fbpx Three years at Leapfrog: What I learnt, unlearnt and experienced as an SE 

Three years at Leapfrog: What I learnt, unlearnt and experienced as an SE 


Hey folks. I’m Shradha and I’ve been working at Leapfrog for quite some time now.

I joined Leapfrog as an SE intern about three years ago with some expectations and a strong determination. A juvenile fresher just starting out who thought she knew all!

Three years later, I find myself still learning something new every day. Being here and working with some accommodating seniors/team members has helped me gain a lot of knowledge. Something that the young Shradha could only have imagined back then.

Through this blog, let me share with you some of the major learnings that have helped me become the engineer I am now. Hopefully, you can take away something by the end. 

Ask for help, but do your homework first

One of the first things I learned was to ask for help whenever I needed it. Especially when you are learning new things or just starting with something new, asking for help will save you and your team precious time. 

But, make sure you optimize the time you’re asking from others. Do some research before directly asking why or how. Find out if we are already doing things a certain way, or what’s the best way to do things. Doing this first will bring new ideas to the table and enable a sense of learning. 

After you’ve learned something yourself, the ideas you present might provide a new perspective on things. Don’t worry about your ideas being incorrect or unusable, you still learned something new which will be helpful in the future.

Understand user personas

While ‘user persona’ is usually a term used in sales and design to understand the flow of the feature, it is equally important for developers to be aware of it. A common habit that I see in new developers is the tendency to just do the task assigned to them and understand the requirements based on the flow of the feature. 

“A page needs to have a form and a submit button. After the form submission is successful, another page should display the results of the form,” is an example of a simple instruction we might get while creating a CRUD application. The instructions are simple, but thinking about the user who actually has to go through the form and fill it up will help you understand the reason behind the form. Look into what kind of information the user will add and what they hope to see after the form is submitted. “What is the result going to be used for?” Questions like this will help you understand the meaning behind the features you are building.

As I got more experienced and directly involved in communicating with clients about additional features, it helped me figure out different nuances before actually starting building the feature. This engagement allows us to foresee unknown complexities as well as helps clients come up with fresh ideas for the future.

Don’t get stuck on solving problems perfectly on the first go, iterate

When I was starting out, the first and constant concern I had was that I could not complete my work perfectly. This resulted in me trying to find that perfect solution in the first attempt and getting lost in the best coding standards defined by the industry (after all there are so many standards and oftentimes contradict themself). Also, sometimes the feature you are working on is so complicated that comprehending all the edge cases in a single go is almost impossible.

After a while, I learned it is always better to get the functionality down first and then iterate by adding in the standard and polishing out the code. Another thing that helps to add in the finishing touches is to do your PR review before sending it to others. Try to catch the missing DRY and SOLID best practices yourself before someone else points them out.

Don’t limit yourself to your role

I guess this depends on the type of organization you work for and whether this type of opportunity presents itself to you. Leapfrog provided me with many occasions to get involved in different projects, campaigns and guilds.

I joined the Agile Guild at Leapfrog which immensely helped me understand the processes and people management. If I had constrained myself to just programming–since I’m a developer by role–I wouldn’t have learned all that for at least a few more years into my career.

Mentoring the internships and fellowship initiative of Women@Leapfrog Guild may have been the most rewarding experience for me. It let me refresh all the knowledge I had. Shaping young minds and their enthusiasm is something that always encourages me to keep striving to do better and reach new heights.

I believe no one should confine themselves to a singular role. When we first start our careers, we are really just beginning to find ourselves, and not limiting ourselves to a ‘designation’ can help us find what we really love to do! 

Share your experience and success, also appreciate and advocate for others.

As someone who constantly suffers from imposter syndrome, advocacy is difficult for me. But sharing your success story is extremely important in the long term. Backing up your success with your experience and facts is crucial during the appraisal process. At the same time, don’t forget to advocate for your team members and the people around you. If they have published a blog or uploaded a video, you can share it with others to get them more reach. After all, others may suffer from the same imposter syndrome. Appreciate others and maybe they will do the same to you in the future.

 

Many experiences have helped me grow from an intern to a software engineer. The most important thing I believe is to understand the people you work with, empathize with your team members and your client. It will help you understand the product you are building and also your team members who build that product. Understanding each other is the key that brings about success for everyone.


Find Shradha on Linkedin.

Shradha Neupane

Shradha is a Software Engineer at Leapfrog. She's passionate about inspiring new generation of girls to dive into the world of technology.

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