Your first job out of school is often really hard – you have little real world experience outside of internships, Imposter Syndrome kicks in hard, and more often than not you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. Its also the most fun time – you have tons of energy, you’re eager to learn and yearning to solve hard, interesting problems.
I joined Cask straight out of University. After a day long interview process (which I was certain I had done terribly on), they offered me a job on the spot and I accepted within a day. The people I’d spoken to loved what they did, and that really spoke to me about what kind of culture the company had cultivated.
My first project was working on Security features for the platform. I was a bit surprised to be working on such a core feature so early on, but the Senior Engineer I was working with really helped me acclimatize myself and come up to speed. There was constant guidance, both technical and non-technical, and I always had someone to bounce ideas off of. Over the next few months I hit my stride as I quickly became a lot more technically adept.
Probably my favorite part of the technical workflow at Cask is code reviews. They take code reviews seriously – not a single line of code gets committed unless it’s approved by someone. As a newbie, this was certainly the best way to learn. I had engineers with decades of experience looking at my code, pointing out mistakes, and helping me come up with better designed and more optimal solutions. I had several decades of experience distilled and at my disposal and I took full advantage of it.
After a few months I was asked to lead a team to build a new feature. I use the term “lead” loosely since the entire team is extremely collaborative and they have a fairly flat structure and there’s no real sense of hierarchy. But it was my responsibility to gather requirements, come up with a design, figure out a weekly plan, and execute it. I worked with another engineer and an intern, and over the next few months we built the feature almost entirely from scratch. It was an extremely interesting experience, one that most junior engineers don’t get, and I learned a ton – how to design and create reliable systems, delegate tasks, and get the most out of your teammates.
Every startup claims this, but the culture at Cask really is amazing. Everyone is perpetually happy, always helpful, and we end up doing a ton of fun activities – from food trucks, to laser tag, to go karting. There’s never a dull day!
My year at Cask was certainly the most intellectually fulfilling experience I’ve had. I worked with some incredibly smart (and fun) people, including core contributors to the Hadoop ecosystem, becoming a much better programmer in the process. The skills I developed at Cask was a huge stepping stone to join a founding team with just a few people and take me one step closer to realizing my dream of starting a company. I couldn’t imagine a better first job.