My name is Joonha Shin, a co-op student from University of Waterloo, and I’ve been working at Big Bang Technology for just under two months. Read more...
“So how’s your work going so far?”
It’s question that I get asked often. Whether it’s close friends from high school or fellow classmates also working in Toronto, they want to know what kind of work I do and what the working environment is like. I’ve also found that people are more curious about my work now that I’m working for a startup than when I used to work for big, international companies.
It’s almost like they also want to try working for a startup, but don’t want to take the leap of faith and try it for themselves. Maybe they would rather hear my stories and experience them vicariously, and that’s good enough for them. They ask me questions like, “So what’s the work place like?”, “What do you guys do?”, “How many people are in your company?”
I wanted to write this blog post so that people can get a feel for a life at Big Bang HQ, without actually working here.
First Day to First Two Weeks
On my first day at Big Bang Technology, the first thing I noticed was how the place looked: wooden floors, white brick walls, high ceilings, comfy couches, paintings, plants and six 27” Apple monitors. I felt a blend of both modern and classic design; I liked it.
When I first started in September, there were eight of us including myself. Soon, that number will go up to nine. For the first two weeks, I was floating around, pairing with as many people as possible. I got exposure to our development environment, the typical work flow, and how we make money. It took a while to get my feet on the ground, but after the first two weeks I started contributing a lot more.
One thing that’s very different here is that development is almost always done in pairs. The only time this isn’t true is if we are doing simple chores or research. Whether we are implementing new features or resolving a complex bug, we are always working together. The only time I work alone is when I’m writing blog posts or doing some quick admin work.
Even if it’s not strictly development, it’s not uncommon to see two people sitting side by side at a desk and working together. This is easy to do since we don’t have cubicles here. Sometimes, we take the concept of pairing a bit too far, like while making coffee or playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution (as well as Dark Souls) during lunch or after work hours.
To be fair, pairing isn’t always great. I’m not the world’s greatest developer yet, so when I’m pairing, I spend most of my time watching and trying to learn, rather than giving useful feedback. Sometimes it can feel like I don’t have as much input - and sometimes I feel a little useless. No one makes me feel that way though - that’s just me.
One of my my biggest goals during my co-op term here is to improve my programming skills. Not too long ago, Cameron asked if I wanted to pair with him after work to do some Code Kata; I gladly accepted his offer. And although becoming a master programmer is big goal for me, having great experiences and great stories to tell is just as important.
If you’re a co-op student and you’re curious about my story, you can find me on Twitter and ask me anything you’d like.