A Day in the Life: Ashley Joost (Principal Software Engineer)

What has been your journey in tech so far?

Initially, I had zero intention of becoming a software developer. I was a history and media studies major who happened to code as a hobby, making birthday cards for my friends in Flash with emo music and ActionScript and making websites on Tripod.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced moving into your current role? (and how you’re working to overcome the challenge)

In an agency, you’re often in green field projects, and in new products you can move at start-up pace. Moving back in-house I’ve been reminded of the challenges of evolving a long-lived product while also developing, maintaining, and modernizing a platform for software engineering.

Briefly describe your stack and workflow (the technologies and frameworks you use, how often you ship updates etc.)

My stack is Slack, Zoom, Confluence, and VS Code in that order. Most of my time is collaboration and the tools I use reflect that.

What does your typical day look like? (ways you interact with your team; tools or processes you use to organize yourself)

My days are a mix between working on what we’re delivering now and long term planning around our larger initiatives and platform strategies. I’ll go from team ceremonies like sprint planning and demos, to collaboration sessions with the front end principals to work on our platform plans.

What’s the best and worst part of your job?

When you’re a front end engineer, it’s easy to get addicted to the near instant feedback loop. It’s pretty exciting to make a change, have your browser reload automatically and see if what you just did works. It’s even more exciting when you merge your PR and in a few minutes you’re looking at your work in production.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

In my first job with lead in the title, my amazing project manager at the time talked often about the responsibility that comes with influence. She reminded me that as a lead, I set the example for how our team operates, performs, and works together. And I’ve taken that with me to every role since then.

What’s your most useful resource?

My RSS feeds. It used to be Google Reader (RIP) and now it’s Feedly Pro, but I have a list of sites I always read. It’s a combination of general tech industry news, tech policy, tech criticism, in the weeds web and mobile stuff, travel industry news, and good old fashion blogs. There’s always something in my Feedly that’s relevant to what I’m working on.

What is one thing you would like to learn, develop, or work on this year?

I’m still figuring out how to work remotely. Even though I’ve been at it for a year now in lockdown, I definitely haven’t mastered it. I’m one of those people who loves being in an office, so I’ve definitely struggled with different aspects of remote working. If anyone’s figured out how to run a workshop remotely, oh God, please share.

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