30 percent coder

For the first time in my life, I can legitimately say that I spend at least 30% of my work time coding.

At first, it was just through my side project, Skilldom.org which I started building with a couple of friends. It was an excuse to learn how to code again and I have to say – it’s been a great experience. We released v0.1 (really, a proof of concept) a few weeks back and are already working on the beta product now.

However, what’s been really awesome is the transition I’ve been lucky to make at work. I work on the Business Operations team at Dropbox, which is a pretty unique group. Almost everyone has *some* technical background – at least enough to be taken seriously at a tech company. What’s interesting, though, is that the company and the group has created a way for anyone to come in and start adding value without being a burden.

When I wanted to run some experiments for our Business product’s site, and there weren’t enough engineers to build it, I was encouraged to just do it myself. It wasn’t just all talk. When I got down to it, I had my local VM running in a couple of days with very little engineering input and had my first production push under a week. I went from being a strategy/operations guy to coder within a matter of a week. Not only did the engg. lead, who helped me, not freak out, he patiently guided me through the process and helped build my confidence.

That was about 2 months ago, and by now, my team jokingly refers to me as the “resident engineer”. I might not be anywhere close to the level that the awesome engineers at Dropbox perform at, but what’s been amazing about this journey is the willingness of the company and my colleagues to take risks with people. At the same time, the company’s built some awesome systems (really, from being a non engineer to pushing code in under a week is huge!) that help anyone come in and build great stuff, if they want to.