Hey there! I’m Marta a graduate developer in Madrid! Before joining Thoughtworks, I had been freelancing after leaving my .NET developer job of two years. I was excited to join Thoughtworks because of its values, the opportunity to learn good software development practices, and to meet Thoughtworkers from around the world.
At Thoughtworks University (TWU)
I was supposed to attend TWU in Pune, India, but surprise: it was 2020. To ensure all new joiners were safe as COVID-19 quickly spread around the world, TWU pivoted to an 100% remote program.
My first week with TWU was different from what I expected. My ‘batch’ was composed of grads from Spain, Chile, the UK, and Brazil. The Brazilian grads were lucky to have met before TWU started and they’d already bonded… virtual India became virtual Brazil.
We were around 70 grads total and I wondered how we were going to interact with each other, but everything was already planned. There were four separate groups: developers, quality analysts, business analysts, and UX designers. The communication channels were an internal chat and several Zoom rooms for each group. We also had some sessions with the entire group, but the main communities were forged within these smaller groups. This was expected because everything was remote, so we spent most of our time with them and our two trainers in Zoom.
I wasn’t expecting to learn technical skills during TWU since I was already familiar with the stack, but I was surprised that here I had the freedom to try and learn from other roles. My team had six devs and a QA, but no BA or UX, so I had the chance to learn these roles. I was lucky that our QA wanted to be involved as a developer as well, and that I was the person with the most interest in BA/UX tasks.
From my point of view, being at TWU provided two types of learning opportunities.
We were working on what an ideal agile project should look like: we applied TDD, used our retrospectives to improve on each iteration, and re-planned our sprints when necessary. I think getting used to these practices was a strength that we’ll be able touse in future projects.
We ‘played’ in very realistic environments which was helpful for the grads who had never worked in this business before. We had a product owner (PO) with actual demands for the product and we scheduled plannings, demos, dailies, retros, and other agile ceremonies like in any project.
Looking back on my experience before and after graduating from TWU, I feel like I learned a lot about the lifecycle of a product beyond just the developer perspective.
Also, I was surprised not just on a technical level, but on a human one as well. This was the first time TWU had ever been 100% remote, and not by decision, but for ‘survival.’ Everybody (grads, trainers, organizers) made an incredible effort to make this program possible despite distance barriers. Now I feel really close to people who are in different countries or timezones. Even if I have only met my teammates virtually, this has been the real success of this TWU batch.
(Some) TWU Grads
I was told that most of the grads may spend time at the beach right after graduating from TWU, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was being staffed just two days after TWU ended.
My team is small and there are very good vibes between us. Initially, navigating the client relationship and their tech stack presented an enormous learning curve.
Despite these challenges, I’m honing the new consulting skills I got on TWU and they’re growing incredibly fast. I have the opportunity to learn a lot about consulting, learn technologies I’ve never heard of, and to get involved in the product process from a broader perspective.
Today, it feels like it’s been a lifetime since I first joined Thoughtworks.
Since TWU, I now have the best mentor, I’ve had the chance to facilitate inductions for new joiners and conduct interviews, I took part in an inception and co-led a couple of workshops… and now I get to be a buddy! I feel like the circle is closing and I’m looking forward to guiding my grad into this exciting new path and showing him how incredible it can be, even fully remote.
I can’t deny that the experience of starting a new job during a pandemic may have felt scary in the beginning, but I’ve always felt supported by my Thoughtworks colleagues. And now that it seems the end of these strange times we’re living is getting closer, I’m really excited to return to ‘normal’ life, go to the Madrid office, build new relationships, continue learning, find a sponsor, and who knows, maybe even change roles.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.