My First Week in Tech
October 20th, 2019
Four months ago, I was sitting amongst my colleagues in the beer industry, bro-ing out over the hottest barrel-aged beer and discussing profit margins on our newest can package. This week, I found myself on the 7th floor of an office building, adjusting my new blue light glasses while sitting at my cubicle, and trying to answer the question "So you're the new engineer right?" with a straight face. I felt a bit like I was role-playing someone else's life.
But I wasn't. This was my new life and I had to take a moment to be in awe of the full and rapid transition of career paths. I had actually done it, gotten out of a career that no longer suited me and positioned myself in an industry that would (hopefully) be a better fit.
So as a COMPLETE newbie to not only tech but office life, I've decided to reflect on some experiences and observations from week one.
Onboarding was extensive.
There is so much to learn when joining a new company on the tech team. First, I had to learn what exactly it was that the company did. There were a lot of legal terms to learn (it's a legal software company), a lot of people in different departments to meet, and a lot of security training videos to watch. Onboarding pretty much took up the first 2.5 days of my week, which helped to ease my fears of being thrown straight into complex legacy code.
Setting up my computer system was quite the project.
It took a full day to get my computer up to snuff with the company standards. Even with what would have been an easy one-step install, there ended up being errors and new versions and a variety of different steps I had to take to get it all working. On top of this, I had to get logged into about 15 different applications and keep track of 15 new passwords.
There was not a lot of coding.
I didn't get the code pulled up on my machine until Wednesday afternoon, and didn't start working on my ticket until Thursday afternoon. For me, that was great because it gave me some time to get comfortable in my space and with the people around me. Then when I finally got into editing the code I was super excited to dive in, and not as nervous as I had felt Monday morning.
They went easy on me.
My first ticket was a CSS ticket WOOHOO! I just had to fix some buttons where the centering was funky, and it was the least intimidating ticket I could have gotten. That being said, it took me 4 tries to get my fix approved because I wasn't familiar with the whole site (I accidentally messed up the print button on another page I didn't even know existed) and I wasn't up on company standards. Luckily, each time my issue got kicked back to me, a friendly face also showed up at my desk to talk me through what went wrong.
There were a lot of meetings.
About three a day. Some were introductory meetings that won't be a part of my day to day going forward, but many were sprint meetings, design meetings, team meetings or company-wide meetings that will continue to be part of my workflow. I like this, and knew I was going into a company that managed their time this way, but it's a good thing to ask about in an interview if you're the kind of person that wants to have more heads-down time. I like to have plenty of opportunities to talk through issues and learn from my teammates, so I'm a happy camper in meetings.
Offices have perks.
Not that I would have picked a job just for the office perks, but man do I love the snack wall. And catered lunch Mondays. And being in an office with tons of natural light. And my sweet mechanical desk so I can switch between sitting and standing as I please. These things have a bigger impact on my day than I would have expected.
My coworkers were incredibly friendly.
People were constantly coming up and introducing themselves, checking in to see if I needed anything, and more than happy to answer any questions I had. It made it much easier to interject in a meeting to ask about an acronym being used because I knew they wanted me to learn. They all seemed to understand what it's like to be a junior dev in your first job, and wanted to help make it as accessible as possible. Plus, I think they're just good people.
The work/life balance was on point.
About 80% of the office takes off at 5pm, if not a little before. People stroll in sometime between 730-9am, and no one really keeps track of what time you get in. You're just expected to get your work done. If your car breaks down, your dog gets sick, or you've got a headache, just work from home. We get two hours a week set aside for "Personal Development", there are monthly game nights that start at 4pm, and there's a great culture around actually taking your vacation time. I lucked into some of this, but would definitely suggest asking about these built-in perks in an interview.
I feel very lucky to be looking forward to waking up tomorrow morning and getting back to work. This is why I put myself through the madness of a coding bootcamp. It's already completely worth it, and I haven't even gotten my first paycheck yet!