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A grad’s diary: from being a Grad to guiding one

Pre-TWU 

Hey there! I’m Marta and soon I’ll be joining ThoughtWorks as a graduate developer in Madrid! Most recently, I’ve been freelancing after leaving my .NET developer job of two years. I’m excited to join ThoughtWorks because of its values, the opportunity to learn good software development practices, and plus I’ll get to meet ThoughtWorkers from around the world. 

At ThoughtWorks University (TWU)

I was supposed to attend TWU in Pune, India, but surprise: it’s 2020. To ensure all new joiners are safe as COVID-19 quickly spreads around the world, TWU pivots to a 100% remote program.

My first week with TWU is different from what I expected. My ‘batch’ is composed of grads from Spain, Chile, the UK, and Brazil. The Brazilian grads were lucky to have met before TWU started and they’ve already bonded… virtual India becomes virtual Brazil.

We’re around 70 grads total and I wonder how we’re going to interact with each other, but everything is already planned. There are four separate groups: developers, quality analysts, business analysts, and UX designers. The communication channels are an internal chat and several Zoom rooms for each group. We also have some sessions with the entire group, but the main communities are forged within these smaller groups. This is expected because everything is remote, so we spend most of our time with them and our two trainers in Zoom.

I wasn’t expecting to learn technical skills during TWU since I’m already familiar with the stack, but I’m surprised that here I have the freedom to try and learn from other roles. My team has six devs and a QA, but no BA or UX, so I have the chance to learn these roles. I’m lucky that our QA wants to be involved as a developer as well, and that I’m the person with the most interest in BA/UX tasks. 

From my point of view, being at TWU gives you two types of learning opportunities. 

  1. We’re working on what an ideal agile project should look like: we apply TDD, use our retrospectives to improve on each iteration, and re-plan our sprints when necessary. I think getting used to these practices is a strength that we can use in future projects.
  2. We ‘play’ in very realistic environments that are helpful for the grads who have never worked in this business before. We have a product owner (PO) with actual demands for the product and we schedule plannings, demos, dailies, retros, and other agile ceremonies like in any project.

Looking back on my experience before and after graduating from TWU, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the lifecycle of a product beyond just the developer perspective. 

Also, I’m also surprised not just on a technical but on a human level. This is the first time TWU has ever been 100% remote, and not by decision, but for ‘survival.’ Everybody (grads, trainers, organizers) has made an incredible effort to make this program possible despite distance barriers. Now I feel really close to people who are in different countries or timezones. Even if I have only met my teammates virtually, this has been the real success of this TWU batch.


Spanish grads


(Some) TWU grads

Post-TWU 

I was told that most of the grads may spend time at the beach right after graduating from TWU, so I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I’m being staffed just two days after TWU ends. 

My team is small and there are very good vibes between us. Initially, navigating the client relationship and their tech stack presents an enormous learning curve. 

Despite these challenges, I’m honing the new consulting skills I got on TWU  and they’re growing incredibly fast. During these months, I have the opportunity to learn a lot about consulting, learn technologies I’ve never heard of, and get involved in the product process from a broader perspective. 

Retrospective

Today, it feels like it’s been a lifetime since I first joined ThoughtWorks.

Since TWU, I now have the best mentor, I’ve had the chance to facilitate inductions for new joiners and conduct interviews, I took part in an inception and co-led a couple of workshops… and now I get to be a buddy! I feel like the circle of this year is closing and I’m looking forward to guiding my grad into this exciting new path and showing him how incredible it can be, even fully remote.

I can’t deny that the experience of starting a new job during a pandemic may have felt scary in the beginning, but I’ve always felt supported by my ThoughtWorks colleagues. And now that it seems the end of these strange times we’re living is getting closer, I’m really excited to return to ‘normal’ life, go to the Madrid office, build new relationships, continue learning, find a sponsor, and who knows, maybe even change roles.

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