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Refinery29 Reviews

Updated February 2, 2018
111 reviews

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3.0
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Philippe von Borries
63 Ratings

111 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • awesome learning experience since the company is growing through tremendous growth (in 5 reviews)

  • Great themed monthly birthday celebrations, snack-filled kitchens, frequent happy hours (in 7 reviews)

Cons
  • I would also argue that the people who have complained about work/life balance do not understand what a high-growth digital environment is really like (in 23 reviews)

  • No work/life balance and no appreciation provided for hard work put in (in 9 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "product + engineering is 💯"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time

    Pros

    above all else: THE PEOPLE

    Cons

    company culture can seem a bit compartmentalized. quality of culture, pay, work/life balance, etc varies quite a bit department-to-department

    Advice to Management

    keep the mission and brand in focus, hire more people as actual fulltime salaried employees instead of permalancers (this isn't a problem in product and engineering, but seems to be elsewhere in the company) -- or at least start treating permalancers as first-class employees


  2. Helpful (10)

    "Growth impossible, great resume builder"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    The illusion of working at a cool company. The ghost of a formerly cutting edge, purposeful, fashion-oriented organization who will keep you company in your darkest moments of existential dread and convince you not to give up on life altogether.

    Many of the OG people who work/worked here are smart as hell and incredible people... somehow collectively not able to get it together.

    Cons

    I could go on and on about everything negative that I obsereved in my three years at this company but I'll spare you. I will say that this is a place that will promise you far beyond what they will ever actually offer you when it comes to career growth and support.

    Although built on a wonderfully fluffy and non-specific and somehow apolitical form of feminism, Refinery29 has lost its voice. Once a place that served a genuine purpose, pushed aesthetic boundaries, and had actual SERVICE to its readers, it is now a destintation for the most regurgitated forms of trendy interenet faux-activism and tired obsrevations of cultural milieu.

    Oh, and they treat their employees poorly but not as poorly as they pay them.

    All that being said, the bottom line is that the company is suffering which is why they just laid of 8% of its staff and have lost at least 4 C-level executives in the last 18 months. They tried to be more than anyone wanted them to be ( a sickness that all publishing companies currently suffer from). No one wants to subscribe to "the biggest media company for millenial women". We all see through the giant corporations now and what we see is not inspiring, it's depressing.

    Advice to Management

    Invest in your talent, we've all left for bigger and better things because you let us down. Stop trying to be the biggest. Stop pretending to be revolutionary, the revolution is not a mass media company owned by rich white people.

  3. Helpful (2)

    "They're Trying Their Best"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time

    Pros

    Employee perks! They have the standard time off benefits, 401K match plan, and health insurance but wow do you get to do some fun stuff while you are there. Once a month some great panel was happening with actually famous people. TINA FEY came to the office! They have free bagels on Friday and good coffee and snacks and some brand is always hosting a happy hour to give you free product. You want to be on camera and circulate around Facebook and Youtube? They are always using internal talent so you definitely have an opportunity. Also, if you like working with super cool and stylish woman, this is the place for you.

    Cons

    You will work so much here. I worked 9:00 - 7:00 most days a week and I took lunch at my desk. Also do not expect to be making the big bucks here.


  4. Helpful (6)

    "Go In With Your Eyes Open"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time

    Pros

    Great resume builder, moves quick so you learn a lot, great place to get started. Generally great people at the associate level.

    Cons

    Limited opportunities for growth, moves quickly so hard to get a grasp on anything, job security can feel impossible when layoffs are constantly happening. Clearly little to no vision for a sustainable future so that filters down to confusion at the lowest ranks. Raises are like getting blood from a stone, so make sure you negotiate yourself a good starting salary.

     I would tell people not to work there, but honestly, you're going to if you get a job offer because its a JOB in digital media, and at a brand with a lot of cache. So I get it. I'd probably still go work there again if I had to do it over again, even if future-me were able to pay a "Christmas Carole"-type visit to my bedside to walk me through the years of chaos and low salary I had to deal with.

    So if you must go work there, go in with your eyes open and think strategically about what is best for you, and don't get lulled into a sense of loyalty to the supposed mission of "helping all women everywhere." Its a business, not a non-profit. The real mission is money, and if Refinery29 were a person, he/she'd step over his/her own bleeding grandmother to get it. Build your brand and voice, get experience, and get out.

    Advice to Management

    It's no secret how low employee satisfaction is, so I can't imagine what advice at this point could get through to anyone there. (Hi! I know you read these!)


  5. Helpful (5)

    "bleh"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    everything was good at R29

    Cons

    unpaid intern hard to live


  6. Helpful (9)

    "Awful"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Parties that are basically created just to be instagrammed, Sometimes free lunch, nice office.

    Cons

    Terrible management, and unfriendly people. I was provided no room for growth after 2 years of working here and expected to work at all hours. No work/life balance and no appreciation provided for hard work put in.


  7. Helpful (1)

    "Amazing place for career and personal growth"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Director in New York, NY
    Current Employee - Director in New York, NY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Entrepreneurial culture that allows you gain a wide and varied experience with many resume-building projects, lots of passionate and eager people, and constant experimentation and change with the goal of improvement.

    Cons

    While the overarching brand mission is clear and inspiring, the company needs a more clear business strategy. That shouldn't stop anyone from pursuing a role at R29 -- at the end of the day, its about the journey, not the destination and any role at Refinery29 will be memorable and impactful.

  8. Helpful (2)

    "Come For The Opportunity, Stay For The People"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    This is a mission-driven, global media brand that elevates the stories and POV of women. Let that sink in for a second. Name another publisher in the market doing the same thing at the same scale. In some ways, I believe this is really all you need to know about working at Refinery29. The rest is just gravy. The writers and editors within these walls are so passionate, creative, and inspiring — and the team is dedicated to improving the quality of our work every day. If you have a great idea and the motivation and drive to run with it, you can make it happen. I've watched people go from entry-level roles to their dream job with the support of some great mentors and managers.

    Cons

    The limited resources, but that is not unique to Refinery29, that's media. I would also argue that the people who have complained about work/life balance do not understand what a high-growth digital environment is really like. You work at a place like this because you want to permanently alter the trajectory of your career. That might mean pulling longer hours, or taking on tasks outside of your JD, but I see that as an opportunity. You learn, grow, and evolve here at an exponential pace. Make no mistake: It's exhausting, but it makes you a better, and infinitely more hirable, editor.

    Advice to Management

    Continue to invest in quality journalism. Push for even more diversity in your newsroom. Never lose sight of your mission.


  9. Helpful (9)

    "Avoid avoid avoid"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Refinery29 full-time

    Pros

    A great mission of women empowerment

    Cons

    Nasty people who will talk about you every chance they get. Coworkers who care more about how cool you look than your actual work and talk about everyone and anyone. Hours that can extend to the wee hours of the night


  10. Helpful (14)

    "Save Your Mental Health and AVOID"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Refinery29 full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Company happy hours, cool people/events around the office, people outside of the company think that it's a cool/great place.

    Cons

    R29 does not practice what it preaches. They talk so much about the importance of women advocating for themselves and taking control of their bodies and mental/physical health, but when their employees do it, we’re told that we should just be grateful for the opportunity to be working there and that there are “limited resources.” In the past, they have published articles about the importance of work-life balance and the detrimental nature of a toxic workplace, but there is zero work-life balance there and the workplace culture is more than toxic.

    Bosses text you at 11pm, early in the morning, every day of the week including Saturday and Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Enjoy your “day off!“ Except you still need to constantly be checking email, writing something, publishing content, posting content on social platforms etc. The holiday calendar is abysmal, and you have to jump through 10,000 hoops to get a day off.

    If you are coming to R29 from a company with any semblance of structure, you will be shocked at how poorly it is run. The HR department is passive aggressive and only has the best interest of the company at heart, not yours. Upper management is terrified to stand up to executives, and the culture of quiet bullying trickles down from the top and seeps into so many parts of management. Higher ups (and HR) are desperately trying to make sure that people don’t find out how bad it is. People working 60, 70, 80, 90 days consecutively not having a day to themselves? That’s wrong. Offering only 5 paid sick days to full time employees? That’s wrong, and also well below the national average. People work from 9:30 to 6:30 (usually 7:00/7:30) and eat lunch at their desks. Nobody encourages you to have a life or interests outside of work. Everyone is competitive and only wants to promote themselves, and it’s not a healthy environment. Internally, it’s not about building women up, it’s about building yourself up so you can leave the company and be in a decent position to go somewhere that values their employees and their employees’ health.

    Please, look at these reviews. You may think you were offered your dream job at your dream company. It is all surface level. You are better off working for a company that actually cares about its employees, and actually practices its ethics and values internally.

    There is a difference between "the hustle" it takes to work in media and an office that literally doesn't care that people are getting sick over the hours they're having to put in. Working in media is hard! But there are media companies that take a lot better care of the people working so hard to make them great.

    Advice to Management

    Hire more people so employees aren't having to stay up until 1am on a Friday or have their Easter dinner interrupted 12 times to finish/do work. Implement practices that benefit employees so they are happy to be working there. Stale bagels on Fridays are nice, but we'd rather have more sick days and a better work-life balance.


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