I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned just in the small time I’ve been at Buffer, where I started last week.
This could be advice for anyone joining a new team – and I’ll try to keep it punchy and to the point.
Do your research
Before you start, find out what technologies you’ll be working with. This will help you hit the ground running, and means you can talk on near the same level as those who are intimate with the codebase. I was familiar with all the technologies Buffer use except Backbone.js, so in the few days before I started I read tutorials and worked through some examples. Fortunately, I haven’t yet touched the Backbone stuff!
This should be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway: if you’re going to be working on a product, you’d damn well better be using it, or at least know what it does and why.
As soon as I had access to the repositories, I cloned them and dived into the code. I was looking for important things like dashboard, button, account, settings.
Search for anything you know is a keyword within your product, find it and take a look. Get an idea of how data flows through the application. Make a note of anything you don’t understand or want to know more about, it’ll be useful later.
You don’t have to learn the whole thing straight away, and honestly, you won’t be able to, but getting a general overview is invaluable.
Set small goals. Complete them.
I learned this the hard way. After a hugely productive first couple of days, I saw the deployment of my first Buffer code; I’d rewritten the Buffer button, with a few million impressions per-day. It went out, it worked; I was ecstatic. I could take on the world.
I had two highly unproductive days, felt terrible and emailed Joel & Leo. While writing the email I figured it out; small goals. Leo was fantastic and emailed me the next day with a specific task. In a few hours it was done and I was onto the next thing.
Aim for the achievable.
More to come…
This is just the beginning of my time at Buffer, and there’s a huge amount I’ve yet to learn. Joel, Leo & Tom are awesome: dedicated, enthusiastic and talented (a dangerous combo!), and it’s fantastic to be part of that great team.