Hey everyone! I’m Mariam and I finished university last year, studying a Masters of Software Engineering from the University of Melbourne. I am now lucky enough to be working as a grad at REA! My experience at REA has been awesome so far. It’s been tricky having to do most of the grad program remotely but every team I have worked with has gone out of their way to make sure I feel supported. So let me show you what a typical day looks like for me!
I usually wake up at around 7:00 a.m. With an hour+ commute to work, I’d previously be rushing to get dressed and run out the door, but I now have the morning all to myself! I’ll usually do a home workout or go for a walk in my neighbourhood. I’ve actually been more active while WFH than I ever was prior (granted it was a low bar…)! I’ll then shower, get dressed and make myself a cup of chai before I get ready to start my day.
Here’s my WFH set up. REA has been amazing at making sure we have what we need to set up an ergonomic home environment. They let us borrow these super fancy ergonomic chairs from the office and let me tell you, when you are sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, ergonomics matter! Aah, to be a working adult. They even gave every employee a WFH budget each year to buy whatever they might need, and I responsibly used mine to get this standing desk because why sit and work when you can stand!
Might I also take this opportunity to introduce my little terrarium plant friend! Covid has meant that my cohort of grads have had to miss out on the usual team bonding activities we might do if we were in the office, but the Grad Program team has been coming up with awesome creative ways to make sure we all stay connected. Events have included virtual escape rooms, Trivia, games, and a remote Terrarium Making workshop!
I usually log in to work between 9:00 and 9:15 am. I’ll start my day by checking in with the team on slack so they know I am online and ready to work. On Mondays and Fridays, we’ll have a coffee catch up with the team at 9:30 where we just chill and have a chat. The rest of the week, this morning time before stand up is fairly quiet, and I like to use this time to study up on some of the tech the team might be using. I’ll also go through any PRs the team might have gotten done the previous day. While I don’t usually formally review them, I like to spend my morning reading through the team’s work. It’s a great way for me to familiarise myself with the team’s systems and learn from what my colleagues are doing!
At 10:00 am we have stand up. Stand up usually goes for about 20 minutes, and we take turns running it so everyone in the team can get some experience. At the end of stand up we have a ritual called “Question Time”. This is usually one of my favourite parts of the day. Someone in the team will ask a question and everyone goes around answering it, and I have gotten to know so much about my team in the short months I have been here! Today’s question is “What was your worst customer service experience?”. Question time usually ends up being as long as stand up, but I love kicking off the day with some entertaining stories!
After Question Time, once a week we have an hour-long knowledge sharing session. Someone in the team will go through something they learned that week and teach it to the team. It might also be someone explaining a system that they know fairly well. It’s a great way to spread knowledge and upskill collectively as a team!
If we don’t have knowledge sharing, we’ll break off into our pairs and get started with a card on the board. My pair and I are picking up a new card off the board today, so we’ll start by writing up a git issue explaining what needs to be done as part of this piece of work and what approach we’re taking to solve it and why. Doing this thinking before we start coding saves heaps of time later in the process; it means we don’t code up solutions only to discover halfway through that it won’t work, something I was way too guilty of during my uni days.
At around 12:00 pm, my pair and I will break off for lunch. I’ll head off to my kitchen, and depending on how lazy I’m feeling, will whip something together for lunch. Today’s lunch is a veggie pastry. Being at home means I can use the oven too. I’ll usually either watch a show while I eat or read a book. Once a week my REA buddy and I will have a virtual lunch together too, where we just catch up and eat. She’s been amazing at helping me through the grad experience (thanks Di!!).
At 1:00 pm I’m back online and continue pairing. My pair and I kick off with the issue we put together in the morning with the team. This just means we talk through what we are thinking of doing and the team can then help point out anything we might have missed! Kick offs are usually quick (15 mins) and after the kick off we’ll fix up some things based on the feedback we get and are now ready to start coding!
The afternoons are usually focused time to get work done, but we’ll have some meetings as well. These meetings can be anything like updates from the CEO, our line of business, the grad team or team rituals like retros. I’ll usually chat to my mentor or rotation lead during the afternoons too. Between them and my buddy, I have heaps of people to check in and make sure I am on track and feel supported.
At around 3:00 pm my kitty cat will come and check in on its hooman demanding a petting session. She can be distracting sometimes, but her adorableness completely makes up for it!
Some days around 4:30, we’ll have a games session to end the day. Once a week it’s with the grads which is always heaps of fun since I don’t get to see them as often. But other days it’ll be with my teammates. We usually play some fun online games such as Jackbox tv, Skribbl.io etc.
At 5:00 pm I’ll usually log off. REA is amazing with work life balance, and there is no expectation to do overtime. As soon as the clock hits 5:00, if we’re close to finishing what we’re doing, we’ll take an extra 5 – 10 minutes to wrap up. But if it’s going to take longer than that, it’s a problem for tomorrow. After I log off, I have no commute, so I have the rest of the evening to myself. I’ll usually make dinner, catch up with friends or work on some of my hobbies. Netflix is a valid hobby right…?