Launching a blog post series to showcase our design team talent

Introducing transparency into MongoDB’s team and culture

September 13, 2020

5 mins

Read this piece on Medium

Diving into a company’s blog is one of the best ways I learn about an organization. It offers a glimpse into who I could be potentially working with, the projects I could take ownership of, and what the culture is like. In a sense, my first impression can be formed prior to meeting anyone from the teams.

With these thoughts in mind, I conceived the idea of creating a blog post series to highlight our designers at MongoDB. I was certain it’d be a great avenue to educate candidates on who we are, what we do, and what we find important. I envisioned it as a helpful resource for both future intern cohort applicants and design role candidates as our team continues to scale.

MongoDB’s career page featuring our “Meet the Team” blog post

The main goals of the initiative were to allow readers to:

  1. Learn more about our core values on the MongoDB design team
  2. Understand the responsibilities that a design role at MongoDB entails
  3. Educate themselves on the variety of projects MongoDB designers are involved in
  4. Grab insights on what MongoDB designers have learned from prior experiences that’ve helped us in our current roles
  5. Get a better sense of personalities at MongoDB by learning what the team finds time for outside of the day-to-day job

Ultimately, we wanted readers to fully envision what it would be like to work as a designer at MongoDB. I pitched the idea to my manager and, once it was signed off, I reached out to our team for participants in the series.

On Slack, I sent out a blurb in our #design channel to recruit those wanted to be featured. To enforce fairness and diversity in participants, I had a “sign-up document” that permitted one person from each product team to be included.

Illustrations of our MongoDB design team principles

Organizing blog post responses

Once I finalized our list of designers to feature, I created a collaborative document that I asked individuals to complete. Information I asked for included:

I then had a question bank I created that I asked team members to select from. They branched from different topics such as career advice, team culture, favorite projects, difficult challenges, etc.

Below are some examples:

  1. What’s your best memory of working at MongoDB?
  2. What’s the most “fun” project you’ve been on?
  3. What’s been your favorite team activity?
  4. What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of work?
  5. What would you want someone to know coming into this role?
  6. What’s been the most challenging part of your role?
  7. What’s something you’ve worked on that you’re proud of?
  8. If your life was a movie, what would you choose as the soundtrack and why?
  9. Who do you admire in the design industry and why?
  10. What did you learn in college that helped you in your current role?

By housing everyone’s responses in a collaborative document, it made it easy for revisions and reviews. Our marketing team added helpful suggestions for edits and, subsequently, our legal team was able to approve all of the content in one-go.

I ended the article by including a link to our careers page that showcased our open positions at MongoDB.

Example of our link to careers section

Highlighting our design philosophy and process

I found it important to inform readers of the MongoDB design philosophy within our blog posts. Our five core principles are clarity, integrity, inclusiveness, consistency, and automation. I also elaborated on our process in how we work as a collective design team, explaining how we rely upon pillars of collaboration, rigor, passion, and impact.

Featuring these sections about our company shed light to readers about what our design team finds important and principles we rely on.

Illustrations of our pillars in the MongoDB design team process

Reception from candidates

One of the most fulfilling parts about working on this project was learning that some of the applications we’ve received for our open design roles have been directly correlated to our “Meet the Team” blog post series.

Example of a design intern application that references our blog post series

We’ve now collectively launched three parts to this series, all of which are featured on the front page of MongoDB’s Product Design careers page.

Find all of the posts here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 (coming soon)

Lessons and takeaways

1. There’s value in transparency.

Sharing the people, problems, projects, and processes ingrained within a culture acts as a valuable resource for those seeking to learn more about your team. Being open to shedding light on these various aspects can broaden people’s understanding of your company and gather interest in potentially contributing to the work that your designers are involved in.

2. Kickstarting an initiative is easy when you are passionate about the mission and goals.

I was excited about showcasing the people I get to work with everyday, seeing this series’ potential impact with future candidates, and highlighting our work to broader communities through this initiative—all while using my passion for writing to help highlight our team. Working across different teams to bring this project to life was incredibly rewarding, and I am very grateful to those who were just as passionate as I was about launching it to fruition.

3. Invest in your team.

As organizer of this initiative, I learned about our designers’ favorite projects, team memories, and inspirations — details I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to if it wasn’t for this series. It was wonderful getting to know more about the people I work with on a daily basis, learn what brings them joy, and share that with a broader community.

Feel free to reach out if you’re thinking of creating a blog for your own team! I’m happy to offer my help and expertise. Special thanks to Jess Katz for her incredible help in collaborating on and publishing this blog post series!

All opinions are my own, views are my own, any advice given here is my own and do not represent an official statement by my employer.