Day In The Life: Meet Greenhouse Engineer Lauren Vicknair

This series is a part of the Jopwell/Black Enterprise partnership aimed at featuring talented millennials in exciting jobs

(Image: Luan Luu)
(Image: Luan Luu)

This article originally appeared on The Well, Jopwell’s editorial hub. 

Lauren “LV” Vicknair
Quality Assurance Engineer, Greenhouse
New York, NY
Twitter: @greenhouse

7:30am: Wake-up time! I tell myself I’m awesome and that I’m going to beast it today, and then I hop on the train to the gym. I read a couple pages of Metaprogramming Ruby 2 and then switch to music, which gets me through almost every part of my day.

(Musical selection: Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color)

8:30am: Greenhouse’s old office was right across the street from my gym, but as a growing startup (we just celebrated our 200th hire), we’ve had to move into a bigger space in Union Square. It’s a great “problem” to have. I’m recovering from a knee injury, so I stick to weight lifting and doing some heavy-bag work this morning.

(Musical selection: A$AP Ferg, ALWAYS STRIVE AND PROSPER)

10:00am: I get into work and catch up on emails before checking out the latest headlines on IGN, The Daily Beast, ESPN, and Product Hunt. The Los Angeles native in me keeps my fingers crossed that Dodgers are still leading the National League West.

(Music selection: Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue)

10:30am: After seeing what meetings are on my calendar for the day, I check my JIRA board. JIRA is the project management software that the engineering team uses to track our projects. As a quality assurance (QA) engineer, I’m responsible for making sure our new features are bug free and fitting in nicely with the rest of our product.

(Music selection: Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered)

11:30am: I have my first stand-up of the day – a five-minute meeting where the QA team gathers to run through what each person is working on and whether you’ve got anything blocking you from completing your task (a.k.a. “blockers”). I tell the group that I’m working on robmail.dat (code name for our new calendar system) and that I am blocked by the infrastructure team that needs to configure an environment for us to test in.

11:45am: Back at my desk, Slack – the group chat tool we use to communicate across the company – is keeping me entertained. Between GIFs and emojis, we are debating the best starter in #pokemon channel. Another calendar notification pops up reminding me that it’s time for another stand-up – this time with the entire engineering department. I started at Greenhouse when we were a team of 25, and at that size, everyone would speak during daily stand-ups. Now we’ve streamlined this by announcing any cross-team blockers and then breaking up into our smaller groups to talk details. We recently acquired a company called Parklet and divided our operations into two: Greenhouse Onboarding and Greenhouse Recruiting. I meet with Greenhouse Recruiting, running through a couple product questions and updating them on the latest estimates for completion of features and updates they’re asking about. In QA, my job is about making sure it all works.

12:00pm: Lunch break. In an attempt to be more efficient with my spending (because, my goodness, New York is so expensive), I’ve been trying out MealPass, a service that allows me to pay a flat fee and pick up lunch at a participating nearby restaurant every day. It comes out to about $5-6 a day, which may or may not be cheaper than taking my own lunch … But hey, I’m lazy. I pick up today’s selection – a curry dish from a place called Laut – and sit down next to Amanda on our CS team. I like eating in our rec room and hanging out with everyone. Even as we get bigger, food brings us all together.

12:30pm: Grind mode! I take another look at the JIRA board and start working through “cards” (JIRA breaks down all actionable tasks into specific “cards” that you can check off as “complete” as you work). The idea is that any given card contains a description of a feature, the acceptance criteria necessary to complete it, and any potential pictures or mocks that can help engineers complete the feature accurately. I arrange my cards in order of priority based on what was discussed in the morning stand-ups.

(Music selection: Spotify Playlist: Epic Music by Dylan Royce)

2:00pm: It’s 11:00am on the West Coast, which means it’s time for stand-up with the Greenhouse Onboarding team. I’ve been manning the QA needs for our newly acquired company, and since their entire team is still located in SF, we hop on a Hangout to run through what work needs to be done.

(Music selection: Jimi Hendrix, Axis, Bold as Love & Electric Ladyland)

2:50pm: I’m so deep in my work (and music) that I nearly forget that I have to go interview a candidate who’s in the office applying for a sales development role. Luckily, Greenhouse uses our own applicant tracking software (shameless plug), and once the calendar notification pops up alerting me of the interview, all I need to do is log into Greenhouse in order to quickly access all the relevant background on the candidate. I look over her résumé and a few questions I’m supposed to ask. I head over to the conference room to meet the candidate and do the interview. I take these very seriously. Qualified candidates are great, but it’s also really important that anyone we bring on not only fits into but contributes to the amazing culture that we have.

3:45pm: The interview is over with just a second to spare before I head into a diversity training/onboarding session I’m running for all Greenhouse’s the new hires over the last month. As a member of Greenhouse’s diversity committee, I’ve done this training a bunch of times and know the slides like the back of my hand, but I still very much enjoy it. We want all new employees to walk away from the onboarding experience with a good understanding of our culture and values and what we expect from employees.

4:30pm: I get back to working through JIRA cards. I have trouble understanding a particular card and go over to the developer so that we can sit down together to bang it out. I find some issues with the feature and send it back over to him with notes on what to fix. Onto the next card.

(Music selection: Arctic Monkeys, AM)

5:30pm: I wrap up my work with the Recruiting team and switch back over to supporting the San-Francisco-based Onboarding team (their afternoon is just getting started). Because of the distance and communication barriers (I can’t just walk up to them), I work with one specific developer at a time to run through all our JIRA cards and get any questions answered in real time.

(Music selection: Aesop Rock, The Impossible Kid)

6:30pm: The day is coming to an end, but the Onboarding team wants to release a batch of all their newly ready features into production. I do a regression i.e. I test the entire app to make sure everything still works with the new features. It looks good, and I give them the greenlight to push the release into production. I look at the Test Automation board, writing some tests to make sure everything’s in working order. Tests are pieces of code that test other code, and they help us ensure that the new code we’re introducing isn’t breaking anything we’ve already pushed.

(Music selection: Hiatus Kiayote, Choose your Weapon)

7:30pm: And that’s a wrap. I pop open a beer in the rec room and join a few members of Greenhouse’s boardgame club (an open group that meets in the office after work to, well, chill and play board games). We play 7 Wonders, and I lose, as usual. 🙁

(Music selection: Whatever mix of Fantasy X Soundtrack and jazz our honorary office DJ, Luan, is playing through the rec room speaker. I eventually take over DJ duty, transitioning into an old-school medley that includes Curtis Mayfield, Rick James, Bobby Womack, and Sly and the Family Stone)

8:30pm: I head home to Harlem. It’s been a long day, and to give my mind a break, I play with the Nintendo DS emulator I just downloaded on my phone.

(Music selection: Paolo Nutini, Caustic Love)

9:30pm: Back in my apartment, I throw a steak on the grill and catch up with my roommates. After I eat, I shift gears to work on some personal projects for a bit. Lately, I have been working on this financial web app. Can’t share details just yet.

11:00pm: I shower and retire to some Netflix, watching a few episodes of Erased before I fall asleep. It has been a great day. I hit the pillow dreaming about beasting it again tomorrow.

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