Employer Spotlight: TerraCycle
They say one man's trash is another man's treasure. At New Jersey-based company TerraCycle, one person's trash is another's design object. Their slogan is "Eliminating the Idea of Waste", and what that means is transforming waste into fun and functional products. The company collects trash from individuals, businesses, and organizations and saves it from clogging up landfills or getting incinerated.
So where does design come in? The team at TerraCycle create products like bags and supplies for school and the office, among other things. Designers do hands-on work, planning and creating products that not only look cool, but are saving the planet. The environment at TerraCycle sounds highly creative and super fun for designers who like working with their hands. To get a closer look at what it's actually like to work at TerraCycle, we talked with Chief Design Junkie Tiffany Threadgould.
Tell us about what it's like to work at your company (company culture, unique quirks, etc).
Tiffany Threadgould: TerraCycle thrives on a culture of transparency and high-energy innovation. Our team is made up of passionate, eco-minded employees. Our dress code is fairly casual. We're based in Trenton, NJ and we have company-subsidized lunch available every day. The office itself is furnished in upcycled decor, from the reclaimed Astroturf floor to the desks made from salvaged pallets and doors. In fact, helping to create these furnishings will be just one job function of the new Junior Industrial Designer that we're seeking.
Can you give us some background on TerraCycle and the mission to recycle the "non-recyclable"?
TerraCycle's mission is to eliminate the idea of waste. We have Scientists and Designers on staff to figure out solutions for items that were previously non-recyclable. Through our dedication to testing and solving all types of waste, we've found solutions for chip bags, cigarette butts, and even chewing gum. To us, nothing is waste. It's all materials for creating new products.
Are there any recent notable projects the company is particularly proud of?
One fun project was building a giant rooster sculpture from TD Bank waste materials for the installation at a new TD Bank in Little Havana in Miami.
What positions are you currently hiring for?
We're currently hiring a Junior Industrial Designer. A number of other positions that can be found here:
- Brand Partnerships Account Manager
- Brand Partnerships Associate
- Zero Waste Box Account Manager
- Global Project Manager for Beach Plastics
- Operations Business Support Associate
- Government Grant Manager
- And lots of internships are available, including internships in the Design, Science, and Graphics departments.
What do you look for right away in candidates?
Attitude is right up there with design skills and capabilities. Someone who is positive and has a can-do type approach to projects is important. The design department is essentially a custom maker shop, so we often get requests like 'Can you make a 10' sculpture out of toothpaste tubes?', or 'a dress from shampoo bottles?'. Fast thinking and being a 'yes' person is important to the job and the company. In addition to attitude, having a solid portfolio, good sketch skills, 3D modeling, a bit of programming with bonus points for Arduino experience, and being eco-minded are all things I'm looking for when going through portfolios and resumes. When someone has all of these, they're sure to be considered.
If someone does land an interview with your company, what do you think is the best thing he or she can do to prepare?
Do a bit of research on TerraCycle before the interview. It's a time commitment on both sides to come in for an interview, so the more educated the candidate is about the company, the more we can spend time talking in-depth about the position and job function rather than educating on what it is that we do. It also helps to gauge level of interest in the candidate.
What is your favorite question to ask in an interview?
I'll often end the interview by asking the candidate to name their favorite adhesive or mode of attaching two things together. I've gotten everything from rivets to velcro to invisible connectors. The answer isn't so important as much as being able to go along with non-standard questions.
Employers often ask potential new hires if they have any questions at the end of the interview. What's the weirdest thing you've been asked?
This is not so much a question, but one time a designer had brought her old water filters with her, since we run a free recycling program for those items. It made an impact because that person clearly understood what we do and helped show her commitment to the environment.