~ 6 min read
A look back at one year at GitLab
Written by Brie Carranza
Earlier this year you may have read the one year work anniversary posts by my fellow GitLab team members:
- March 2021: My 1st year all-remote at GitLab - Michael Friedrich
- April 2021: One year at GitLab: 7 things which I didn’t expect to learn - Sujeevan Vijayakumaran
Following in the footsteps of these friends, I wanted to share my reflections on my experience at GitLab. I started at GitLab on May 26, 2020, a few days after GitLab 13.0 was released. I became aware of the GitLab values as I considered choosing GitLab. After a year watching the values in action, the values provided an obvious template for organizing my thoughts.
TL;DR: OUT OF THIS WORLD. I AM ABSOLUTELY BLOWN AWAY. async collab = <3
The GitLab Support team is global and comprised of absolutely incredibly talented engineers who excel at identifying nuanced problems in large environments built and maintained by others. Re-read that sentence. That’s an incredible ask but we do it together all day, every day.
async collab = <3
It is not uncommon for me to work with a colleague on the other side of the Earth. Async collaboration empowers this. I really love pairing with my colleagues. The synchronous approach works quite well but is not the best for all engineers or for all situations. One of my favorite things to do is to take a problem off into a corner, poke at it for a while and assemble my findings into a set of notes for a colleague to review. The freedom to take my time, test different theories and be thorough leads to some of my best work and most interesting findings.
…and that’s just the Support team. We work with folks from all across the organization who assist in our efforts to field customer requests. When I have a question or things are not quite working properly, I get to ask the person who wrote the code. It feels so natural and obvious to me now but anyone who has done tech support surely sees the power of this possibility.
…and that’s just GitLab team members. The collaboration knows no limit where everyone can contribute. So many community resources!
The kindness and power of positive intent here are beautiful and resonate deeply with my approach to life. Bringing these to work and pairing them with a culture that understands that it’s impossible to know everything gives me everything I need to dive into the unknown, knowing that the team wants to see me succeed and won’t let me fail.
Simple but powerful. I choose how I get my work done. What matters is bringing a problem to an effective resolution. The requirements are very clear. As I once twote:
The results-oriented model is not at the expense of our humanity. One of our subvalues is: Family and friends first, work second. Check #FamilyAndFriends1st to observe our monthly Family and Friends Days as one of the many ways that this subvalue is practiced out loud and often.
I naturally embrace this value. I think of efficiency as a close friend to iteration. What’s the smallest thing we can do to effect change? It’s not about refusing to think big. It’s about looking for value in impact when balanced with effort and time.
With GitLab’s approach to transparency, practicing self-service and self-learning ensures that I have access to what I need to do my job. Being able to review conversations about why we decided to go in a certain direction provides extremely useful context when fielding requests and asembling bug reports or feature proposals.
Are you busy at work? Yes, so, be efficient where you can.
Favorite Subvalue: boring solutions
🌐 Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging
I joined GitLab in May 2020, the day after George Floyd was murdered. For this and a great many other reasons, this value has never been far from my mind. I would need quite a bit of time and space to compose my thoughts on this topic so I’ll be brief and limit my scope for the purposes of this post.
A year later, I am quite pleased with how serious and intentional the inclusivity and approach to Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging are at GitLab. To more clearly understand this, I would encourage you to:
- Read through the Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging section in the handbook
- Know that GitLab lives the values out loud
Together with Morehouse College, GitLab provided a course on Advanced Software Engineering. I was quite excited to be interviewed sharing parts of my career story in a conversation with Sharif Bennett: watch it on YouTube.
Belonging is a really interesting word. I previously thought about acceptance in the workplace. But acceptance sounds like tolerance. Do you want to be tolerated or do you want to belong? I feel that I belong at GitLab. This is made clear to me in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most exciting…there’s a
:brie: Slack emoji! It is extremely clear to me that I belong at GitLab. I savor that certainty.
This is the toughest but the most rewarding. Embracing iteration means proceeding deliberately balanced with “don’t wait”.
I was not initially compelled by the topic of iteration but I fully embrace it my approach to my work and my personal development efforts and — I. SHIP. MORE. I highly recommend scrolling through the Iteration subvalues and consider what it would look like to apply them in your individual endeavors and with your team. This Forbes article provides a great look at the relationship between creativity and iteration.
This was the biggest adjustment. It was an adjustment because of how seriously GitLab takes transparency. The simplest way to note this is to point to our public by default subvalue. If they aren’t already doing so, imagine for a moment what it would look like if your current organization really implemented public by default. What impact would that have on your ability to get things done?
Even this post is an example of how I have adjusted to Transparency over the course of the last year. A year among people who freely share inspiring, informative and introspective blog posts on the Internet and heartfelt moments in places like #mental_health_aware has freed me to explore a much more introspective post than I ever would have shared previously. (Publicly, I kept strictly to the technical in my writing. Even on this very site — until the “DIY Cat Cave” post.)
Transparency is only a value if you do it when it is hard
This is a subvalue I’ve reflected on a lot and I extend the sentiment to most values, in life not just the GitLab values.
Above all, I am so thankful for the goodness and kindness of the people I have met at GitLab. There are far far too many names to enumerate but please know that I appreciate every single Slack mention, #thanks post, issue comment, MR, pairing session and coffee chat.