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Starting at zauberware

... was on my agenda for the beginning of July. I had just finished my Master studies in Sweden when my first real job as a software developer was awaiting me. But instead of receiving stiff handshakes I was welcomed by a couple of GIFs in our zauberware workplace, the "office facebook" and coffee place substitute. Welcome to working remotely!


Using my time efficiently

The introduction was not the only aspect of remote work that was refreshingly fuss-free as I discovered in my first weeks. In fact, it does not feel like a lot has changed between studying and going online to work. It is almost as if I just started another course project - only that now I can skip the three weeks of literature review and can go straight ahead to the coding part (thank God for that!).

It’s still mostly me who decides how my day is structured, apart from a few video conferences that have replaced the mandatory lectures. I can program at times that I know I work most efficiently and use the time in between to recharge my energy. And why should I not sit down again in the evening after dinner to code more focused than it would ever be possible for me in the afternoon with a full stomach after lunch?!

Work where others make vacation

Instead, I can take a break and enjoy a coffee with my Icelandic family. I’m not Icelandic, but my boyfriend is and since our studies in Stockholm we have been flying back and forth between Germany, Sweden and Iceland to stay in contact with friends and family. And thanks to my remote job, I’m lucky enough to be able to work in the country of fire and ice, enjoying strong coffee and a snúður (an amazing Icelandic cinnamon bun with sugar glazing, tastes best with slightly salted butter) while becoming a rails zauberer. That mission is still in progress, but thanks to pair programming lessons, the assignment of tasks with rising difficulty and the, in general, great coaching from my patient colleague Simon, I’m slowly getting comfortable with our on-going rails projects.

What else is awesome about working remotely

I can only speak for myself but up until now, working remotely is easier than expected. If I like my work and find it interesting, it is not difficult for me to stay focused. Nevertheless, I also think that the virtual working environment that zauberware created helps to organise myself. Daily stand ups and weekly meetings with everyone make sure to not lose - or in my case: to establish - contact to other’s work and the overall progress.  And when you are stuck, writing a message to start an online pair programming session is maybe even faster than rolling your chair over to someone else’s desk - and the urge to snitch back your keyboard because you really want to be coding too, isn't even an issue if you only share the screen to begin with.

A Newbie tip

Unfortunately, remote work does not come with an automatic solution to all the obstacles you encounter at work. Everyone who starts to work on a completely new topic with a new framework and a new programming language knows, that there are so many new things to learn everyday! It's easy to forget half of it again which is why I like to keep a working journal. That is a document where I shortly note a topic I got stuck with and the solution I found for it. One example from last week would be 

"I expected build_avatar to be a method of the user model but couldn’t find its definition anywhere - Rails automatically generates helper methods if we have a relation between objects in the database. User has_one avatar, which is why we got this method for free." 

It only takes a short time to write this down but it can save a lot of time when being stuck with something similar again. There are so many, apparently trivial things you learn in the first weeks that otherwise are hard to remember.


Picture: Enjoying the Icelandic summer during the afternoon break (I really couldn't find an erupting volcano in the neighbourhood but I promise I tried. I hope the weather and my Icelandic sweater are authentic enough.)

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