PML#001 - We have lift-off!

TL;DR - Just about managed to complete all of my goals for the week. Lots of bonus learning and achievements; gained clarity of what's to come. 🧘🏻‍♂️

Prefer this in audio format? Listen to this blog post on Racket.

It felt like it might never arrive, but I'm finally officially an employee at Postman. Thanks to everybody who's shared their enthusiasm and encouragement for my journey thus far. With my first week under my belt, it's time to begin establishing a regular format for these Postmanaut Mission Logs. I'll begin each week by recapping the goals that I set myself in the previous week, and how they went:

Last week's goals: 6/7 completed (with caveat for the 7th) 💪

  1. ☑️ Setup my new MacBook. Mostly completed last weekend. There were a lot of apps that I couldn't finish setting-up until I had access to my Postman email address and associated single sign-on details, but one of the benefits of having a truly global team is that one of my colleagues in India completed this for me early on Monday, while I was still asleep, and therefore pretty much everything has been a breeze. My kit hasn't gotten in the way once.

  2. ☑️ Get to know my new colleagues. There's no denying that this is harder when working remotely; without the ability to bump into people in corridors, there are fewer opportunities for chance encounters. However, I've had video, voice and text conversations with most of the senior figures in my squad, and a few of the other testers. I'm not one for creating a fuss, so in general my approach is always "ping me a message if you want a chat some time". This seems to be working so far.

  3. ☑️ Update all of my socials/profiles to reflect new status. My "new job" announcement on LinkedIn has had over 400 reactions so far, and is the most-viewed post that I've written on any platform, ever. (Well, except for a random Taylor Swift tweet that I made in 2019 which went uber-viral and gained over a million views, but I'm pretty sure that if Taylor Swift was writing my blog posts, that'd boost their viewership too.)

  4. Raise my first pull request. Technically, not completed, but primarily it's out of choice. As I'll explain in the next section, I've mostly been focused on absorbing documentation and having conversations; while I've spotted the odd typo which could be fixed with a PR, I don't want to sidestep processes which I don't even know are in existence yet. However, technically I've created some versioned content within the Postman application which other users have chosen to fork, so I think I've done okay on collaboration.

  5. ☑️ Book my two days' August holiday. Unsurprisingly, this was very easy, and as with many companies which use a variety of HR platforms and team calendars, by far the hardest part was finding where I should record the holiday so that my colleagues know that I'm going to be off. My first batch of leave is still a month away though, so there's plenty of time to learn how they'd prefer to receive that information.

  6. ☑️ Develop my new daily routine. Although our flexible working patterns mean that, by definition, there's no "normal day", I've come up with a pattern of how I plan to work on any given day. Loosely speaking, on days when my wife is at home for childcare, I'll start earlier so that I can finish earlier; and on days when I'm driving to do a nursery drop-off, I'll continue onwards for a session at the gym, meaning a slightly later start and finish. This fits well with my current squad, who are mostly based in India, though I'll retain availability on Slack in the evening, with the promise to myself that I'll flex the time back on the following day if I'm dragged into anything significant.

  7. ☑️ Understand and enumerate a list of all available employee perks. The HR and onboarding process has been really helpful for this. It's super-handy that we've got a UK-based HR representative who's able to offer locale-specific advice, and as a result I've got a bunch of things on my backlog to take care of. Mostly they'll need to wait til I start receiving a salary; I still haven't been able to fathom the date for monthly payroll cut-off, so I don't know whether I've got a paycheck coming next week or not (although I've already picked up my final salary from my previous job, which will see me through).

What else did I accomplish? 🏅

My goals for last week were mostly guesswork, as I didn't know quite what I was going to be getting involved with. That's all much clearer now; I have a designated squad (the Identity and Access Management team, which deals with much of the user management, authorization and privilege systems within Postman) and I've had an incredibly enthusiastic initial 1-2-1 with our CTO, who has very specific plans for my involvement in a new internal initiative which is beginning soon - I'm unbelievably excited to share more about that when it kicks off.

One of the benefits of a worldwide team which focuses on asynchronoous communication is that all important decisions and plans are heftily documented. I don't think that I've ever spent so much time in Confluence. And unlike a lot of other organisations which touch their wiki pages infrequently (resulting in the recording of consistently-outdated content), the Postman team surfaces and cross-references the information that matters the most.

Aside from getting to know my new domain, I've been trying to make excuses to converse with my new colleagues, by getting involved in impromptu activities throughout the week. Whenever somebody's said "can we just get a few fresh eyes on this", I've always been one of the first to volunteer, and I've caught some pre-live issues by doing so. As a tester, it's always beneficial to begin on a good footing by demonstrating the benefit that you can bring, rather than being perceived as the person to go to when everything's going wrong.

One of the initiatives that all new starters go through is the concept of a "First Collection". The company has fortnightly internal demo days, where people from all disciplines can share news, feedback and demonstrations on what they've been working on. All fresh Postmanauts are requested to put together a demo of how they've used Postman to solve a problem in their work or personal life; it's good for getting to know the newcomers, and it helps them to learn more about the product (not everybody necessarily has the depth of experience with Postman that I've had).

I started working on my "First Collection" on Wednesday evening, thinking that there wasn't any way that it'd be presentable by Thursday's demo session; but at the last minute, I decided to throw caution to the wind. I didn't want to wait another two weeks. I'd rather be known as the person who presented to the company on their fourth day. And it went pretty well; there was only one slight technical hiccup (the presentation included a pre-recorded video segment, but the sound wouldn't work on the video) but as I'd rehearsed, I was able to provide a live re-dubbing of the video.

What does next week have in store? 🗓

It's perhaps still too early to describe next week as a "typical week", but while I've spent much of this week absorbing information, I'm going to begin to be more involved with squad rituals from next week. I've picked the goals below - there are fewer than last week, because they're more substantial. It feels like 3-4 measured goals is sensible for a week; after all, I'm also going to be doing a lot of work that's not currently being tracked on this list.

So, without further ado, my week two goals:

  • Ensure I've had an introductory chat (even if just a DM) with every engineer on my team. While certain people have reached out to me this week, there've been others who I've not had the opportunity to cross paths with yet; hopefully this will happen naturally as I begin to discuss individual work items with them, but this is a reminder for myself to reach out to anybody who might get missed.

  • Make active, valuable contributions during sprint planning. Our team runs a weekly Monday-to-Monday cycle, meaning that I didn't participate in last week's session as I was otherwise occupied on day one. However, next week's meeting will be a good test of what I've learned so far; at the very least, I'm hoping not to be asking for the definitions of too many acronyms.

  • Test something which my team are actively working on. Again, this week has mostly operated on the priniciple of "come and grab me if you need me", meaning that work is currently passing through without my eyes seeing it. That's been fine thus far - without sufficient domain knowledge, my eyes would have been largely useless - but it's time to start getting hands-on.

  • Join the Testers' Hangout at least once. This is an extension of last week's "learn my new routine" objective. The Testers' Hangout is an open Google Meet call which testers (particularly those from the Ministry of Testing community) can drop into at any time, for a casual chat with whoever else is there. I'm still yet to get onto a call; I think that the flexibility of my new role may even allow me to block out some downtime to get involved with this on a regular basis.

So, there we have it! My first proper Mission Log is completed. There'll be another next week, but there'll be more content on this blog in the meantime (I've got a couple of glowing items on my Trello board that are just waiting to be turned into articles), so stay tuned. 👀