Insights on Culture and Events at Ancestry

Posted by Jeremy Johnson on August 26, 2015 in Inside our Offices

I first joined Ancestry as a software engineer in 2006. I left to join a startup that showed a lot of promise, but like many of my colleagues at Ancestry who pursue work elsewhere, I came back in 2008. At the risk of sounding overly promotional, I’d like to highlight a few of the many reasons Ancestry is a fantastic place to work. Here’s a few that stand out to me: diverse talent, stellar benefits, laid back culture and the encouragement of experimental thinking. It’s all of these in one that make Ancestry an exciting place to work.

A great mix of people

Ancestry has great diversity and I think this is wonderful. I love being able to see varieties of perspectives from those of different backgrounds and disciplines.

One of the cool things about this diversity is having people who have worked at big and small companies as well as startups. There’s a really nice mix of debate as it comes to emerging technologies and also keeping the knowledge about existing technologies solid. The mix of perspectives at Ancestry has made this possible.

Benefits

Ancestry offers a host of great benefits and perks. In the Provo headquarters, there’s a cafeteria, free snacks, table tennis, XBox, and the health, dental and other benefits are really competitive as well. The company offers onsite massages at a discount and these really help get the day started right.

I like our cafeteria because we get discounted lunches and the food is really good. I’m kind of a health nut, so I’m happy there is asparagus, green beans and squash, along with the good stuff like a baked potato, steak or chicken.

Also, Ancestry has a laid back dress policy. I don’t have to worry about showing up to work in a suit and tie. In fact, I’ll go for a run at lunch and come back and work in my shorts and running shirt for a while and there’s no complaints about that.

I love that nobody gives me slack about coming back to work in my shorts and t-shirt. In fact, I gave a presentation the other day right after I ran my 5K and it actually made for a great story about how I run 5K’s a lot.

Events and celebrations

Ancestry recently held an event at Snowbird resort here in Utah for the entire technology organization. What was really cool about this is that the company flew people in from the San Francisco office to meet and greet those here in Utah. Snowbird had a variety of great activities. Here’s a picture from the event (I’m on the far right).

acomsnowbird

I liked the Snowbird event because I got to see some of my friends from San Francisco. One of my friends and I even went to a tall tower at Snowbird where you get secured by a harness and jump off the tower’s edge. You fall about 10 feet and then the harness catches you and lowers you down.  It was good to see him and reconnect with my co-workers from California.

The Snowbird event helped me see two things: the value of comradery, and that making stronger bonds with friends helps you work together better. The fact that my friend and I both jumped off the tower was a great experience and I feel like I know him better now.

In addition to the Snowbird event, Ancestry does an annual 5K run. I like the free shirt I get and running with my co-workers during the 5K. Ancestry also puts on celebrations on-site as the business achieves its goals like the catered lunch we had when we reached our 1 millionth DNA customer.

Ancestry encourages experimentation

I work in the technology organization. Ancestry encourages new ideas and experimentation. In fact, they have periodic events and hackfests to see what kinds of ideas people come up with. There is also an open door policy for anyone to talk to another with an idea about something. This kind of collaboration and feedback is highly encouraged.

When a hackfest ends, everyone will meet in a room to show off the great feature they made. What’s cool about this is seeing how everyone thinks. Some ideas from these hackfests have even made their way into our website as features for our customers!

Due to its diversity, benefits, events, laid back style and experimentation, Ancestry is a wonderful place to work. I really like it here and I’m glad to be back.

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