MRI Summer Internship Series: Weeks 3 & 4
Each year, MRI has the pleasure of guiding a group of young professionals through their transition between school and the working world. Throughout their time here, they’ll be sharing every detail of what it’s like to work for a growing tech company in many different capacities. Follow this summer’s MRI interns to hear about their journey into the world of software at MRI. Check out how our intern’s experience is going now that they’ve settled in. #MRInterns2017
How ‘Common Sense Casual’ Works in the Workplace
Common sense casual is an integral part of what I see as MRI’s culture. By keeping the work environment at a casual level of dress, I feel that MRI actively relaxes the corporate culture that we inhabit when we are at work. Common sense casual is two parts, casual attire and common sense. This means that there is no definitive bar of dress that one must meet in order to fit within the company, but at the same time there are reasonable limits to this. Those reasonable limits are understandable and easy to follow. I have worked one other job outside of MRI, and that job had a semi-formal dress code. I feel that this made going to work a more cumbersome experience, as I do not own many sets of formal clothing. Having to adhere to the dress code simply meant that I had to find a clean pair of formal clothes that would meet the dress code, and as somebody without much clothing to begin with, this proved to be a task that I had to plan out well in advance for work.
At MRI, common sense casual is one way that the company expresses its core values. In allowing employees to dress as they naturally would within reasonable limits, a layer of abstraction is effectively removed between the employee and the workplace. I feel that people are more approachable when they are relaxed and wearing normal clothing than if they were wearing formal clothing, although this is definitely personal preference.
Formal clothing creates a standard that I believe blocks communication in some aspects, as it gives us the subconscious urge to act more formal and indirect in order to be professional. I think that common sense casual can allow for the same level of professionalism without the added task of having to dress in uncomfortable clothing for extended periods of time.
Overall, the practice of common sense casual is very beneficial to the experience of working at MRI Software, as it creates a relaxing and collegial environment where I feel that I can focus more on my work than how I am dressing. I don’t feel that not having a formal dress code hinders the company in any way. It is part of MRI’s culture and it is an aspect about the company that I very much appreciate.
When I was first hired at MRI for the summer internship, I was surprised to hear the dress code. I was expecting the dress code to be business casual, business professional, or something similar, but I received an explanation of a dress code that I was unfamiliar with: “Common Sense Casual.” While I know many companies are moving to dress codes like “Smart Casual” (very similar to business casual), “Common Sense Casual” is much more casual than any other dress code I have heard of before. While employees are still expected to look presentable, the dress code allows for much more freedom, creativity, and comfort.
“Common Sense Casual” is a dress code that allows employees to wear things like hoodies, t-shirts, jerseys, athletic shoes, jeans, and modest shorts to the workplace. However, it is still expected that employees use their “common sense” when dressing, and not wear things like shirts with inappropriate sayings, basketball shorts, or pajamas. This allows employees great freedom in dressing in the morning, but ensures that they still look presentable in the office.
In addition to freedom, the “Common Sense Casual” dress code allows employees to express their creativity. Personally, I am someone who has a high level of interest in clothes and shoes. In a normal business casual or business professional environment, it would be more difficult to be creative considering I only have so many suits, so many different dress shirts, so many pairs of dress shoes, etc. With the “Common Sense Casual” dress code, I am free to wear my favorite pair of basketball shoes, my favorite hoodie or shirt, etc.
Lastly, the “Common Sense Casual Dress Code” allows employees to be comfortable while they work. On a hot summer day, employees are free to wear a t-shirt and some nice khaki shorts if they choose to do so. I can only imagine having to wear a suit all day in 90-degree weather. Extreme weather aside, wearing jeans, a hoodie, etc. is always more comfortable than putting on those dress clothes. Personally, if I am uncomfortable, this makes it difficult for me to focus, especially for long periods of time. Having the freedom to dress a little more casual can get rid of this potential worry, and ensure productivity. I am positive that this was one of the main reasons why MRI decided to implement the “Common Sense Casual” dress code.
At every other job I’ve had there has been a dress code, most I did not mind, but there was one that I could not stand. At a pizza shop I worked at we had to wear visors when handling food, and these were not any normal visors. No, they were the ugliest visors the company could have created and then forced us to wear them. Multiple times while employed there I asked to wear anything but the visor, like a hat or even a hair net; however, every time I asked I would be shut down. When customers would come in to order I could tell they were looking at the visor, and not at me. One time a friend of mine asked after coming in, “Why does everyone wear those visors?” Yes, they were that bad. They were so bad that the embarrassment became distracting for some employees. Every other dress code I’ve ever had to follow was pretty simple, and I didn’t mind.
I have never worked in a formal dress code environment, but I always thought I would like to wear a shirt and tie to work every day. After just a few weeks at MRI, I have come to see I much prefer the ‘Common Sense Casual’ dress code. The dress code is pretty self-explanatory, and all you really need is some common sense. Personally, I consider myself a semi-nice dresser, and I don’t own anything that I would consider offensive so my whole wardrobe is good for work. If you prefer more “offensive” style clothing, such as, bad language, hurtful jokes, dirty clothing, or something that has lots of holes you might want to buy some fresh threads before starting here.
Now before starting here I did not think I would take advantage of the ‘Common Sense Casual’ dress code as much as I do now. I thought of myself more as a “dress to impress person” and would wear a shirt and tie close to everyday. After the first day of wearing a tie, I stopped thinking that. I never realized how uncomfortable and distracting formal clothes become after wearing them for more than five hours. Needless to say today I stick to more casual attire, such as, nice jeans, a nice button up, and clean shoes. The only downside to this dress code is deciding what I want to wear in the morning because I have so many options that follow the ‘Common Sense Casual’ rules.
What’s the Scoop on MRI Corporate Culture?
Many people may ask, what’s so great about the culture at MRI Software? It’s a corporate company, so you may expect, unattainable strict expectations, limited teamwork and a CEO that lays the hammer down. Yes, we are a corporate company but we don’t fit in that traditional corporate mold. Let’s take a look at the core values that mold the culture we promote:
“We promote a collegial environment that facilitates enjoyable relationships with co-workers”.
Teamwork is of the utmost importance to our mission and our success. We truly and whole heartedly believe that the foundation of any successful business takes each and every employee. Not only does it take each employee working independently, it takes each employee working as a well-oiled machine to work. That’s why at MRI we strive to work together to maximize customer satisfaction, profitability and growth.
“We drive and adapt to change that enables our company to rapidly evolve and improve.”
Innovative, creative, and flexible are just a few words that describe not only our software but our culture. Software is constantly changing so we have to make sure we not only keep up but we can be a part of that change. Sometimes we even create the change. So how do we implement this throughout our company? We are constantly brainstorming, we are working across departments together, and we are always adding new members of our team to bring new talent.
“We foster a disciplined and deliberate approach to problem solving across the organization.”
Our CEO doesn’t lay the hammer down and we don’t have strict, unattainable expectations but we do have set goals and a plan to achieve them. What does this look like? This looks like cross-departmental meetings, a flexible and encouraging manager, and a CEO that loves nothing more than to see everyone happily making this business grow just one day at a time. Let’s put this in action for you. . .
As a legal intern, I work closely with the three on-staff attorneys but as quarter two comes to a close, I have sat in on meetings with the Vice President of sales, sales operations teams and our sales teams. At every meeting, the goal is simple, figure out what deals we can close for end of quarter and what we need to make it happen. That’s only one example of the daily happenings at MRI.
Keep following the adventures of a summer intern #MRInterns2017
Not on the Coffee Cart: Projects I’m Working on at MRI
Only a few weeks into my internship experience this summer I have already participated in two different projects. For the first two weeks at MRI all of the interns were tasked with creating an internal web based tracking tool for open source libraries. Previously, in order to use a certain library in a project, information about the component had to be passed around through email to make it through to the approval process. To make the workflow easier, the interns were given the outline of a web program built in ASP.NET MVC framework to fulfill the role of tracking and exchanging information about the open source libraries. Before my time at MRI I had never touched ASP.NET, C#, CSS, or even Visual Studio, quintessential tools for building this web program. I was intimidated at first due to my lack of knowledge and experience however after a few days of working alongside my fellow interns and almost constantly asking full time employees questions I began to understand my tools and started to really contribute to the project and solve challenging problems related to webpage design and database management. I was amazed at how fast I learned about real world software engineering in an Agile environment as well as new languages and tools for development.
After the first two weeks the product development interns were split up to help real product development teams advance MRI’s products into the future. I was assigned to the BostonPost team who works to update and manage MRI’s BostonPost Property Manager for affordable housing. Three other interns and I were tasked with experimenting with a new internal web development tool as well as helping redesign the current BostonPost pages in the new tool. The tool is still in development so we have to work closely with the framework team to document and iron out bugs as well as invent new features. Developing web pages with an unfinished tool is exciting and meshes well with the Agile development method so that both the new tool and BostonPost can progress forward at the same time. It is also quite rewarding to be working on the forefront of a new development tool that will most likely be used within the company for long after my internship has ended, meaning that what I’m doing today will cascade to many interns after myself and possibly to the rest of the company internationally. The work ahead of us at BostonPost is daunting however with the constantly shifting environment and new challenges every day the work stays far from boring.