It’s been one month since I left China for the first time in my life. Back in Shanghai, I had been a long-time follower of former Apple Chief Evangelist Guy Kawasaki’s talks online. One day I heard he had joined a new startup called Canva, and not long after that I came across a job advert online. I decided to apply, and before I knew it I was boarding a plane for Sydney.
I thought now would be a good time for me to write honestly about some things that surprised me during this month and how things are going now.
Things that surprised me
There are lots of things that didn’t surprise me at all. There’s a real startup environment and a great engineering culture here (I sensed that from the blog articles my current colleagues have published, and the tech talks they’ve given) and the product is one that I am personally interested in. There were also some nice surprises though!
My mentor Tristan helped me a lot in my first month. In fact, it was the best mentoring I’ve ever experienced in my career. Tristan provided me with some guidelines which weren’t covered by the training sessions, assigned me some newbie-friendly tasks and introduced me to other teams. Most importantly, he reviewed every PR I made since day one and provided lots of valuable feedback (thanks also to my teammates Albert and Patrick for this).
Great build pipelines
This was a nice surprise as well. Our engineering team provides lots of predefined build pipelines we can use to apply to the branches in our code repository. Not only can they be used for the mission critical branches’ CI, they can also be used to speed up code reviews and team interaction. For example in one of the build pipelines there is a “Deploy storybook” step, which will generate a React-storybook site link.
For developers who need designers to check the UX or just make their work pixel-perfect, they can send the deployed storybook link, saving time on both sides.
I was actually really surprised by how quickly I was able to fit in and adjust. During my first two days, I had several “coffee walks” with the Canva founders and my teammates. We had casual talks during these walks and had coffee together, which reduced my nervousness a lot. There are other experiences designed to help people get to know each other better, like Friday newbie introductions and having lunch together in Canva’s big canteen every day. Whether it’s by design or just because of all my friendly colleagues, Canva is really good at making new people feel part of the team.
Fun and food
People here not only work hard, they also have a lot of fun:
Deciding our release names on Slack
And the food here is above and beyond my expectations…
How things are going now
When I started a month ago, I was questioning myself a lot. I was quite nervous about whether I could get the required work done. Fortunately overall, things are going really well.
I finished some early tasks smoothly (80% of the tasks my mentor assigned to me were newbie-friendly), which gave me the confidence to take on harder tasks and dive into the codebase (although I still made some silly mistakes in my daily delivery).
Engineers at Canva are very reasonable in code reviews, quick to respond to review requests and treat every line of the code very seriously. It would be tough to find a better place to develop your craft. In short, I’ve learned a lot in the first month and am very excited to deliver more with my team members.
Getting used to work and life in a new country
Haruki Murakami says in his book ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’:
To keep on going, you have to keep up the rhythm. This is the important thing for long-term projects. Once you set the pace, the rest will follow.
So that’s it for now, it’s been a big change to get used to but it’s all gone surprisingly well so far. Thank you very much for reading:)