Every company hosts a unique work experience and culture, even within the same industry. Working at JP Morgan will not be the same as working at Credit Suisse, as similar as the hours or pay may be. In the same manner different tech companies are often grouped together: LinkedIn vs. Facebook vs. Google vs. Twitter. Oftentimes the differences between companies are hard to tell, especially for someone without firsthand experience.
One week ago I began my summer internship with LinkedIn; as per usual on a first day of work, I really had no idea what to expect. Having had experience in the consulting, non-profit, government, and the professional services industry, I had never worked at a company like LinkedIn. Despite not having extensive industry experience I have been able to distill a few critical distinguishing factors that separate LinkedIn from any other work environment I have been in. These can be best summarized in 5 key takeaways:
1. Invest In Yourself & Always Look to the Next Play
From the first moment of orientation at LinkedIn it was clear that this was a company that puts the employee first. They don't expect employees to mindlessly slave away for the company. Rather, they focus on helping employees grow as skilled professionals and providing them with challenging and engaging opportunities. The end result being: employees who are excited and energized to come into work every single day. This ties in very closely with some of LinkedIn’s core values including the “Next Play”. At LinkedIn employees are not expected to work at LinkedIn forever but rather only so long as they are getting value from being at LinkedIn. Instead of fixating on ensuring employees remain at LinkedIn the culture is to focus on helping employees be as successful as possible wherever they may go or their Next Play. In my case I was pleasantly surprised when my managers Andy and Amanda asked me what projects I wanted to work on and spent time mapping out how I could grow the most from this internship. Similarly the entire Customer Success Team and rest of the company focuses on ensuring each and every employee gets the most out their experience at the company.
2. Just Run With It
Despite the company’s recent growth, LinkedIn still boasts a highly entrepreneurial culture. This is best embodied by their willingness to let employees or even interns take on any or all projects. If there is a project you want to work on or an idea you think will improve the company, there is no “red tape”. Instead you’re encouraged to give it a try and see where it goes. This sort of mentality allows employees to feel an ownership over the work they do and to some extent the company as a whole as they form a portion of the culture itself.
3. Work Smart Not Long
Out of work by 5 pm? Not many companies can say that especially ones as successful as LinkedIn. In fact in a work culture that is growing more and more demanding it is more common to see employees at work till 7 or 8 pm on a regular night than it is for them to leave the office around 5. At LinkedIn it’s pretty rare to see anyone stay much past the 5/530 threshold. That’s not because the company does not have a high achievement culture but rather because the focus is on working smart not long. LinkedIn seems to have done away with much of the busy-work that plagues many companies especially in the intern or entry level positions and instead left employees to do high caliber work that makes an impact. Rather than focus on amount of time spent employees focus on productivity and ensuring they are able to have to accomplish meaningful goals. A game of Ping-Pong in between tasks or for a mental break isn’t taboo but rather encouraged as the company recognizes that employees need breaks to perform their best.
4. People Come First
One of the LinkedIn’s core tenants is that “Relationships Matter” a fitting mantra for a company that helps individuals around the world build relationships. Internally this mantra is even more fulfilled as supporting each other is always the priority. Most company jargon focuses on relationships but few actually embody that in the everyday experience. LinkedIn certainly does whether it is relationships with co-workers, current clients, or partners the focus is always on people. In my experience I have yet to meet a LinkedIn employee who wasn’t excited to meet a new intern or offer valuable advice or encouragement.
5. A Vision Everyone Believes In
“Creating Economic Opportunity for Every Member of The Global Workforce”, that’s well over 3 billion people. LinkedIn might be a for-profit company but not once does profit or money get mentioned when LinkedIn company goals, values, or vision is talked about. Instead what is talked about is the greater vision of presently connecting professionals with the most ideal opportunity while working towards creating opportunities for every single member of the workforce. What is truly incredible is this is what drives employees to perform their best and constantly bring new and innovative ideas to the table. This vision is often unspoken but is a constant presence in company culture from top to bottom and results in company alignment throughout. When you join LinkedIn you are surrounded by a team and workforce that believe in the product, the leadership, and the vision which is an incredible culture to be a part of.
I was recently told by a friend that my LinkedIn enthusiasm went from 100 to 2000 in a day and they are not wrong. Great lunches and views aside being a part of a company that values people, believes in itself, and is always innovating has already been an incredible experience. Although it may seem like it, the purpose of this article isn't to sell you on LinkedIn but rather to highlight the key factors that have made this experience stand out so much. I'd recommend looking at these characteristics when making your own career decisions: you want to be in an environment that supports you and truly allows you to thrive.