Digging the BackerKit Vibes
In my decade after college graduation, I held a wide variety of positions. I specialized in hardware configurations, drafted software contracts, and became a full-stack dev at a startup focusing on diversity and inclusion. Each team had a unique culture that brought along a diverse set of opportunities pushing me to grow.
I joined the BackerKit team as a Developer earlier this summer. I was excited to see what was unique about BackerKit, but was blown away with all the team’s positive characteristics. If you are curious about what sets the BackerKit team apart, here are a few facets that stood out revolving around the interview and on-boarding process along with all the support I’ve received.
Technical Interviews Don’t Have to be Painful?!
If you happen to be in the tech scene, this is not going to be a shock…technical interviews tend to suck. If you are not, you can get the gist from Sarah Mei’s tweet stream and Sam Phippen’s Medium post.
The first thing that really hit me about BackerKit was the difference I felt when leaving the interview. Typically I leave an interview feeling exhausted and uncertain. Not this time! While interviewing with BackerKit, it felt more like a collaboration than a test. I felt relaxed and comfortable, and was focused on getting to know the team and seeing if I felt like a good fit.
Most developer interviews have some sort of pair programming that is included. This usually involves the interviewee solving a problem while the interviewer observes and gives feedback. It was no surprise that BackerKit wanted me to come in and pair, but I couldn’t believe it when we actually pair programmed! No standing alone at the whiteboard, and no solving problems in Java. We worked on a real story that we were seeing for the first time together as a pair. We were able to brainstorm together, shooting out ideas, and discuss the best way for us to move forward. It was so nice to see how a day in the life would really be working through a problem and collaborating together.
Part of the reason why full-day interviews can be so exhausting is you need to be on 100% of the time even discussing technical topics over lunch. At BackerKit, we went to lunch together as a team, but instead of discussing what side projects everyone was working on, we spent our lunch just talking about life outside of work. Everyone had a passion outside of tech and would spend their nights and weekends doing something else they loved. When I met with the co-founders, Rosanna and Maxwell, they also brought up outside passions. It was apparent that everyone on the team loved working at BackerKit, and had something unique they were interested in when not at the office.
On-boarding For the Win!
For being a company on the smaller side, I was not expecting there to be any sort of official on-boarding, but BackerKit gets the importance of starting employees off on the right foot. I arrived to the office the first day with a welcome packet full of goodies and a clear syllabus that accounted for everything!
Meeting the Team
My first week was dedicated to on-boarding with teams across the entire company. We spent our time digging deep into crowdfunding, learned the history of BackerKit, and discovered what led the company to be where it is today. We explored what BackerKit does to support creators and their backers. My favorite part of the week was spending time sitting in with the support team diving into the various features and discovering potential roadblocks.
Getting up to Speed Through Pairing
In my previous position, I spent only a few hours a week pairing. This was not the case at BackerKit. I was a bit nervous about the prospect of pairing for an entire day. Turns out, full-on pairing is an awesome way to get up to speed with a new code base! We had to slow down a bit for the first couple weeks, spending a little extra time mapping out relationships and allowing me to get used to the editor-of-choice’s (RubyMine) features and shortcuts. Having only been here for 3 months, I’m completely comfortable navigating my way through the app and the team is now approaching me with questions on how things work!
Support From All Angles
BackerKit has a core value of learning through failing. An environment that removes the fear of setting challenging goals allows a path forward to experiment and find the simplest solution. Feedback can then be assessed to see what lessons have been learned and where to apply the knowledge gained.
Even though this approach builds strength, learning through failing brings along a natural course of ups and downs. What has stood out most was the proactive efforts to acknowledge and provide guidance throughout the learning process.
Everyone on the team has a weekly one-on-one with their department manager. Here you can set goals for yourself, evaluate what has been working, and address any struggles. I appreciate having a manager that can help me recognize areas of growth. In the past, I’ve tended to burn out from taking on too much too fast. We worked together to reduce the load on my plate reprioritizing top goals to focus on. This removed a huge weight off my shoulders that I hadn’t realized I was carrying.
At BackerKit, my peers are not just on the developer team, but the company team at large. It’s been awesome getting to work daily with teammates across all departments. I’ve set some personal goals for myself, including writing this blog post, and it’s been so comforting to have so many of my peers share the excitement as I make progress.
“When you learn, teach, when you get, give” ~ Maya Angelou
I have learned more than I could imagine in my first 90 days here at BackerKit. Finding the right opportunity and joining a new team is not an easy task, but BackerKit has gone above and beyond to do their best to make me feel welcome and set me up with the tools to succeed. I’m excited to grow and share what I’ve learned along the way here on the BackerKit blog.