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A day in the life of a Junior Front End Engineer

Helen Kent
School of Code, Birmingham Graduate
・5 min read

I joined Purplebricks in October 2020 as a Junior Front End Engineer. Having worked as a Primary School Teacher for 10 years prior, I was absolutely ready for a change! I completed a full stack JavaScript development bootcamp with the School of Code in Birmingham at the start of 2020, and am now in my 7th month with Purplebricks. I can wholeheartedly say that embarking on a career change was definitely the right decision for me—I feel like a brand new person!

Cinderella gif

My days at Purplebricks can be quite varied, and depending on my calendar, can either be fairly meeting heavy, or pretty open—giving me a good chance to get stuck into some work. As I’m writing this on a Tuesday, we’ll go with a regular Tuesday.

8.45 — 9.15: Starting the day
I usually switch on between 8:45 and 9:00. I use this time before standup to catch up on my Slack messages, emails and check any outstanding PRs (Pull Requests) to see if I have any comments I need to resolve.

9.15—9.30: Squad standup
This is the time for our daily standup. Due to a re-shuffle, I’m about to move squad, but my current team meet at this time everyday on Teams to talk through our sprint backlog and find solutions to any problems and blockers. I enjoy our daily check-ins, and I think 9:15 is a good time to have them as it allows team members who need to do the school run to get back in time. Our squads are made up of Product Managers, UX, UI and Content Designers, QA Engineers (Automated and Manual) and Front End and Back End Engineers, so there is a great mix of people that I get to work with.

9.30 — 10.00: Reviewing PRs
The Front End team are responsible for reviewing each other’s code to ensure any errors are caught and best practices are followed. I’m trying to learn as much as I can each day, so if I have a bit of time in between meetings, I’ll often have a look through the Front End slack channel and read through some of the other engineers’ PRs to approve them. I’ll often ask questions if there are parts of the code I don’t understand, as I’m not quite able to make handy suggestions for code improvements yet!

10.00 — 11.00: Sprint Review
As today was the end of our sprint, we had our Sprint Review meeting. Key stakeholders and other members of the Digital team join us for a meeting where we run through the goal for our sprint, and what we achieved over the last 2 weeks. This is a good opportunity to get comfortable speaking about your work in front of a slightly larger audience. For most Sprint Reviews, I will add details of my contribution to the slide deck and then explain what the problem was that I was solving, usually accompanied by before and after visuals to aid comprehension.

11.00—12.00: 121 Meeting
Straight after our Sprint Review I have my fortnightly 121 meeting with my Engineering Manager. In order to prepare for this meeting, I have a reminder that pings at the end of each day — it reminds me to add to my achievements and notes page so that I have items to talk through during the meeting. I really appreciate having these regular catch-ups, as it keeps a focus on my progression. I’m working towards completing my Junior 1 skills matrix, so this is a chance to talk through what else I can add to it, if anything can be ticked off, and if my manager has suggestions for how I can achieve a particular success criteria. I’m not too far from completing Junior 1 now! 🥳.

Celebratory gif from The Office

12.00—13.00: Lunch time strolls
I usually have a walk around the Tamworth Castle Grounds at lunch and eat just after. Today was lemon & thyme chicken with broccoli. Delish!

13.00—14.00: Sprint Retrospective
Immediately after lunch it’s time for another sprint ceremony. This time it was my squad’s Sprint Retrospective. Our UX Designer, Dylan, has been running these sessions and he mixes it up pretty much every time — it’s always a nice surprise to find out what he has planned for us! This week it was ‘Mad, Sad, Glad & Shoutouts’ week. We use a digital whiteboard tool, mural.co, to collaborate and add notes about the things that made us feel mad, sad and glad for this sprint. Sprint Retros are a great chance to air frustrations, share successes, say thank you and make improvements ready for the next sprint.

14.00 — 17.30: Time to code
This is the first chunk of the day that I’ve had to get stuck into some code. During this time I usually have a Spotify playlist on quietly in the background. I find that time seems to fly when I’m working on code and I really enjoy it. I do a lot of Googling and sometimes reach out to other Front Enders to ask for advice if I come across challenges that require a little extra knowledge.

Woman asking for help gif

I’ve been really fortunate at Purplebricks that everyone I’ve come into contact with has been so lovely and helpful. My teammates are always around and happy to answer questions or give suggestions. I’m also lucky enough to have a couple of weekly ‘code chats’ — one with a Senior Front End Engineer, Josh, and one with a Mid Front End Engineer, Dan. With Josh, we’re diving into React hooks, and with Dan we talk about random things from my ‘I want to know this’ list. Over the last couple of weeks, we talked about Webpack and built the beginnings of a React project without ‘create-react-app’ using Webpack, and this week we’re going to talk about how one of our pipelines works — so all quite varied!

Whilst I’ve been at Purplebricks, I’ve worked on a good variety of different tasks. When I started, my first few PBIs (Product Backlog Item) were copy changes to the main marketing website to update our guidance on COVID-19. These were nice, small changes that helped me get to know the PR processes. Since then, I’ve worked on making changes to linting tools (and having to correct 900+ errors along with them), made my own toggle component for our shared component library, fixed bugs, contributed to a new app, and much more.

Most recently, I’ve been working on updating the UI for a section of our legacy codebase, ‘Uber’. I found this very challenging, as it is written with KnockoutJS and Razor files —frameworks that are totally different to everything I’ve learned so far!

I’ve really enjoyed my first seven months with Purplebricks. I joined at an exciting time for the Digital team amidst lots of positive changes. I’m looking forward to continue learning as much as I can, and seeing where I’ll be in another seven months time!

Discussion (8)

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dmahely profile image
Doaa Mahely

Great post, thanks for sharing Helen :) I'm wondering what a Junior 1 skills matrix is, is it specific to your company?

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helen8297 profile image
Helen Kent Author

Yeah its specific to my company. Our progression goes Junior 1, Junior 2, Mid 1, Mid 2, Senior 1, Senior 2. We have a matrix which is a group of statements you have to meet like 'can write semantic html correctly'. So i've almost completed Junior 1, almost there!

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krishnakakade profile image
krishna kakade

great story inspiring :)

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helen8297 profile image
Helen Kent Author

Thank you!

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sophiabrandt profile image
Sophia Brandt

Wow, I remember your first post when you started the bootcamp last year.
Kudos!
Thanks for sharing your post, very helpful for people trying to break into tech.

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helen8297 profile image
Helen Kent Author

Ah wow, what a memory! Thank you :)

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minemartin profile image
martin_mine

your story is inspiring.
love those GIFs.

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taufiqtab profile image
Taufiq Abdullah

Awesome day !