Experiences at Mercatus
Posted By: Lucy Trinh, Creative Director
A few weeks ago I asked one of our coop students, from Waterloo, to write about his experience working at Mercatus. Not knowing what to expect, and obviously hoping for a positive response, he emailed me this…
"People will often ask me “So how are you enjoying coop?” or say, “Must get boring going to work everyday”. The first time I tried to explain that I really liked my job, the people I worked with, and the place I work, I got that look of confusion. You know that look, -- ‘kids these days, they have no idea what they are talking about –enjoying work? Puh-lease’. I eventually came to realize that most people associate ‘work’ with ‘routine’. They associate their job with something they HAVE to do, not something they want to do. I started to ask myself why this happens. Why is it that I have a job that I enjoy, and I look forward to every morning? People can’t seem to understand that concept. It dawned on me that Mercatus is special; there is an energy about the place, a specific sort of chemistry that encompasses not just the upper management team, but also the developers, the IT group, finance, sales and the creative team. The company emphasizes an environment of ownership, of nurturing and growth.
I’ve worked in several professional work environments – banks, research institute, etc.; all of which were great opportunities, but not as special. Sure, I learned stuff, but I only learned stuff that other people in the company already knew, stuff that had a recycled scope. I remember thinking ‘why am I doing this, when that person can do the same job faster and more elegantly’. These environments were very static. In other words, they were stable, but did not grow and did not evolve very much. Mercatus is a dynamic environment – there is so much room to develop as a person and a professional.
I was given my first assignment on the first day.
My tools: A MacBook Pro, and an iPhone.
The instructions: We need a demo app that uses QR codes to evolve the shopping experience for a retail customer.
This demo app was requested for a show that had the potential to bring the Mercatus even more opportunities. As excited as I was, I couldn’t help wondering why they would give such an important assignment to a coop student – a student by the way, they did not know much about besides his resume. The answer came to me a few weeks later when I was showing my ideas to our COO. I had decided that I didn’t like the 2D carousel approach that was originally envisioned, so I implemented a 3D circular carousel that had all sorts of neat effects. I wasn’t really expecting much, partially because I was new, but mostly because at my other jobs innovation was not encouraged from young employees.
The response was fantastic; everyone liked it and wanted to include it in the app. I was asked to keep working on the concept, to refine it and evolve it. Two things should be noted here: first, notice that I said ‘I was ASKED’ not told to work on the concept. Why is this important? It induced a conversation between myself, and those my superiors, in both position in the company and intelligence. So why was this discussion necessary? Because: Mercatus values new ideas, new perspectives and discussions that incubate concepts. The second thing is that this new 3D concept sparked excitement not only me, but also the creative team who started to envision the possibilities and potential for the app. They eventually created a design that looked amazing; bringing app development to the next aesthetic level. It sparked a lot of excitement within the company and brought a whole new light to the sales team that would be taking this demo out on the road. To think that any ideas I contribute, could have an effect on the company’s direction, or vision is pretty frick’n awesome!
So would I recommend Mercatus as an employer? Abso-flippin-lutely. The environment emphasizes pride in your work and mastery of the tools that you are using, as well as innovation. The people are smart, funny and rather friendly – there is always something new to learn from someone. For example, just this week I learned that one of the executives used to be a professional baseball player – which just so happens to be my favorite sport, and was of course my career of choice when I was 8 years old.
I’ll leave you with the words of the French author and philosopher Albert Camus “All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door.” Maybe Mercatus will be your revolving door."
Sonu Lall, Mobile Software Engineer
I have to say, having worked at Mercatus for so long, you’re almost immersed in the culture so much that you often take it for granted; the openness, the ability to speak freely, the friendliness, the transparency, the lack of hierarchy, and the huge potential of growth and innovation. Our great culture begins with our people. Thank you Sonu for reminding us about our amazing culture. Kudos Mercatus, kudos!
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