Developer to Developer:
In Their Own Words

An interview with Matt, Intermediate Developer

What makes for a positive work environment?
Generally, an environment that’s supportive and people-driven instead of product or outcome driven. I’ve worked at places that cared more about what an individual could produce instead of the individual themselves, and that felt really bad.

What’s it like to work here?
In a few words, it’s nice. It’s small enough that you get to know everyone, although we’re growing quickly, but that doesn’t stop people’s personalities from shining through. It’s a pretty diverse group. You feel supported by coworkers and bosses. There‘s a real focus on actual fun. We have weekly “tea time” meetings that are not business related, and Skyward makes time for that unlike other places I’ve seen or worked.

How would you describe the management style?
I don’t want to overuse this word, but supportive — and trusting. There’s something I’m allergic to, and that’s micromanagement. Skyward doesn’t have a whiff of that. If you ask for help, they will be there. Otherwise, people tend to trust that you will make the best decisions and you’ll ask for help if it’s needed, not because they determine you need help.

How has the job challenged you?

It’s certainly challenged my technical skill set, because Skyward gets to do different types of work and projects. I had done very narrow kinds of full stack web development before I came here, but here I’ve worked on half a dozen web development projects, each with different requirements. I’ve worked on mobile projects that I have not before at this technical level, so it’s challenged my skill set to become much wider. It’s also challenged me to function in a smaller, more intimate environment.

Why are you here?
The companies I have worked at before were bigger, and I found myself slipping through the cracks. I wanted to be in a place where it’s too small to go unnoticed. In a way, it means forming more in-depth relationships than you would at a larger shop where you’re not pressed to know people as closely, because you only ever see them in a work context. It’s easy to clock in and out and just say hi and hellos.

Another reason I like it here is that there’s a lot of extracurricular involvement, like Games Night, with people hanging out because they’ve become genuine friends. It’s a deeper connection.

What would you change if you could?
I don’t want to sound like a suckup, but things are solid as is. I guess giving Skyward more resources and exposure to continue to grow.

What makes you most proud to be here?
That I’m working towards a real problem.  As a software engineer, you know your skill set is in high demand, you’re constantly thrown job opportunities with ridiculous salaries, working on vending machines, government stuff, whatever. I strongly believe the greatest challenge that we as a species will ever face and staring down the barrel at, is climate change. The way we produce food is a large part of that. Not all food production is done equally. The more I learn about agriculture, the more I realize it’s an industry that needs support. It still lags behind in too many ways. This is about eating. It couldn’t be more important. It’s a matter of daily survival for millions if not billions of people. I am one cog in the chain that keeps people fed.

Why should a developer or SDET work here instead of another shop
It’s easier to get up and show up to work when you want to. Because you’re working on something you believe in or working with people you get along with or working for bosses you actually like. It’s really just that. You can get more money elsewhere, but you’ll probably flame out a lot sooner. This is by far the longest I’ve held a position as a software engineer. I’ve been at Skyward for about 5 years and have no plans to go anywhere else soon.

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