by Leon Rosenshein

Getting Started

It's summer, and welcome to our new interns. You're bright-eyed and eager to learn. You've got an amazing opportunity to learn from some of the sharpest minds in the business. So what should you learn?

Here's my top 6 things, in no particular order.

Sharing/Asking/Working on a team and email/Slack/ZenHub/Jira/Zoom: This is a big one. In school most of what you do will be on your own, and even when you're working on a team the projects are (generally) small enough that you can hold all of the details of the entire project in your head at once. Here, that's just not true. In school projects you'll spend lots of time with your teammates and the folks you're depending on but now, even skipping the WfH, you probably depend on folks in other states/timezones, and communication is much more asynchronous. Learning how to work with people you'll never meet or talk to, who are not nearby, and who have different priorities is a skill. The different communication methods have different bandwidths and transport delays. Knowing when to use each is a topic unto itself.

Taking notes and gDocs/Confluence/ Similar to interpersonal communication, being able to capture and share information with others and future you. Again, different methods have their pros and cons. Where does your audience normally look? How hard is it to change the docs relative to how hard it is to change the thing being documented? If it's significantly harder t update the docs than the thing itself then your docs will be out-of-date very quickly.

The command line and Bash: Wysiwyg is great, and some things are best consumed visually (RobotStudio anyone?), but let's be honest with ourselves. Most of what we do is keyboard centric, not mouse centric. The amount of data we deal with is staggering. `ls`, `find`, `grep`, `awk`, `sed`, `xargs`, `jq`, and they're ilk, along with `bash` for flow control will make your life a lot easier. Knowing when to use the simple tools and chain them together instead of building something bespoke will save lots of time

Version control and git: There's too much information in the codebase to keep in your head, and we all make mistakes, so having a way to get back to what works will save you a lot of time. We've all heard save early, save often, and version control lets you save steps along the way and get back to them as needed.

Building and deploying and bazel/docker: Repeatability. Along with version control you need to be sure that you do things the same way every time, or you'll quickly get lost. Bazel lets (almost forces) you to define what you need up front so it can keep things up to date for you. Docker lets you have the exact same environment every time, which can avoid the dreaded "Well it worked on my machine".

Your day job: Whatever project you're working on, you're working with folks who really know it. Not just what works, but what doesn't and why. Take advantage of all that knowledge.

Because when you get down to it, the more you know, the further you'll go.