суббота, 13 июля 2013 г.

The Candidate's Wishlist: Wrecked

After defending the diploma in the end of June I have finally got employed this week. I already feel how the job changes my life and get first benefits from it, but what is more interesting right now is the rapid mutation of my views on working as a programmer.
It is easy to track these changes because before engaging into a series of job interviews back in the last month I made up the so-called candidate’s wishlist – a set of about ten points, which I deemed important in the context of choosing a company to work for. What makes me speak of it here is the fact that some of the items are not fulfilled, though this makes me even happier with the new job.
One thing that I desired is a comfortable office. When composing my wishlist I tried to imagine the place where I would like to develop software: it had an A/C, a coffee maker and a teapot as well as other stuff of this kind – we have all of this. The workplaces with decent computers in my ideal office were distributed across several medium-sized rooms hosting three to five people each. That’s precisely where I failed: we have an open-space. I heard a lot of bad words about open-space and feared it a bit, but now I thank God for getting into this one. Although it makes the boundaries of my private zone elusive – almost non-existent – it is at the same time very friendly and welcoming. Being able to constantly see the colleagues around me working, engaging into passionate conversations regarding our progress and simply striding to and fro somehow motivates and, instead of distracting, helps to concentrate on doing my own job. After a couple of days there I truly believe that the way our office is organized plays a major role in making me a part of my new team – that’s something that, surprisingly, I have never heard about open-space.
On the other side, mere floor and walls – or their absence – can’t do much to improve and make easier one’s interaction with colleagues – that’s the people who make the difference. Upon coming to the office last Monday I found about three dozen interesting and kind men and women there, who are indeed willing to help me to get accustomed to the new job and environment. It turned out that not only my teamleader is concerned about my progress, but also other seniors do pay attention to what I do and, even though I am mostly learning new stuff now, they make me feel that I contribute a little to the progress of the whole company.
Beside the requirements to the office and the presence of experienced developers my wishlist included the desired size of the team – I thought that it should lie somewhere between five and eight people. The company failed this expectation as well – I am actually going to become the third guy working on a project and we don’t expect any more newcomers. At the same time, after the week on job I feel I can’t easily draw a line between our team and the others – we depend too strongly on those who do other pieces of work and they do depend on us to some extent. Due to this fact combined with the close to absolute availability of every colleague provided be the open-space I could say that the size of my team is about 30 developers, QAs and support engineers. This leads me to an interesting idea: the tradeoff between a small team and a large one is actually a tradeoff between the availability of many experienced colleagues to learn from and the ability to focus on a particular piece of work – software in my case – and the corresponding features and customers. It seems to me that the configuration with a very small team nested in a larger one and strongly connected with the latter’s other parts provides me both kinds of benefit. I know there are no silver bullets and free lunches and I might face some drawbacks in future, although I believe I am really lucky to have things laid out this way. Moreover, now I am not sure if organizing the development of the system of our kind is actually possible in some other fashion.
In addition to wrecking my wishlist this way, the job also affects my life outside the office significantly. I always stated that a full-time position is not only a source of income – it is a way to spend less as well. Now, as my spending halved, I have an actual proof of this hypothesis. Moreover, the positive outcomes of my employment are not limited just to the improved trade balance – I also smoke less and even procrastinate much less. On the other side, being obliged to work every day except weekends I can’t devote as much time to, say, this blog and my pet-projects as I used to. However, the lack of free time makes me manage it carefully to be able to do more. Combined with the fact that the job allows me to do something important for the company and its customers that’s a fair compensation. Finally, the ease with which I wake up these days confirms that I am pretty satisfied with my new employer and the regularities, which employment brought into my life.

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