Fair’s Work Culture Lives Up to Its Name
If you've ever bought a car, you know how stressful the experience can be – not least of all because of the fear that you'll be ripped off by a salesperson.
Automotive fintech company Fair is striving to put an end to all of that by allowing you to shop, get approved, and pay for your next car – all on your phone.
But Fair aims to do more than just bring fairness to the car-buying experience: they want to treat their employees fairly as well. Actually, more than fairly.
In their words: "The way we see it, better to be more than fair than not to live up to our name."
We sat down with software engineer Layla Habahbeh to learn more about Fair's more-than-fair work culture and open roles.
Layla is a software engineer with a non-traditional background. A tech activist who wants to use her skills to help remedy social issues, she's found room to do so at Fair.
Read on to learn about her path into tech and her experience at Fair – from lunches by the Santa Monica Pier to evenings bowling with her colleagues. And be sure to check out Fair's open roles here.
What do you do at Fair?
I'm a backend software engineer. I'm part of a pretty big team of engineers that are rapidly building the infrastructure because the business is expanding so aggressively. Right now I'm focusing on streamlining some of the accounts logic for a couple million user accounts.
Where are you based? And how does that affect your workflow?
Our office is by the beach in Santa Monica, California – actually only a block away from the pier. It's nice to be so close to the water to be able to unplug and get some fresh air on my breaks.
What makes you proud to work at Fair?
Fair is a really exciting place to work and I absolutely love our product. Working here means working on something that people will look back on and say "how was this not already a thing?" – so that's cool to me.
I often think of how difficult it was to get around before Uber was around. - I would go out for drinks and wouldn't have a reliable way to get home.
Fair is changing how people think about getting a car. Most people don't like going to the dealership, and they prefer an easier way of getting a car without all the hassle – without having to go into debt or doing a bunch of research and not knowing whether you're getting a good deal or not. This option has really revolutionized the way people live their lives.
Specifically for my job, I'm passionate about learning new things and building innovative products, so focusing on that and collaborating with my team are the best parts of my day.
Fair has some of the smartest people I've ever met in the industry, and some of them have become my lifelong friends and mentors. That's what makes me excited about coming to work everyday: working with them and building something that will make a difference in people's lives.
How does it feel to have other women engineers on the team?
It's great to have other women on my team. It means there's a better chance that my voice will be heard, my ideas will be noticed, and it means I have more allies. So it really makes a difference for me day to day. I'm glad I've found that support at Fair. I love the idea of taking people from diverse backgrounds and experiences and bringing them together. That's the best way to have a team that can change things.
Why did you decide to become an engineer?
For as long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to do something where I was helping and impacting people. I decided to get a degree in Psychology, followed by a Masters in Human Development. The goal was to help improve people's quality of life. I did that for many years and had a realization that technology could be used as a catalyst to help reach a wider audience.
I was always interested in tech – I was even in the robotics club in high school. It wasn't until I was out in the world and working that I got the spark! So I went back to school for a Masters in Computer Science and just loved it!
Engineering is an amazing creative outlet and that's something I was really surprised by! I enjoy dreaming up an idea, taking a concept from ideation to reality, and coming up with elegant solutions to solve problems along the way.
What do you recommend people look for when they're applying to software engineering roles?
One thing to look for is the company's size. Typically the smaller it is, the more of an opportunity you'll have to make a bigger impact and have ownership over things you're working on. When you work for a bigger company, you have more resources in terms of mentorship and knowledge as well as lifestyle perks; some companies offer gym memberships and lunch catering, for example.
Even though my title has been the same, my role as a Software Engineer has been vastly different from company to company. I've worked at some places where I was able to pitch an idea and say "hey, this thing is broken, we can make it better by doing this", and then getting the approval to make it and getting to architect the whole thing, test it myself, and send it out to production.
At other places, the majority of my time was spent handling pre-written tickets that someone else higher up on the totem would spell out for me. In that case, I was a very small piece of a much larger puzzle.
What do you look for when you're interviewing at a company?
The number one thing I look for now is how diverse that team is – as well as the organization. Are there women in senior and executive level positions? Because a lot of companies will say they care about diversity, but if you look at the makeup of the organization, you'll see that isn't the reality.
An interview is a two-way thing. So try to figure out what an organization's like and if it's a good fit for where you are right now in your life.
I know you care about using tech to address social issues. What's something that you would love to build?
I'd love to do something to tackle resource allocation. So many problems in this world are because we have all the resources available, but they're just not as distributed as optimally as they could or should be, so some people go hungry or others can't get a decent education just because they don't have access to those resources. Technology is such a powerful tool that can help solve that problem.
Since you like to build things, what's one of the coolest things you've built in your career?
I built an Alphabet Wall inspired by the Netflix Series, Stranger Things.
I wanted to recreate the Christmas lights scene from Stranger Things where Winona Ryder received communication from the Upside Down through lights that she strung up on her living room wall, alongside the alphabet that she painted. I recruited a team of four friends and with the help of a Raspberry Pi, individually addressable LED lights, Twilio API, & the Neopixels library, users were able to text the "Demogorgon" a message, and it would display it letter by letter on the alphabet wall.
Ok, back to business. What does your day-to-day look like at Fair? How do you maintain balance?
Fair makes it pretty easy to find balance. Honestly, it's the first company I've worked for that makes sure you're super comfortable so that you can focus on your job.
There's a fully stocked kitchen, so on a typical day, I'll pick up a snack and then catch up on emails and messages. Then I sit down and outline what I'm doing for the day. Much of my day is collaborating with other engineers and getting context from other teams to make sure I understand what I'm working on.
It's ideal because I have people here that I get to bounce ideas off of and get feedback from. We get catered lunches, so during lunch time I like to sit outside, catch up with my coworkers, and get some vitamin D. And, like I said, we're right by the pier, so it's nice outside all the time, which is perfect. I like to take a 15 to 20-minute walk in the afternoon to break up my day and refocus.
There's also a lot of social activities available to participate in. Right now, for instance, I'm in a bowling league. We get to compete with some of the other companies in Santa Monica for bragging rights. It's really fun!
Bowling? Are you all undefeated?
We are currently tied for second place in the league and on track to be in the playoffs.
Who is someone you admire and respect a lot?
I'm a huge proponent of diversity of thought. At a company, it's the foundation of building strong, innovative teams. As a person, the more you step out of your comfort zone and gain different perspectives, the more you grow. Ada Lovelace, often referred to as the first programmer, spent her life bringing together the fields of arts and sciences – she called it "poetical science." She dreamt up the most interesting things, from a steam-powered flying machine in the shape of a horse to a computation machine that could produce music. This was unheard of in her time, but she was a visionary who saw past the number-crunching capabilities of computational machines and realized their creative potential as being tools to create art.
- engineering-careers - PowerToFly Blog ›
- Women Engineers Share Their Experiences in the Tech Industry ... ›
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
A five-step framework for addressing systematic racism at work
The world has changed in the past few weeks.
We're watching corporations and organizations across the world come out in support of Black lives in droves. Many of those organizations are doing so for the first time in their history.
Living in the midst of a pandemic has brought about a whole host of changes and challenges for workplaces and employees. One of the most notable? Virtual interviewing. With most on-site interviews on hold for the foreseeable future, it's important that you be prepared to make a great first impression—virtually.
Women Founders & CEOs Share Their Tips
If you're anxious about looking for a new job right now, you're not alone. We've talked before about how you can land a job in the midst of COVID-19, but today we wanted to share advice from some of the experts who spoke at our inaugural Diversity Reboot Summit.