Why Communication Is Key to Succeed as a Software Engineer
Your name: Bryan Mejía-Medina
Your title: Front-End Software Engineer
How long have you been at your company? 2.5 years
Tell us about your career journey: How did you end up working as a software engineer?
My career journey started in high school. I took a computer science class that allowed me to see the creative side of engineering through activities like solving logic puzzles, which solidified my interest in the field. Knowing that I wanted to work with computers, I enrolled at The College of William & Mary to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science. It was a challenging degree, and at times it felt impossible. However, by the time I graduated, I had the knowledge and intuition to become a software engineer.
What attracted you to work at Atlassian? How did you know it would be a good fit?
While at university, one of my professors encouraged me to attend the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing Conference. As a Latinx immigrant, I was eager to meet other aspiring engineers with similar backgrounds to mine, so I applied and won a scholarship that allowed me to attend the conference three years in a row.
During my third and final conference as a senior in college, I met Atlassian software engineers at the career fair portion of the event. They stood out from all the other companies because they were particularly friendly and genuine, and seemed to have a team-oriented attitude. My first interview with them felt more like a pair programming session than an interview. Their down-to-earth personalities, the flexibility to work from home, and the company’s values made it an easy decision to work at Atlassian.
What are you responsible for as a software engineer at Atlassian?
During my time at Atlassian, I’ve worn many hats. I’ve worked toward improving compliance metrics, maintaining our microservice inventory, and designing and developing internal tools to improve observability and system design. I’m currently working on the trello.com website.
Put simply, my responsibility is to write quality code that showcases the value of Atlassian products for our users and customers.
What does a normal day in your job look like?
Wake up. Walk the dog. Feed the dog. Make breakfast. Open laptop. Open email, calendar, Jira, Slack, Bitbucket, etc. Review any open pull requests. Pick up a user story and start coding. Daily standup meeting. Another scrum meeting. Take a break. Back to coding. Walk the dog again. Eat lunch. Probably another meeting. Code a little more. Hopefully not another meeting. Close laptop. Play with the dog. Repeat.
What are the primary technologies that you use for tooling and development?
For collaboration software, we use our entire suite of Atlassian tools—Jira, Trello, Confluence, and Bitbucket. As for technologies, our stack uses React Typescript and NodeJS. We use Storybook for our components and Jest for testing. We also use Slack and Zoom for team collaboration.
How is the engineering team structured?
Atlassian allows employees to work from anywhere—we call it TEAM Anywhere. Lots of people go into the office though, so there’s a nice mix of people working remotely and in person. I’ve personally never stepped foot in an Atlassian office, mainly because I joined right around the time offices were closing due to COVID-19. Someday I’d like to go and meet my team in person.
What is the software development process at Atlassian?
The work I do now is primarily developing and maintaining front-end components for trello.com, which involves collaborating with designers and members of the marketing team to increase our outreach.
Our workflow typically kicks off when the marketing team launches an initiative, such as building a new page to increase sign-ups. The design team figures out what this page will look like, and my team will write the code for front-end components to make them match their designs. Engineers review the code to ensure it is up to standard, while the design team checks the page to make sure it matches their vision. Once we launch the new page, we collect feedback and data (such as page views) , which the marketing team tracks to see if the new page is increasing sign-ups.
What skills are essential to succeeding as an engineer at Atlassian?
Aside from technical skills, I think strong communication skills are essential to succeeding as an engineer at any company—not just Atlassian. Being able to clearly articulate what needs to be done to complete a project, asking clarifying questions, and knowing when to seek help have proved to be invaluable. What good is pouring hours into a project if you don’t realize you’re building the wrong thing?
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
Working on trello.com has been really cool—I never expected to contribute to such a large website that gets millions of visits. Every piece of code I write helps maintain and improve the site, and it feels nice to know that my work can be seen by anyone.
I’ve also been focused on further pursuing my hobbies this year. As a New Year’s resolution, I joined a soccer team and a community band. Soccer and music are a huge part of my life and it feels great to make the time to be myself and have fun.
What other teams or types of people do you interact with on a regular basis?
My team focuses on the front-end side of trello.com, and we work closely with the back-end team to make sure the site is always running. We also work closely with designers who share the vision for what the site will look like. Occasionally we reach out to other Trello teams for input on certain topics. For example, we have some knowledge overlaps with the team that works on atlassian.com.
What do you value most about Atlassian’s company culture?
One of the things I most value about working at Atlassian is the ability to work from home. The flexibility is also unmatched—there’s no need to commute, I can take breaks whenever I need to, and I get to eat home-cooked meals.
The company’s unlimited paid time off policy is also great. Being able to spend time with my family during the holidays or take a day off whenever I’m not feeling well has had such a positive impact on my mental health.
What advice do you have for anyone applying to a job at Atlassian?
I recommend anyone applying to Atlassian to ask about how their interests outside of work may align with the company. For example, volunteering is incredibly important to me. When I first joined, I was surprised to learn that Atlassian has its own nonprofit volunteering initiative called Foundation. Over time, I became more involved with it, and I am now able to use our five paid days of Foundation leave off each year to work on education partnerships with nonprofit organizations to help students from historically disadvantaged communities earn a college degree.
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