This is a article from my "Dev Chats" series where I speak to an awesome developer or techie every week or so. You can read more here. Let me know in the comments if you find these useful to you!
My love of storytelling: Neopets circa 2001 (HTML/CSS) and RPG Maker.
I wanted to create backstories, colourful sites and guilds for my Neopets, and Neo had HTML tutorials on the site. RPG Maker taught me global variables, loops and if statements without me knowing it! I didn’t actually learn a programming language (shout out to Turbo Pascal) until the end of high school.
I’m essentially a technical consultant. My role is part of a Google job family called Technical Solutions Consultants (TSCs), who are people who have technical backgrounds, but also want to work with clients more directly. I look after external partners who are integrating with the Google Assistant, using the Actions on Google platform.
My day to day involves troubleshooting technical problems, writing code samples, a little bit of project management on the partner side, and communicating partner needs to Sales and Engineering. Different partners require different support, so it’s very varied work. I’m super excited to travel in Europe to promote the platform in the coming months. I also have a 20% project with a different team doing some front-end web development.
Overwhelming. Like the rest of London, there’s a lot going on all the time. Meetups, conferences, code camps, coworking spaces, incubators.. There are a lot of interesting startups that pull talent from the behemoth that is the London financial industry and the “Big Five” of tech companies.
I had a lot more 1:1 mentorship at smaller companies, and it’s a cool feeling to know the names of everyone in the company. It felt more familial and I felt more supported, particularly as a junior developer. The impact and scope of what I was involved in was national, rather than global. Small companies can still be political, but it’s not as convoluted and I didn’t have a management “chain” per se. I dealt with designers, testers, product managers and developers.
Now, because of where my team is positioned and the size of Google the stakeholders are marketing, multiple engineering teams, multiple product managers, business development, policy/lawyercats, linguists… all in different countries and offices. It’s cool to be part of something big, but a much bigger organisational challenge. I don’t think I have a preference, different sizes of tech company have different lessons to teach you.
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be where you are, and doesn’t mean you’re incapable. Honestly, I’m still learning this! I think it’s tough because the thought of asking for help can exacerbate imposter syndrome.
Build and diversify your network: meet people from as many walks of life as possible, from different areas in technology, develop empathy, find out about the many different roles that go into successful software. If you’re not naturally skilled at meeting people or making connections, it’s worth strengthening this muscle, it’ll take time, just practice and flex it :)
Study study study, practice using as many mediums as you can (whiteboard, paper, Google Doc, IDE, command line, website). Our interview style is pretty well documented and you can read through a lot of accounts online - you may know people who interviewed! Talk to them, but ultimately don’t be discouraged by rejection. I didn’t get in first try. You can take another path, build your skills, and if it still fits your career goals, re-apply. Take note that interview processes, especially Google’s, are still inherently flawed and “best effort”. Reversing a linked list isn’t necessarily going to speak to your ability to work with other humans on software. We’ll ask you about algorithms, data structures, and potentially language features for Software Engineering roles. My interview had roleplay troubleshooting/debugging sessions, describing how aspects of the web work, some behavioural “what would you do if..” as well as the tech interview.
_ Practical _
- Gold standard tech interview prep: Cracking the Coding Interview - Gayle Laakmann McDowell
- My beloved 2nd year algorithm textbook: Steven S. Skiena, The Algorithm Design Manual (or any good Algorithm book)
- Websites: Hackerrank.com, interviewbit.com
- The interviewer anti-loop/getting into Google Steve Yegge blog post
- Jacob Kaplan Moss (Django/Heroku) - Pycon keynote 2015
We need help to make the Assistant better! Google is running a competition to create your own Action on Google and submit it by August 31st 2017. $10,000 cash money, tickets to Google I/O 2018, and Google Homes up for grabs. You can get something up and running in a matter of days, learn about conversational design, and create a small coding project for yourself. I'm also on twitter, @roseanna_g.