Over the past 15 years, I’ve worked with a lot of teams. Which means I’ve participated in more than my fair share of interviews.
Some were good. Some were okay. But most were pretty, dare I say, bad.
Then I met Cloud City. Their interview process was unlike any other I’ve experienced.
Here’s the thing. The tech world is small. I was born and raised in the Bay Area, so half of my friends have worked together at some point.
Before the pandemic, we’d get together for drinks after work. Our conversations typically revolved around the same topics:
The frustration of seeing credit go to the same people (or the same type of people, namely white dudes).
The lack of creative thinking in engineering. So many teams just expect their developers to take orders, not solve the underlying problems causing the issues in the first place.
The focus on “playing the game” instead of doing great work.
The “smart people in the room” management style. You throw a bunch of intelligent people together and expect them to fix sh✻t. But brains can only get you so far. You still need to communicate priorities and empower your team to actually get stuff done.
Sadly, so many of these issues are endemic to the tech industry.
During the after-work rants, my friends would sometimes say, “You should come work for us. We really need people like you!”
I used to take these comments as a compliment. But now, I realize it means their team is really bad at finding people like me.
And that’s why their engineers are so unhappy.
In one of my previous roles, I worked closely with Stephanie Geerlings, Cloud City’s co-founder and advisor.
I loved her. She had worked that Cloud City magic of figuring out the real problems our team was facing.
After several rounds of layoffs at my last company, it was finally my turn. I called Stephanie, and her immediate response was, “Oh my god. Does that mean that I can hire you?”
A lot of folks in my tech-world bubble had worked with or heard of Cloud City. When I told said friends I planned to interview with the firm, the response was often along the lines of: “They’re really good. They do things right. I could totally see why they would want you on the team.”
Which was super flattering.
The First Date
Job hunting is such a crapshoot.
During interviews, it’s so hard to get the information you need to make a smart decision. You might hear lines like, “We value work-life balance.” But they don’t tell you what that actually means.
There’s no transparency.
But Cloud City was different.
After Stephanie referred me to the team, I spoke with Kenzi, Gabriel and André.
These interviews were different from anything I had experienced. It was just … talking.
Instead of the usual coding exercise, Kenzi took one look at my resume and said, “You’ve survived multiple rounds of layoffs. Clearly, you have the technical skills.”
And then we talked about everything else that goes into being a great engineer and consultant. We discussed how to coordinate and communicate, how to identify systemic problems — and then solve them.
It was clear that the people at Cloud City weren’t just looking for warm bodies that knew how to code. They wanted smart consultants who were able to think independently and bring real value to their clients.
They also gave me all of the information I needed to ensure I was a good fit for the position. They were upfront about pay ranges. They were also able to elaborate on what they meant by “work-life balance.”
All of the great things I’d heard about Cloud City? These interviews just confirmed all of my hunches.
From the first conversation with Kenzi, I could tell that she wasn’t a typical boss. She’s someone who treats her team like actual human beings.
The Happily Ever After
I’ve been here a few weeks now, and I can tell you, all of my wildest dreams are coming true.
It’s clear Cloud City values people who are curious about bigger problems. They’re not looking for engineers who are just taking tickets like a line cook. They want people who ask smart questions to uncover the real issues.
The team as a whole is obsessed with communication, problem-solving, transparency and accountability.
If this sounds like your idea of heaven, come join me.