Being a Trainee at Valuemotive
I started my trainee cycle at Valuemotive September of 2020; this was something I needed for my studies to graduate. I was looking for a trainee position for some time because the remote working situation had made it a lot more difficult for students to get into training positions. So, I was extremely lucky to have this opportunity.
The first week I met a few of my new colleagues when I went to the office for the first time. Everyone was welcoming and the feeling I got was warm and inviting, even if I had not met anyone before. Most of the employees were working from home or at their client’s workspace. I visited the office a few times after that and was happy to notice how approachable this company is. The meetings were open and every Friday there was a weekly meeting where people would tell how they had experienced their week and what they were going to do on the weekend. There were also game nights and Friday-hacks.
I actually ended up doing a Friday-hack one week myself. It went surprisingly well. When I was gathering the material for the talk, I was thinking about the hour or so of time that I was supposed to spend talking about design and layout. I was actually kind of worried that there might not be enough to talk about in my tiny presentation. I mean, design itself is an enormous subject to talk about, since there is so much great material available. But how do you select which parts would be most important for developers? What is interesting and how much is enough? I was a bit panicked starting that Friday-hack, but I’m happy to tell, that at some point I realized I had used almost the whole hour that was reserved.
Shapes as part of design and layout
The thing about Friday-hacks is that they are meant to share the information between colleagues. I think that is an amazing thing. To me, personally, it shows that the people working there want to help others get better at what they do and inspire them with new ideas that they might not have thought about. The hacks were informal presentations on various different subjects, depending totally on who was running the show. Open discussion was encouraged, and people had loads of fun during these hacks.
When I first started my project, me and my mentor had a kickoff meeting to look over the requirements. We made a Trello board and started with User Stories and epics. After that we moved onto deciding what the Minimal Viable Product (MVP) would look like. I was working on this project mostly alone, so he took that into consideration. After all, I had a lot to learn. Before I started, I had been going through React courses for a few weeks but had not used it to do a project before. It was all new, but I was eager to learn.
I was surprised to learn that the first task I got was to make a layout design with a few fonts and a color palette attached. After a few days of learning about design, layout, fonts, colors, shapes, and whatever else I could find and deemed important, we had another meeting. The things I presented in this meeting actually became the base to my design and layout Friday-hack since he thought it might interest the other developers as well.
After the first week there were weekly progress meetings and every two weeks, we had a sprint meeting where we decided what I was setting out to accomplish the next sprint. I think this worked out well for both of us, since he had his own work to do. This gave me the opportunity to try and figure out things on my own, but still have the opportunity to ask for help if I got stuck on a problem for too long. Before I knew it, it was my last week and I had learned a lot. I feel that these four months have taught me more than I learned in one year at school. It has become clear to me that doing and being a part of a real work project is so much more rewarding in the long run than going through classes and learning a little here and there.
The fact that I got to be such an essential part of creating the tasks and making decisions on the project itself is a priceless experience. It was not like I expected it to be at all. The fact that a trainee is as important to the team as any other member is uplifting. It was something that actually improved my confidence to speak up when I felt I had something to say.
All in all, this was a great, invaluable experience for me. Valuemotive is a great place to work and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to work with a group of talented, open-minded, and helpful people. The team is what really makes Valuemotive and they are well aware of this fact. That is why there are Friday-hacks, game nights, coffee breaks in slack, remote Christmas parties and why everyday success has its own slack channel. These are just some of the things done to keep the team together even if everyone is now working remotely.