectively. Learning multiple frameworks and languages makes us more well-rounded engineers, and gives us a broader knowledge base to draw from when architecting solutions.

Some of the technologies we’ve worked with include:

- Frameworks such as React, Vue, React Native, Node.js, and Timber

- Content management systems like WordPress, Craft, and Contentful

Interview Process

Phone screen, take-home project (for engineering candidates), first round interview (1 hour), second round interview (2-3 hours). Candidates are evaluated on solution architecture, code quality, creativity, and pragmatism.