A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer: Remote Office

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Software Engineers at Terakeet are dedicated to designing and implementing Terakeet’s proprietary in-house enterprise systems.

Every Software Engineer has expertise in building and evolving sophisticated Rails applications that are used internally to manage a variety of Terakeet’s business processes. These systems are always advancing to support new features and technologies, and they contribute to Terakeet’s competitive advantage in the influencer marketing industry. This is a highly skilled and innovative role which offers both technical and leadership opportunities with the benefits of working remotely or in-office.

This is the second of a three-part series introducing three of the members of Software Engineering team. Meet Breno Da Mata, our remote Software Engineer, as he highlights “A Day in the Life” of a remote Software Engineer at Terakeet.

In April 2016, I had the opportunity to join Terakeet as a remote Software Engineer. In early 2016, I began seeking remote positions at the same time Terakeet decided to pursue remote engineers, so the timing was fortuitous. When I was considering Terakeet, it was the opportunities that RJ Licata highlighted and the work they were accomplishing that appealed to me the most.

Prior to working at Terakeet, I worked as a Software Engineer and later as a Project & Engineering Manager for Adam Plus Company, a small firm from NYC operating 4 ventures. I developed software, designed UI/UX, managed a small team of developers and designers, made countless investor decks, and traveled across the US and UK pitching our ventures to investors. Preceding Adam Plus I was living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where I was a Software Engineer Analyst at Accenture building and maintaining manufacturing execution systems.

I joined Accenture after receiving my BCompSc from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC-Minas) in Belo Horizonte. It was during my time at PUC-Minas that I began learning Ruby on Rails, the framework and programming language of which Chorus, Terakeet’s internal enterprise software, is built on. I have used it extensively for professional use and side projects ever since.

I’ve lived in many cities and traveled extensively. I set out to work for a company that was not only innovating with new and exciting technology but one that would also provide me with the opportunity to work from anywhere. Terakeet has proven to be much more than that.

A Day in the Life of a Software Engineer: Remote Office

As Jason Fried and David H. Hansson highlight in their 2013 book, Remote: Office Not Required, one of the rules on how to collaborate remotely is “Thou Shalt Overlap.” Luckily I’m in the same time zone as Terakeet’s HQ, so I’m typically working the same hours as on-site team members. When it’s 8 am, I’ve got a decent brew of homemade coffee ready as I turn on my computer to start work. Mornings are easy going as I catch up on company communications. The engineering department holds a weekly meeting where we take turns telling the group what we are working on– the challenges, new ideas, and progress. Being remote, I join the meeting via Google Hangouts video conference with the four other remote engineers and any employees that may be utilizing our flexible work schedule to work from home as well.

Working remotely requires an established routine which is an underrated value of working on-site with the standard 9-5 hours. After my morning update on emails, Slack, Hangouts, and Podio, I write down the day’s main objectives– the ol’ to-do list. In general, my day is typically spent analyzing, programming, testing, and writing. My routine consists of two, four-hour blocks of time with a long break in between. During my break, I like to cook, have lunch, and, weather permitting, walk outside. After recharging my batteries, I’m ready to tackle the second half of work. In the evenings I like to exercise, catch up with friends and family, and watch movies and tv shows with my girlfriend Caroline. We are currently on Season 4 of Game of Thrones, so no spoilers, please.

The Engineering Team’s Rite of Passage and Projects

The first assignment as a Terakeet Engineer is to implement and deploy a small feature to Chorus. From what I was told, it is sort of a tradition. Fellow engineer Usman Asif joined Terakeet on the same day I did, so we teamed up for this rite of passage. It was a great introduction to the department’s dynamics. In order to accomplish department objectives, we form teams to tackle each one. In every project or assignment, we get to work and collaborate with different team members.

There are also company-wide projects in which we get to work with colleagues from other departments. I had such opportunity early on to work with Curtis Weyant, Jonas Sickler, and Craig Lockwood, the only software developer on the team. I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues, engineers and otherwise, and what stands out is the shared values of entrepreneurship and invention.

Currently, I’m a part of Team 3 where the main objectives are to abate the backlog and support our enterprise software users. It’s great because with the users being my colleagues, we can chat each other, which is often better than traditional bug reports.

Communication and Collaboration

Cross-department communication is fundamental for the success of Terakeet’s projects. We are constantly getting feedback, questions, bug reports, and possible feature ideas, so sharing and discussing these items further drive our efforts. We mostly use Google Hangouts or a video call because of its great screen-sharing feature, making collaboration and troubleshooting a breeze.

The engineering team also uses Slack constantly, it’s such an efficient tool for collaboration that it’s the go-to for communication most of the time. And it’s not just shop-talk, the usual off-topic is welcomed on the #random channel. We take advantage of asynchronous communication because it doesn’t require constant attention. That allows us to dive deeply into solving a problem for hours without interruption.

For real-time collaboration, we use Screenhero, a fast screen sharing and voice call service perfect for troubleshooting and pair-programming.

Indeed, Terakeet has proven to be much more than just a remote position. It has given me the opportunity to work on important and challenging projects with many intelligent people.

I’ve had a wide arrange of commutes, the shortest being an hour each way. Before moving to New York City, I commuted by train for months from Connecticut. My train ride was two hours each way, totaling 20 hours a week!

Terakeet’s work-life balance has made this transition from on-site to off-site certainly worthwhile. I now make the most out of the time saved from commuting. There’s more work to do, more ideas to test, more books to read and more life to live outside of a railcar.

Next week, read the third post in our series about Craig Waterman to gain insight of a typical “Day in the Life” of a Software Engineer working in Terakeet’s office.