A day in the life of... a tech lead
To celebrate Techie's day, we caught up with Jacob Walton to find out all about a day in the life of a tech lead.
How I start the day…When my alarm goes off, it triggers a series of ropes and pulleys which lift up the top of my bed. I then slide out the bottom, through a trap-door in the floor and into my kitchen via a pair of trousers. I land at the kitchen table, where I am dressed by robots whilst a machine fires jam onto a piece of toast as it pops out of the toaster and lands on my plate. I then wake from my dream to find my children sitting on my bed watching Wallace & Gromit on my phone and head downstairs via normal means to make coffee.
My typical day...As a tech lead, my days are generally filled with meetings. Stand-ups in the morning, one-to-ones with my team throughout the day, and various discussions around how we might solve a given challenge or put out the latest fire - and then make sure that particular fire never occurs again, of course!
I got the job…I joined Which? in 2014 as a front end developer. I then spent the next three months desperately trying to figure out what the hell I was doing as everyone else seemed to be ten times cleverer and more knowledgeable than me. I seemed to get away with it though as I managed to work my way up to tech lead and now manage a team of eleven front end developers, God help 'em!
What I love about what I do…What I love most about programming is that it provides an outlet for both the creative and the technical sides of me. People might not think of coding as creative but it is. Often there are numerous ways you could tackle a particular problem and coming up with a solution that not only works but works in the most efficient, elegant and (most importantly) maintainable way is really satisfying, especially when it draws on all the technical skills and expertise you’ve amassed over the years. As a manager I now get to share that joy with others, helping them develop their own skills and expertise and look at things from angles they might not have considered.
What I’d prefer less of...My commute. I travel an hour and a half each way and that’s when everything runs according to plan. When the trains are delayed as they have been a lot of late it’s no fun at all.
If I had an extra hour in the day...I’d spend it with my family of course! Or in the bath, hiding from my family. I do love a bath.
My top tips for your career…Stick at it, keep learning and believe in yourself. Programming is hard. There is so much to learn it can be overwhelming and it can often feel like everyone else is way ahead of you. You sit with a colleague and see them flying around their code editor using commands and keyboard shortcuts that you never knew existed. Just remember that it was all a mystery to them once too and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Anyone worth their salt will be more than happy to help. And don’t think for a moment that they don’t also find themselves banging their head against the wall sometimes, wondering why the hell their code won’t work. Obviously that‘s quite specific to careers in programming but the themes are universal. Imposter syndrome affects us all from time to time, but we all have the capacity to learn and grow. You just have to believe that you can...!