How I Landed a Job That Doesn’t Feel Like Work
Our mission here at The Muse is simple: to help you find your dream job. So, there’s nothing we love more than hearing about it when you do!
Today we chatted with Hark Verbicar, who recently landed a job as a software engineer at VideoBlocks. He’s had experience at large companies, small companies, and everything in between, and now he is grateful to have finally found a job that doesn’t feel like, well, a job. Now, he looks forward to going to work every day and expanding his software skill set in his new role.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m a computer engineering alum from the University of Maryland. (Go Terps!) As a total foodie, I love making homemade ice cream that you can’t typically acquire at your local supermarket (some of my most popular flavors include red velvet cupcake, goat cheese with roasted berries, pumpkin ale, and my infamous candied bacon). I love hosting murder mystery dinner parties and organizing city-wide scavenger hunt events (think The Amazing Race, but within a normal person’s budget). I’m also very active on my YouTube channel, and I may happen to have a shameless obsession with Harry Potter and Pokémon.
What were you looking for in a job?
I wasn’t looking for a job necessarily; I was looking for a lifestyle. I’ve had experience working at large companies and small companies, the government and the private sector, startups and long-established businesses, but to me, the most ideal achievement you can have in your career is finding a job that doesn’t feel like one. Finding work that you’re not only excited about, but passionate about, too. A place that you look forward to coming into each morning, with people who treat you like family. A culture you feel comfortable in as if you were in your own home and that energizes you (as opposed to drains you) throughout the day.
It may sound like fantasy to some, but it’s a reality that everyone should strive for. I believe I found that lifestyle—not just a job—at VideoBlocks.
I was excited to have the opportunity to grow my software development skill set by working on web application development projects, the product—a subscription based web service that provides affordable creative content (stock videos, audios, and images)—appealed to my artistic side, and the culture seemed like just the right balance of striving for ambitious goals while remaining laid back.
What’s a typical day like as a software engineer?
Basically, my role involves maintaining the code base of our three main websites: VideoBlocks, AudioBlocks, and GraphicStock. We add new features while also making improvements on existing ones in order to enhance the experience our customers have using our products, and we design solutions to make our websites more enjoyable and easier to use.
What’s something most people would find surprising about working at VideoBlocks?
The work environment at VideoBlocks is one of the best I’ve ever experienced. It isn’t unusual for this (dog-friendly) office to have various canine “mascots” wander around every now and then. Even the friendliest of co-workers (of which we have no shortage of) can turn on the “smack talk” during breaks playing ping-pong in the recreation room. We have meditation sessions every week and a vacation policy that lets employees take whatever PTO they need, as long as they don’t abuse the system and it doesn’t interfere with their responsibilities. I could go on and on.
Another cool thing is VideoBux, a special currency unique to VideoBlocks that we can award to each other in appreciation for help and accomplishments. The VideoBux can then be exchanged for gift cards, services from other co-workers (like a batch of Bill’s famous guacamole), and other fun prizes (like colleagues calling you “captain” for a day).
Learn More About Working at VideoBlocks
What’s your favorite part so far about working at VideoBlocks?
The people are definitely the best part. My fellow “Blockheads” (which is how we refer to each other) are what make VideoBlocks as special as it is. I wanted co-workers I admired who were smarter than me, yet didn’t treat me as such. As one of VideoBlocks’ core values states: “We hire people who deserve to have egos—but don’t.”
What’s the coolest project you’ve worked on?
I really like Innovation Day, a new annual internal event that’s aimed at improving the company culture, environment, or business. Similar to a hackathon, everyone breaks up into separate teams to work on a project they’re passionate about for 24 hours. Most projects even become fully assimilated into VideoBlocks’ day to day. Projects range from creating cool new features for our product, taking photos of the employees for the website (both professional and goofy), innovative marketing materials (such as the “Charles in Charge” promotional video starring several of our employees), painting a beautiful new mural in the office, or even crafting a VideoBlocks beer brew!
I created and lead a project on Onboarding Gamification to make the onboarding process a more fun and engaging experience with things like a scavenger hunt through our websites to give new employees instant exposure to our product, a Pokemon-style “Gotta Catch ’Em All” mini-game to encourage new hires to meet their colleagues and their departments, and Lingo-Bingo, where you fill out a bingo card each time you hear our company-specific VideoBlocks buzzwords.
What advice would you have for someone who wants a job (er, lifestyle) like yours?
Try your hardest to define what exactly you’re looking for. Very often I find myself asking my friends who are not completely happy with their current job what they ultimately want in their career, and many of them say they have no idea. Don’t be one of those people! Do research, find out where you want to go, and form a plan with digestible steps that can help move you toward your goals.
Treat each interview process as a learning opportunity, especially the ones that don’t result in an offer. Many of the things that helped me through the VideoBlocks application process were learned from previous interviews with other companies.
Above all, show in your application and interview that you would be a great person to work with. You can be the most intelligent and skilled member of your field, but if people aren’t happy working with you, you’ll never find yourself in the ideal job environment. Finding happiness in the workplace starts with yourself, and (hopefully) transfers outward to those around you.
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