“Sounds like a great place to work! I wonder why the agency is named Matterlab?”
That was my initial thought after my first conversation about the possibility of joining Matterlab.
Let’s take it back a little further.
I received a message on LinkedIn from a woman I’ve never met. The title of her message read “Marketing for Social Impact.” With a raised eyebrow, I read what she wrote. It was about an open Consultant* position—a full-time role in account management with Matterlab, working directly with partners (what Matterlab calls clients). I was not looking for a job, but I was certainly intrigued. I had never read a job description where you could feel the passion of the company; I did that day.
She asked if I was able to chat with her for about 15 minutes, and after that one conversation, I knew I wanted in.
At that point, I’d been working in the education sector for a few years. Finding such a niche in an industry that I initially believed did not have any use for my talents was a happy accident. I stumbled upon my lane in Marketing positions within charter and private schools, and it was then that I realized that while my skills are in marketing and strategic communications, my passion is in education.
During that handful of years in education, I truly loved what I was doing. My joys came from watching a child shyly begin their first day of school and then begin to make their first friends. Encouraging them to attend their first team sports tryout, audition for the school play, or try something else new. Some even wanted my insight into their college decisions. These things made my day.
When quarantined, I like the rest of the world had some newfound time to think, and I began to ask myself more than a few existential questions. Who am I, really? What am I destined to do? Have I truly found my calling? You know, the usual questions you ask yourself when assessing if you are fulfilling your life’s purpose and “living up to your potential.” (Millennial angst is a real thing!)
As I was reading about the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on underserved communities like my hometown, the questions only continued. The little voice that started this introspective game of 21 questions wanted me to dig deeper. What are you doing to make a difference? What can you do? Then, through a series of additional disturbing events we found ourselves in a dual pandemic—dealing with a novel virus and national (and international) protests for equality in America. The little voice grew louder and stronger.
And somewhere in there, Matterlab reached out.
Some weeks after my first conversation about Matterlab, I was invited to the official interview. The interview process was very interactive and an accurate representation of the day-to-day. I spent a great deal of time with both Studio VPs Jessie and Lane during that time, and it all felt right. They confirmed what I’d already gathered from my initial conversation: Matterlab spoke to who I was at my core. What’s most important to me is not only education but EQUITY in education. The communities within which our partners work and serve are similar to (or the very same) the communities that I grew up in—specifically Brooklyn, NY and Newark, NJ. Intrinsically, I feel a duty to the children whose lives we seek to support by extension, through the ways we help our partners figure out what to focus on in order to better define, measure, explain, and expand their equity impact.
After being a part of the team for some time now, here are a few key things that anyone who’s looking to join Matterlab should know:
- Our partners trust us wholeheartedly because we champion true partnership, we work hard to earn their trust, and we work hard to keep it. They respect our opinions and trust us with their life’s work, knowing that we are as passionate as they are about their causes.
- We have clear criteria for prospective partners. There’s even a rubric. We don’t work with just anyone. (See the second sentence in No. 7.)
- Your insight/input is valuable and we want to have it!
- You are empowered and trusted to make decisions that are in the best interest of our partners and the team.
- We manage up, down, and across. Yes, there is a company structure of a CEO, VPs, Managers, etc.; however, we all work collectively and collaboratively.
- We really are a team—no man is an island. You can call on any member of a team for help when you need it and they will be happy to help. (We do this constantly.)
- Searcy is everything you would want in a leader. Dollars do not drive her, impact does.
- Team culture is important to us. We enjoy each other’s company and we meet regularly. We don’t have those “this could have been an email” type of meetings. (Oh, and we don’t do much email with each other internally in fact. Slack for the win!)
- We love food, but tacos are especially special to us for another reason—you’ll find out why once you join the team.
- Unlimited vacation! (This needs no explanation)
When you make a big change in life there are times where you ask yourself, Did I do the right thing? I haven’t asked myself that question. To work amongst people whom I admire, who genuinely care about this work, and who live to make the lives and opportunities of others more equitable is rare. This very team is a testament to what Matterlab is all about.
During the interview, I never did ask why the name Matterlab. I made assumptions like equity in education matters, social justice matters, catalyzing change matters, anti-racism matters, and the Studio is our lab for all the things that matter.
Since then, I’ve asked. We’ll save that for another post!
*Sidenote: We now call this role Partnership Manager for greater clarity! We realized people thought that our “Consultants” were not full-time team members – and they are!