A Day in the Life of a Medium Employee

by Kristina Rudic | February 23, 2016

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There is an online platform whose main objective is to get people to start reading again. Actually reading. When Medium launched in 2012, the minimalist layout offered up just one font for any text published on its site in an attempt to bring the focus back to the words and less to all the extras that surround articles on a page today. When Twitter co-founder Evan Williams realized how much Twitter had changed the way people communicate on the internet, he also found that it was limiting, to 140 characters exactly. In an attempt to lengthen the conversations, he went back to his original incubator Obvious Corporation to launch a site that could change the way people communicate, yet again.

Medium’s platform is a writer’s heaven and they hope it will become their haven. The white space that presents itself when posting an article is open and inviting. While Twitter allows people to exchange words, Medium allows them to have conversations. A response to an article becomes a new post and can be just as long, if not longer, than the original post. This freedom to not just reply, but to develop and build upon thoughts and ideas is what Medium thinks has been missing from the readers’ experience online. Williams has expressed his hope that the platform will become a place where “ideas and people build off each other,” a thought that is paralleled in Twitter’s origins and traces all the way back to Williams’ first big tech project, Blogger.

But unlike these, Medium’s founder sought to create not just a different product but a different company.  Since its early days, Medium has been structured as a company run by self-organizing teams rather than a traditional management hierarchy, very similar to the theory of Holcracy. Although there are managers at Medium, the flat, open structure is intended to allow roles to be distributed evenly in order to instill autonomy within individuals. The Medium offices have classes in yoga and meditation to encourage a culture of mindfulness and to encourage teams to stay nimble and work efficiently. Each Tuesday night, employees gather for “jank and drank” sessions, where they can have a drink and work in a relaxed setting with each other, often tackling bigger projects that may have been languishing in the day-to-day. Although Medium does not subscribe to Holcracy in the traditional sense, all employees are still given freedom to speak and resolve issues without any traditional corporate constraints.

One of these employees is Joy Chen, an engineer at Medium’s headquarters in San Francisco. With a degree from MIT and two internships at Google under her belt, Joy joined the company in 2014 and has watched the company, and her love of writing, grow. Even though most of her work is based on servers, web-clients, Android, and data pipelines for user-facing stats, Chen is deeply impacted by the writing she finds on Medium, stating that her interest in “mythology, religion, and how the language we use and stories we tell influence how we model the world and make meaning out of our lives.” This is Joy’s day at Medium.

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The online platform bent on getting you to read again took the world by storm when it launched in 2012. Now, with an office in NYC and its headquarters in San Francisco, Medium is growing exponentially as readers and writers flock to the site. Among the staff behind the tech start-up is Joy Chen, who gave us a look at what it's like to work at one of the most buzzworthy companies in the US. This is Joy’s day at Medium.

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Read More: 
A Day in the Life of a BuzzFeed Employee
Why I Left a Trendy Company for a Start-Up
Is Hard Work Paying Off?

Filed Under: Workplace Issues

Tags: medium | publishing | social media | startup | tech

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