From Intern to Junior Engineer, 9 things I learnt about Gousto in my first 90 days
At the end of 2020, after much deliberation I decided to leave a 7 year career in digital marketing and pursue one in software engineering. I took the General Assembly SEI course (a 12 week immersive software engineering bootcamp) and shortly afterwards joined Gousto as an intern in their Tech Talent Academy. Here are the 9 things I learnt about Gousto in my first 90 days.
I had to start with this as it might be the best slack channel in the galaxy, let alone Gousto. To many, the slack notification sound may evoke an unwanted Pavlovian response but at Gousto, if you’re in the office and you see a notification from the free food group you are probably scrambling to see what delicacy is available from the Gousto kitchens.
A dedicated slack channel where our collective of recipe developers give away some of their creations to the fastest finger. Talk about perks of the job?
A culture of growth
Having a workforce that can up-skill themselves, and are in a state of continuous learning has shown to be a competitive advantage that can increase retention and employee well-being.
Gousto has a whole team, and online portal dedicated to ensuring employees have access to resources to help them develop. If you can’t find a course that suits, each employee has a learning budget to use that recurs each year.
If that isn’t enough for you, every other Friday the entire day is dedicated to learning a new skill, or refining one you already have. Engineers are free to pick a problem, technology or idea to work on which doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to their current domain.
My previous career in marketing was the catalyst that first sparked my interest in development. I was working with a team of web developers to deliver digital products and marketing campaigns on behalf of our clients. When I finally decided to make the move, I was really keen on still working in a department or company where I could use the skills I had already learnt and very much saw this next chapter as up-skilling rather than a hard career switch.
At Gousto, we work in Tribes, with each Tribe dedicated to a particular goal, even during the interview process it was made clear that due to my background I would sit in Growth which was music to my ears and showed me clearly that my previous experience was of value which really confirmed that the path I had taken was correct.
When first presented with this particular acronym, My naive self thought someone had spelt Okra incorrectly, however the presentation I was about to receive was not about a small green African vegetable.
At Gousto, all squads have clearly defined domains and business goals. Gousto uses objectives & key results (OKR’s), a collaborative framework for setting goals, tracking progress, creating alignment and building engagement towards measurable goals.
What was evident early on, is how visible the goals are and how even a junior can quickly get an understanding of the measure and impact of their work. As a result, it quickly created a sense of ownership and shared accomplishment for the tickets I was working on.
Importance of mentorship
Built into Gousto’s culture is a well-documented mentorship program where aspiring engineers can begin to cultivate their leadership skills, by offering to mentor a junior.
In addition, the program is designed so junior engineers can get valuable pairing time with senior more experienced engineers to offer advice on difficult-to-grasp concepts, code reviews and general career advice.
I took advantage of this, and was paired with an incredibly experienced senior engineer. We meet each week to set tasks and explore areas that are crucial to my development. These sessions have been invaluable to my learning, growth and general confidence and something I would highly recommend all developers to pursue.
No stupid questions
Gousto is a business that is scaling and growing at an extremely fast pace. With that comes lots of new faces, problems and questions.
Because of this, there is an open culture to questioning decisions and all employees at all levels are encouraged to ask questions and get clarity on anything they are uncomfortable with.
This can be done through anonymous surveys, brought up during a monthly tech all hands on meeting, or by emailing the leadership team directly.
The tech team at Gousto is also expanding at an increasing rate, just this year we have welcomed over 150 starters and are planning another 250 by the end of 2022.
At Gousto we have a team of platform engineers that are tasked with continuously improving the deployment processes, environments and build times so that all developers can release code to production with the least amount of friction.
In my first week, as a junior, I was able to release code into the production site and this is a testament to their ongoing work and support to improve the overall developer experience.
At Gousto every two weeks engineers that work on a particular domain, e.g. web all come together to discuss the state of the development pipeline, new technologies or libraries they may be using and general discussion on sharing best practices.
These town hall style meetings are great to discover what problems our counterparts are facing and more importantly how they are solving them.
One of the things that attracted me to Gousto, is their commitment to reducing food waste. After I had joined, it became clear that the commitment is more than just a slogan but baked into the company’s growth strategy and permeates everything we do here.
It’s been just under a year since I left my career in marketing, since then I’ve completed a bootcamp, and now joined Gousto as full-time as an engineer within the customer care team, as a result of the switch I couldn’t be more excited about what the next few years will bring.