Basecamp is hiring interns for summer 2016

Basecamp is looking for talented interns to join our team this summer. We’re excited to work with you, and the things you work on will impact millions of users at the world’s leading online project management tool.

About the Basecamp summer internship program

Interns at Basecamp work on real projects and are mentored one-on-one by a member of our team who will guide you throughout your time at Basecamp. The projects you’ll work on as an intern at Basecamp are all derived from real problems we face as a business, and we expect you’ll have a meaningful impact during your time here. You’ll leave Basecamp with new technical, creative, and business skills and having accomplished something significant.

Internships at Basecamp are remote — you can work from anywhere you want, provided there’s some overlap in time zones with your assigned mentor. We’ll fly you to Chicago once or twice during the summer to get together with your mentor and the rest of the intern class, and you’ll talk regularly with your mentor via phone, Skype, or Google Hangouts. You’ll also participate in some of our dozens of Campfire chat rooms every day.

All internships are paid and require a commitment of 8–12 weeks of full time work between May and August 2016 (we’re flexible on start/end dates, planned vacations, etc.).

About you

We’re hiring interns interested in working on programming, product design, operations, marketing, and data.

Regardless of role, there are a few key things we’re looking for in interns:

  • You are independent and self-driven. Basecamp is built on the concept of being a team of managers of one, and that applies to interns as well. You’ll get plenty of support and guidance from your mentor and the rest of the team, but no one will be telling you how to spend each minute of your day, so it’ll be up to you to make sure you’re making forward progress.
  • You are an excellent communicator. We write a lot at Basecamp — we write for our products, we write for our marketing sites and initiatives, and most importantly, we write as our primary way of communicating internally. Clear and effective communication is essential to being successful at Basecamp.
  • You have fresh ideas and you’re willing to share them. We don’t know it all, and we actively want to hear fresh ideas and perspectives that we haven’t considered.
  • You’re eager to learn. You’ll dive right in to new technologies, new approaches, and new concepts and apply them to your work.

How to apply

To apply, send an email to internships@basecamp.com explaining why you want to be an intern at Basecamp, what projects you’re interested in working on (see below), what work you’ve done in the past, and why we should hire you. Feel free to include your resume, but we’re big fans of great cover letters over resumes. Be sure to tell us what dates you’re available this summer and where you’ll be located.

We’ll be accepting applications through Wednesday, February 24th. We’ll be in touch to confirm receipt of your application and let you know about next steps shortly after we receive your email.

The projects

As an intern at Basecamp, you’ll work on one of the following projects directly with a mentor.

  • Programming: Research and implement new features for Trix, our open-source rich text editor (JavaScript / CoffeeScript) and integrate those features in Basecamp 3.
  • Programming: Make our Android app more Androidy. Taking into consideration the foundation of our hybrid (web + native) app development philosophy, our Android team will help you explore ways to make uniquely powerful Android features — ones that make our customers reach for their Android device instead of the desktop app.
  • Programming: Change the way people find information internally at Basecamp by unifying various internal search tools into a single source of all the information people need to respond to customer problems. You’ll talk to internal clients, survey the state of the world, and then build out a solution.
  • Design: Understand how people work with clients in Basecamp through a mix of quantitative analysis and customer research (surveys, structured interviews). You’ll work to structure the problem, identify the data that you need, write survey questions and interview guides, conduct interviews, and synthesize findings and implications for client features within Basecamp.
  • Marketing: Help us target a specific industry (or “vertical”) by picking an industry, identifying the various stakeholders who are involved, interviewing them, and building out a sample Basecamp to demonstrate how Basecamp can help them accomplish their work. You’ll launch your work and then measure the impact of that work on the targeted vertical.
  • Marketing: Identify what people are saying about us on social media by using your analytical and digital marketing skills to help determine both quantitative and qualitative ways for us to know what people are saying about Basecamp. Are they generally happy? Satisfied? What are they talking about? How can we measure our impact?
  • Operations: Bring us into the IPv6 age by coming up with a plan for us to add IPv6 support to our public sites, testing support, deploying the new configuration, and providing documentation and training for our operations and support teams.
  • Operations: Establish a way of offering custom domains for Basecamp 3 customers. You’ll figure out how to automate provisioning, handle terminating thousands of SSL certificates, monitor for problems, and make it a great customer experience.
  • Operations: Upgrade our hardware provisioning process so we have a fully automated process to take a server from the point of arriving at our datacenter to being production ready.
  • Operations: Make it easy for new people to come on board or set up a new computer by figuring out how to run everything you need for development in a virtual machine or container.
  • Data: Help us find problems before we feel the pain of them by improving our ability to identify unusual values in the over 30,000 services we monitor to tell us about the health of our applications and businesses. You’ll identify the right algorithms to use to detect aberrations, the parameters needed to ensure that we balance false positive and false negative alert rates, and put the system into production.

Employee benefits at Basecamp

Our headquarters in Chicago.

I’m often asked about the benefits we offer at Basecamp. Potential employees are obviously curious, but most of the questions I get are from fellow business owners and entrepreneurs. Everyone’s looking to know what everyone else is doing — as are we — so I figured I might as well post our current benefit list publicly.

Note: Since the majority of our staff works remotely, and some outside the US, some of these benefits are provided in different ways. For example, the 401k is only available in the US. We’re currently working on making sure everyone, no matter where they work, have commensurate benefits (or at least as similar as possible). We’re still working on this, so hopefully I can write more about how we’ve addressed this down the road.

Keep reading “Employee benefits at Basecamp”

What it’s like to start at Basecamp


I’ve been doing some archeology through our archives lately. I noticed a few patterns, including discovering a series about what it’s like to spend your first few weeks here at Basecamp. Looking back over the years, it’s neat to see people’s experiences evolve over time as our company as grown.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking a dive through time in these posts and seeing echoes of their experiences from my own trial month. I definitely felt vulnerable and not the most confident in myself when I started 4 years ago. I couldn’t name it at the time, but I was dealing with impostor syndrome as I dropped into a new team that I couldn’t even physically see most days.

Faking it until I made it helped, but that festering feeling of fear persisted. I think my eventual cure was, and still is, a relentless drive to leave the campsite cleaner (and better) than when I found it. Even if it’s a single line of code, a comment, or a little ping saying thanks — it matters.

This insight from my trial month continues to ring true:

One thing I learned really quickly was that our users are creative: If you give them the ability to do anything, they will do everything!

I’m surprised and delighted on a daily basis with how people use Basecamp. Our Everyone on Support days remind me of this on a regular basis! Since that first experience learning about how our users extend our products and their functionality, I’ve been hooked on helping them get even more out of our apps.

My coworkers have also reflected on starting at Basecamp and how it’s impacted their life, craft, and outlook. Here’s a few other highlights from other “first month” posts:

The 37signals community is huge! Every change is noticed — sometimes within minutes of being launched. Receiving instant feedback to your work is great (at least so far 🙂

Working at 37signals


I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how much everyone genuinely cares about the user experience with the applications they maintain. Everything from page response times increasing by a few milliseconds to minimizing interruptions during deployments or even the impact of the number of http redirects on load times — it’s all constantly being discussed and debated.

One month in Operations


While working on the Basecamp marketing site, I once made the mistake of sharing progress without real copy. My first feedback? Rework the words.

One Month in Design


Fortunately the treatment was simple. I just had to push myself to be vulnerable, to trust in my teammates, and to open up and let a little light in.

The joy (and a good dose of pain) of my first few months at Basecamp

I enjoy finding the common threads that weave across everyone’s experiences with their first few weeks. We’re constantly learning how to make this onboarding experience better for our new employees, and we’re not perfect at it still. Out of everyone’s first month posts so far, there’s a few lessons to be learned:

  • It takes some time to get used to the REMOTE culture, but it’s worth it!
  • Finding your balance and making your schedule your own is paramount.
  • Breaking things (sometimes immediately) is OK and expected.
  • We’re all in this together, despite being so physically apart!

I’m hoping we will have more to share about our first experiences in 2016. If you have something (or someone) that made starting at your job special, I’d love to hear about it.

RECONSIDER

#WEBSUMMIT2015

About 12 years ago, I co-founded a startup called Basecamp: A simple project collaboration tool that helps people make progress together, sold on a monthly subscription.

It took a part of some people’s work life and made it a little better. A little nicer than trying to manage a project over email or by stringing together a bunch of separate chat, file sharing, and task systems. Along the way it made for a comfortable business to own for my partner and me, and a great place to work for our employees.

Keep reading “RECONSIDER”

Introducing Mercedes De Luca, Basecamp’s first COO

Today we’re feeling really good because we get to announce that Mercedes De Luca will be joining Basecamp as our first-ever COO.

Over the last few years, David and I have come to realize that high-level strategy and hands-on product development is what we enjoy doing most. But of course there’s so much more to running a company than just that stuff.

Products are products, but companies are products too. Your company should be your best product, since it’s the product that produces all the others. We should operate the company with as much love and attention and care as we put into building our products. We want Basecamp the company to be outstanding at every level.

Mercedes is going to help us be all we can be. She’s been a CEO, a CTO, a CIO, and a GM. She’s run big groups and small groups — local and remote. She has the right mix of a structured, analytical mind and an insightful, creative spirit.

She’s wonderful with people — warm, approachable, and motivated to help everyone else be the best they can be. She’s excellent at spotting gaps, identifying things we should be trying that we’re not, building up capabilities without introducing bloat, and pulling together a team that produces results without compromising what a company stands for. She’s a person of principle and strong character. Her references were glowing — and so many of them touched on just how wonderful a person she is. That had a big influence on us.

We’re fortunate to have her on our team. We’re going to learn a lot, do a lot, and have a lot of fun along the way. And like the majority of our company, she’ll be working remotely (she’s based in California).

We were careful and deliberate with our COO search. We’ve got a great thing going here and the easiest thing to do is to fuck it all up. This is a major role and we don’t want to upset the balance that makes this company what it is today and what it’s been for nearly 17 years. We were looking for someone who would feel like they’ve been here for years, but also someone with a fresh outsider’s perspective. Someone who can push us in new directions and challenge us to do things we may have never done on our own — but never at the expense of the values we hold near and dear.

We talked to contacts we knew, asked others for recommendations, and ultimately hired an executive recruiter to help find the perfect fit. After interviewing an august collection of highly qualified and capable people, Mercedes stood out as the one for us. When it comes to considering a group of people who are all clearly qualified to do the job well, it ultimately comes down to something else — comfort. How do you feel about someone? Who do you click with? Who has the right combination of subtitles, perspectives, and life experiences that add up to something unique? For us, Mercedes had all the right stuff.

She’ll be starting in a few weeks. We think you’ll be able to feel her presence and influence in 2016. With an all new version of Basecamp right around the corner, with the best team we’ve ever had, and with Mercedes joining the crew, we look forward to the new year, the next decade, and beyond. Good stuff on the way.

Thanks for listening.


Originally published at signalvnoise.com.

Business Failing? You Might Be Asking The Wrong Questions


Going around asking for “feedback” won’t get you anything useful. Here’s how to dig deeper and find real answers.

I did fine in Catholic school, up until 6th grade. I don’t know why Sister Freda hated me, but I think she was trying to teach me a lesson. And I did learn a lesson — just not the one she had in mind.

The turning point happened like this. During a reading comprehension exercise about becoming a veterinarian, Sister Freda asked me, “Name one challenge people have in becoming a vet.” I gave an answer. It was wrong. She told the entire class that this is what happens when students don’t pay attention. If I had done the work, she explained, I would have seen the section in the reading that held the correct answer. It was intended as a humiliating lesson.

At lunch, I showed Sister Freda the reading passage in my book. She apparently wanted me to regurgitate the challenges that students face when becoming vets. But I pointed out a later paragraph that contained my answer — that many vets struggle to run their own practices as business people.

“Ah, ok,” she said, and that was it. She saw that my answer wasn’t wrong — if anything, her question had been too vague.

At that moment, I realized that teachers are like everyone else — they make mistakes. And if I was going to be a great student, I couldn’t be so passive about my education.

Starting in 7th grade, I asked a ridiculous number of questions. My hand lived above my head. I forced myself to think of hypothetical or advanced questions beyond the realm of the text or the day’s lesson. People groaned when I was called on.

I remember a fellow student turning around when tests were handed back. He noticed that I had gotten the higher score. “How did you get a 100% when you’re always so confused and have to ask so many questions?”

Despite ridicule from my peers, I kept at it. My grades soared, and at the end of 8th grade I graduated second in my class. If only I had asked more questions, sooner.


Don’t Forget The Real Question

Someone emailed me recently with the subject: “A question about start-ups.” But the email didn’t contain a question mark or anything remotely looking like a question.

Often I get advice seeking emails ending with, “Do you have any feedback?”
 But that’s not a question; it’s a cop-out.

Similarly, I’ve attended meetings where entrepreneurs make presentations to experts expected to share helpful guidance. But often the presentation is, “Here’s my product, what do you think?”

Same problem. That’s not a real question. And so a conversation with these experts is unfocused and frustrates the entrepreneur because her real problems go untouched.

I’ve made the same mistake myself, but I’ve been lucky to learn a different way. The most valuable feedback session I ever had with a mentor came before I released Draft, a software product I made to help people write better. I was prepared. Instead of asking for feedback, I asked how this mentor and successful entrepreneur would design a specific feature in Draft or how would he communicate the business model I had planned? I got much more than feedback; I got answers.


How To Ask Better Questions

There are plenty of people who’d love to help you with your business; you just have to ask, but they don’t have time to waste helping you figure out what your actual problems are. Get the most out of a potential mentor by approaching them with specific questions you’ve already identified and they’ve probably answered for themselves. How would you:

  • Increase the conversion rate?
  • Set up pricing?
  • Design this feature so that it’s clear and easy to use?

And force yourself to go deeper with your questions.

Toyota’s engineering processes are famously effective. One reason is that employees are taught to ask why five times when trying to solve a problem.

  • Why is the battery dead?
  • Why is the alternator broken?
  • Why didn’t the customer get alerted to this before?

This process helps engineers identify and fix the root problem instead of just treating symptoms. The same practice can be applied to your startup venture.

Act like a Toyota engineer and ask why at least five times.

  • Why is my business not making enough money?
  • Why am I not measuring my conversion and attrition rates?
  • Why is attrition so high?
  • Why haven’t I surveyed anyone who has canceled?
  • Why haven’t I added feature X which most canceling users are asking for?

And most importantly… Don’t worry about looking silly with the number of questions you have; just ask more of them.


P.S. It would be awesome to meet you on Twitter, or check out how we can help you start or improve your own business with Highrise.