Before we begin, I think it would be quite nice for me to give a quick introduction. At the time of writing, I have been working at Alasco for nearly 3 months as a full-time software engineer. I came from the United Kingdom right after finishing my studies in Birmingham, and I am now a member of the Alasco engineering team, PCF. Being a member of team PCF means that we work to improve all processes that deal with the planning, controlling and forecasting of construction costs, hence the name.
A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer at Alasco
In my position as an Engineer at Alasco, I am part of creating a SaaS (Software as a Service) tool built to both digitalize and disrupt the construction industry. Writing about a ‘typical’ day at Alasco is quite a challenge, therefore a couple of points have been highlighted about this post.
Given that Alasco is a startup, brings me to my first point. Being a startup naturally means that the idea of an “average” day is thrown out of the window, the days (and even weeks) are pretty inconsistent, therefore hard to generalize.
The second point is that as a software engineer, where your daily work involves developing a product that could potentially be used by 1000+ people within the construction industry, one cannot have a “typical” day. As each day comes with its own set of challenges.
A Day in the Life
As stated earlier, there is no real typical day, but I will try to give you an overview of what might entail on the job in a single day. We will also be focusing on office life, rather than the working from home one, given that COVID-19 has pushed many of us to do the latter.
Alasco maintains a rather flexible working schedule, meaning that there is no well defined start time or home time. Engineers tend to be in the office between 09:00 and 09:45, in time for the daily stand-up conducted at 10:00 for each of the two agile teams, (teams PCF and Process). Here, all members have to answer the following questions:
- What did you achieve yesterday?
- What do you plan on achieving today?
- Is anything blocking you?
Daily stand-ups occur every morning and usually last between 10-15 minutes. Once that is finished, emails are checked and coffee is drunk. I guess in most professions coffee is vital in getting any meaningful work done, this is definitely the case as a developer. Once a decent amount of caffeine is swimming in our bloodstreams, the programming begins.
However on some mornings, there are more meetings than usual. To list a few:
- Weekly Kickoff - where all employees are given the latest updates within the company. Such as; new hires, company strategy and goals.
- Product review - where both engineering teams present their latest features to the rest of the company.
- Retro - as you may have guessed from the terminology used earlier, teams at Alasco are agile, hence sprint based. Which means that every two weeks we have to, as a team, break down what needs to be done in the upcoming sprint.
What marks the start of the afternoon and lunch is a message on Slack reading “lunch plans?”. From there, all colleagues with the objective of eating out, cluster into small groups, each with a food place in mind. Due to COVID-19 we can’t make use of the kitchen, fortunately however Leopoldstraße, where the Alasco office is located, has an abundance of food choices.
Typical food choices are usually:
- Salad Bowls
Once everyone’s had their fill, it’s back to work. Each developer is usually working on a story (such as a feature) or on bug fixes. This is done either on one’s own or in pairs. Once a story has reached completion, a pull request is made for other developers to review and any visible changes are assessed by the Product Owner. If everything has been approved and well tested, the story is then deployed to production.
All in all, the afternoon is very much like the morning, just a few hours longer. Some afternoons can have more meetings than others, however one which takes place everyday is the daily check-in, which is a reflection of the morning stand-up. This is where each team member re-evaluates the question, what do you plan on achieving today?.
On the other hand, if it’s not an afternoon meeting, it’s back to furthering the progress of new features or bug fixes. All this of course is made possible by our good friend Coffee. Who without, would make coding tasks much more strenuous. Having said this, the end of the day is usually signaled when caffeine no longer works as fuel for the mind, hence making problems that would have seemed easy in the morning, 10x harder.
As there is no fixed time to mark the end of the day, most employees leave around 18:00 and 18:30. Of course depending on the circumstances, whether they be personal or professional.
Back when it was safer to have a large group together, there was more of a social life at Alasco, typically on Friday evenings. An example of us coming together is where we would have drinks and catch-up with colleagues that we had missed during the week.
So this more or less wraps up what a day in the life of a software engineer at Alasco looks like. Although not every software engineer spends their day life this, we do hope that this gives you a pretty rough idea on how a day goes by as a developer at Alasco.