My name is Marta and I joined LaterPay’s remote team as a Frontend Software Engineer around one month ago. You know how it is; starting a new gig is stressful in itself and that’s why onboarding is so important. I had a great onboarding and I decided to share my experience. This post was written originally for the internal folks that are starting at LaterPay but hopefully you can benefit too from learning more about what it’s like to join LaterPay.
Hey there! You must be new. And you’re probably wondering how you can make the best impression on your first day. Just like I did, you’re probably thinking that you should already be up to speed with a running repository, reviewing pull requests and shipping a new task tomorrow at the latest.
We’re not expecting you to know it all right away. Take your time! You first need to swim through the pile of emails that are ready waiting for you in your inbox. All the accesses that you’re going to need the next following days and weeks. And if you find yourself not having access to, let’s say, BrowserStack, just fire away a question at a relevant channel (don’t worry, they’re categorized) and someone will be right there to help you. Slack is our virtual office so make sure to browse through the social channels to start creating your network. For example, the first channel I joined was #social-pets. Don’t judge me, I’m always eager to meet other people’s pets.
The first days you might perceive to be a bit slow. Focus on navigating the channels, have virtual cappuccinos with people to get to know them and take notes. I took a lot of notes in my first weeks. I may never go back to them again but it’s a great way to retain information and you’ll get into the habit of writing things down. Documentation is key at LaterPay.
As part of my onboarding process I had to complete a Jira epic that involved gathering insights from other people on how to be new at LaterPay and you’re probably assigned something very similar. I was asked to talk to my teammates and ask them for advice on how to get around the company when you’re new and, in general, to get to know them a bit better. At LaterPay human relationships are acknowledged and encouraged because we understand that working with people that you took the time to get to know is easier and more productive. Make sure to build that psychological safety.
That should be it for your first week. You’ll have a lot of onboarding meetings as well (check your Google Calendar) ranging from Product introduction, 1on1 with your onboarding buddy, 1on1 with your line manager, 1on1 with your Tech Lead, intro with Engineering Managers and, depending on the team you’re joining, intro to your tech stack and the like. Prepare yourself mentally for much socializing and if that isn’t your thing don’t sweat it and just divide it between the weeks so that it’s comfortable for you.
In the second week you might start feeling itchy about the fact you haven’t coded in a while. That should be your cue and you might want to start familiarizing yourself with the codebase and ask your team what would be the best task to start working on. In my case, I was lucky because my team was in the process of rolling out a new product. I could contribute by doing Quality Assurance and at the same time it was a massive learning experience for me. By doing QA you can learn about the different workflows of your application and explore various use cases it is satisfying. You may also find a bug or two before rolling it out to production. I can’t recommend this method enough but it depends a lot what stage your team is on at the moment. On the other hand, you can always pretend that you’re trying to find bugs and that will also work. Another great way to get you up to speed is to ask for a task that is preferably covering a lot of the product so you can get exposed to a lot of context. But, rest assured, it will still take a while to get the full picture and that’s OK.
A great piece of advice I got from my colleagues was to pretend to be a merchant and try to integrate with LaterPay products. This way you’ll be able to test different ways of integration, understand how different pieces of the product work together and help you connect the dots. During my first month, we had All Hands. All Hands is a week-long get-together of the whole team that takes place twice a year at LaterPay where we’ve got work-related sessions but also water-cooler gatherings. This year it all took place remotely due to obvious reasons (it’s year 2020 and we’ve got global pandemic). Two of the sessions were about acting as if you’re a publisher and trying to integrate with a product via Connector Script and Wordpress. It is an insightful exercise and will give you an entry to the rabbit hole to which you want to jump down to; it’ll make you dive into documentation, code and will spark many a-ha moments. Don’t hesitate to share your feedback afterwards if you decide to have a go at it.
Pair-debugging and pair-programming are always a good idea but especially when you’re a new team member. It will help you understand the context of the product and you’ll be able to follow the stream of thoughts of your pair-debugger that will trigger a lot of questions you may have.
Feel free to treat this manual as an inspiration. What worked for me might not necessarily work for you. Just remember to take it easy, reach out to people, seek out knowledge and you’ll be fine 🙌
Are you a bullet points type of person? So am I. Here’s a TL;DR version of this post:
- Join #social- channels 🐶 🥐
- Connect with your teammates ☕
- Connect with people from your functional area 👩🔬👨🔬
- Browse Confluence 📎
- Browse LaterPay docs 📃
- Over-communicate 🖊
- QA the product 🐞
- Coordinate with your team what first tasks they recommend you to have a look at 👩💻
- Integrate with LaterPay using various ways of integration — talk to your PM or a tech lead and they can help you get started 🚀