So for the last two years, I worked at a mid-sized corporation on a small agile team creating software. It was a great experience and as my first job in software, I learned a ton. You’d think in my advanced age, and with a family that I would welcome the kind of stability a traditional business would bring… and I did. But something inside me wanted to go out there to really ‘prove’ myself at another company, to learn a different way of doing things, to take a risk. So here I am three weeks into my new job as software engineer at a 7 person startup as the only non-remote engineer and the one with the least experience. Reading that last sentence aloud now makes me wonder if I’m as crazy as it makes me sound.
At my old job, it must have been a good two months before I pushed out any real code and I didn’t see it in production for another few months after that. There were meetings with higher-ups, a project manager, a department VP and other support staff to help us tread the agile process. Today marks the end of my third week at my start-up and I’ve pushed about three features into our production branch. The fuck.
Of course I expected the start-up life to be fast paced but when your in the throes of it, it’s amazing how much autonomy you really get working at a small company and how quickly change takes place. The relaxed dress code, open schedule and the fact that most of the team is remote create a casual atmosphere but the break neck pace at which the code changes and new feature requests are added is already dizzying, especially as the guy in the room that knows the least.
Part of me misses the hand-holding and gentle on-boarding that I was so used to, but when your company is too small to play a full court basketball game, you’re gonna have to get up to speed on your own in many ways, whether it be learning the business, navigating the code, setting up your tools or choosing a health plan.
For my first job, I’m incredibly happy to have worked for a larger company. They gave my the opportunity to dip my toe into the water of software development before having me swim a few laps in the channel. Conversely, about now I feel like I’m treading water in the ocean, wondering what the hell that thing is bumping against my leg… in a good way though. I think.
If you’re interested in jumping into the deep end and working in the startup scene, I recommend checking out Angel List.