Monday, February 2, 2015

Professional Development

December 15th was my 3-month anniversary at one45! As such, I had my 3-month review with Tracy. 

It was a fairly straight forward process. I had to fill out a Google doc with things I felt had gone well, things to take a look at, and goals I wanted to set for the next quarter. Tracy then reviewed this, added her comments, and we met together to discuss it. And, well, yall I'm really excited about the goals we set this quarter. 

I have been having serious doubts about whether or not I'm cut out to be developer or whether or not it's something I even want to do. I had felt so unprepared after graduating and entering a real development job. 

The University had been so against group projects or working together on projects until the senior year, and even then we only had one class each semester that last year that involved group work. We'd had one class in sophomore year where we had group presentation on research, but no group coding. The project senior year was not ideally set up to encourage group work. There was typically not enough to go around for the number of people on each team. I didn't put in 100% to this class, I was trying to get my anti-depressants at the right dosage. Yet very few people I know felt like it was a particularly effective class.

Now we're out in the real world, supposed to find a job at a real company and perform effectively in a group setting. I'd never written any automated testing. I'd worked very minimally with a version control system in the last semester. I'd never seen a system with legacy code. 

I was so horrified before starting at one45. I felt as though they were going to "figure me out" as soon as I started. I had been honest with my lack of experience in areas they asked me about. Yet I still felt as though I'd be expected to pick them up instantaneously on day one. 

Thankfully I walked into the right office building. I managed to find the perfect company in which to be a junior developer. They expected that I would be able to learn and that I had a base level of cs concepts. They were very patient with me as I need second, third explanations about the subversion commands and setup, the way our product was constructed, and the various technologies we used to build things. I have learned a great deal in the last four months, and I have everyone at the company to thank for that. 

Yet I still wonder if this is really what I want to do. 

That's where the professional development comes in. 

Tracy wants the "new kids" to start a book club. We won't be reading 50 Shades of Grey, but we will be reading Agile Estimating and Planning. Beyond that, Tracy asked me to lead the group, to set up the start deadline, set the agenda. 

I'm also starting to follow some tech blogs, find a particular article each week to summarize, and take at least two really interesting ones to the team. 

Annnnnnd I'm still not sure I want to be a developer.

The great part is that these development goals aren't developer specific. They are good professional habits to have no matter what field you're in. Learning doesn't stop when you graduate, and neither does the world. Things are always changing and the best professionals keep up with that.

I really feel lucky to have found a company that invests so heavily in its employees. I don't think every company takes the effort to make sure you learn how to be in the workplace. You either get it or you don't.

We'll see where the quarter takes me. 

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to work I go

Back in Vancouver after a great 10-day visit to family and friends. Work is steadily picking up.

We have a co-op that started on the 5th. Co-ops are a really neat program. For the engineering majors up here, you are typically required to have a co-op before you can graduate. Unlike an internship, they usually last 8 months and you take time off from school to work full time with the company. This allows you to get more involved in long-term, real projects that the company is running. Plus, the universities help place students, forming relationships with local companies to send constant streams of co-op students to. We're currently conducting interviews to find another co-op to start in May, with the long-term goal of having a program of two co-ops at a time, on alternating schedules so there will always be overlap.

I got to present a Lunch and Learn. Before the winter holidays a few of us had started looking into using database triggers (the Wikipedia site here is actually quite good) to solve a couple of issues we were having. I implemented two triggers for a smaller ticket I was working on as a proof of concept, then presented the code to the team for approval. Tracy asked me to put together a Lunch and Learn summary of database triggers and a recommendation on a set of guidelines under which the company would use them. Lots of research and several slides later, I had a presentation! It went over really well and I got lots of great feedback from the rest of the team.

The service team is doing really well. We've been meeting our weekly velocity goals and often exceeding them. There's been discussion about the growing pains our overall team is facing. We typically have a sprint planning meeting every Tuesday where we discuss all of the tickets that have been pulled into the queue. Now that we've formally split into two teams to deal with the two queues, it doesn't make as much sense for the service team members to listen to an hour and a half of in-depth discussion about the product queue tickets, and vice versa. As a result we've split into two meetings at separate times for each team to evaluate its own tickets, then presenting a very high overview to the entire team on Tuesday. 

We've made another hire who will start later in January. We had to sit down as a team and have a serious conversation regarding our expectations of future hires. Initially the management team wanted to make two "intermediate or senior" hires. Folks had differing opinions of what qualified someone as such, which was causing friction in our interviews before the holidays. I think that the hiring process will have to change. Right now Tracy conducts upwards of six hours of interviews with a candidate before they sit for another one to two hours with the entire dev team. When Mike and I were hired, that was only eight people, including Tracy. As the size of the team increases, it will be more difficult for the entire team to agree on a candidate. A general meeting to make sure no one will want to punch anyone might still be a good idea, but some of the concerns people were walking away with were pretty minuscule. 

The management team has described all of the quarterly and annual goals that were developed during a planning trip to Seattle last December. There are some large, exciting projects ahead. 2015 will be an interesting year for one45.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Blue Monday

This term Max doesn't have any classes on Monday, so we've been meeting up for lunch. Today we walked into Five Guys and were promptly asked how our Monday was going. I was having a very productive day at work, so I responded in a positive fashion. The nice man behind the counter said "Really? Most people are having a rough time. Something about Blue Monday."

Curious, I looked up the term. The third Monday of January, this concept first appeared in a 2005 press release resulting from research commissioned by Sky Travel. I laughed it off and went back to work.

Mike, Thomas and I went out for coffee later that afternoon. Mike mentioned he was have a particular sluggish Monday.

"Oh, yeah it's Blue Monday, Mike!"

"What's that?"

"It's the saddest day of the year!"


"Well, it's far enough after Christmas that people have lost the holiday spirit."

"Yeah! That's the way I feel!"

"The days are still really dark and it's so cold out. Plus people have given up on their resolutions."

"Oh my gosh I quit this weekend!!!"

"Plus it's a Monday."

"That's crazy that's exactly how I feel!!!"

That's how I learned about Blue Monday.