Welcome to the latest post in our ‘Day in the Life’ blog series in which product and engineering’s digital coordinator, Rasha Ardati, interviews a colleague from the department to reflect on their career and experiences at the Guardian.
Anna Beddow is another one of our amazing colleagues who found her way into software development in a very unconventional way. She originally studied English Literature at Sheffield University before working at a mobile advertising company where she began collaborating with inhouse developers and took an interest in their work. Anna then went straight to a Makers Academy developer bootcamp and later became a junior developer at a company specialising in a city exploration app.
What brought you to the Guardian and how has it been?
While browsing Guardian Jobs an advert came up at the Guardian looking for a React developer. I was working specifically with React Native at the time and I was also a lifelong Guardian reader so I thought this might be a perfect fit. The way the job description highlighted the collaborative nature of the role was also a great draw for me.
I started last year as a client-side developer, working with front-end technologies to build the interface and its functionality; basically whatever the user sees when they access the website. I am currently working in the liveblogs team, but will be moving on to journalism soon. My manager makes sure I’m properly introduced into the new team and that I have the opportunity to familiarise myself with different colleagues as well as new tech.
What are you working on right now and what does a typical day look like for you?
At the moment I’m working on building the liveblogs in the new rendering platforms, moving them into Typescript from Scala. Hopefully what that means is it should all look the same to our readers, but run faster and allow us to make edits and improvements to them more quickly and easily.
I recently started doing compressed hours which means that I work between 8.30am-6pm Monday to Thursday and take Fridays off. After an initial trial period, I found that it had vastly improved my work life balance. So, When I start my day it’s pretty quiet and I use that time to get some reading and admin done. By about 10am the Guardian starts to come alive and I get to do the usual daily ceremonials like standup with my team before it’s onto tickets (eg. bug fixing or design changes). Luckily for me, I don’t tend to have too many meetings so it’s very much ‘head down’ work for the rest of the day.
Of the meetings, I do attend I enjoy the demos the most. We do a lot of demo-ing at the Guardian and it’s always great to see what other teams are working on. It’s also a great opportunity to explain our work technically, as well non-technically, when we’re doing it to a broader audience of non-developers.
Where can I find open positions?
Apply for one of our open positions here.
What can I expect from the interview process?
We aim to be as fair and transparent as possible in our hiring process. Similar to other organisations, there is a CV screening, phone interview, coding exercise and a face to face interview. Read more about what to expect and apply now here.
How has it been working remotely?
In terms of feeling welcomed, it’s been great. People were jumping in right off the bat to introduce themselves, as well as to offer help if I needed any. It’s a trait I’ve noticed at the Guardian where everyone is just very keen to help wherever they can. It’s definitely something I’m trying to pay forward now with the new starters that we have.
Communication has also remained clear with regular team check-ins throughout the day. There are also loads of different chat channels that cover everything from the main issues of the department to food, cats and people’s favourite playlists. If I ever have a question about anything I can always drop it in the right channel and get an answer almost instantly. However, I am also looking forward to seeing my colleagues in person more often, as well as getting a sense of the office which is always a nice tangible reminder that I work for the Guardian.
What have you enjoyed the most since you’ve joined?
The emphasis on learning is a really big part of why I enjoy my work here. In the engineering department, we have 10% time where we get a day every fortnight for self improvement and personal development. I’m also part of a few meetings that discuss new technologies such as the client-side infrastructure sessions and front-end sessions.
The Guardian also has a great mentorship scheme. My mentor is another, more experienced, developer who offers career guidance, plus we meet regularly when I’m particularly stuck on something or just to explore different aspects of the language that I’m working on and do little challenges together. Again, I hope I can pay that forward soon by becoming a mentor myself when I’m ready.
What would encourage someone to apply to the Guardian?
I think the Guardian is really trying to create an open, safe and diverse environment for us to work in and I really appreciate that. This ranges from something as broad as being exposed to more diverse colleagues within the department and organisation, to something as small as feeling like you can contribute in a meeting and be heard.
Also all these learning opportunities and creative outlets and activities within the department are a really good way to build someone’s confidence and get them noticed and acknowledged without having to be the metaphorical ‘loudest voice in the room’.
Development of digital products is central to the Guardian. You could be building the products that showcase our progressive and independent journalism, crafting the tools that journalists use to write their stories, developing the services that allow those stories to be distributed across the globe, or safeguarding our financial future.
If you’re interested in joining our product and engineering team, please visit the Guardian News & Media careers page.