The Weekly Scrum series takes you in the kitchen of VMware Bulgaria dev teams. Learn what their work process looks like and what makes them stick around.
I’m Plamen and I’d like to give you a glimpse of what a week at VMware looks like. The week I will describe describes my transition from one VMware project to another, and the period is in fact longer than a week, starting a few days before the lockdown and 2 months later.
Monday (before the lockdown)
We are a team that was recently transferred from one project to another and we are the only people from Sofia on this project. Everyone is a bit confused, but it’s nowhere near real frustration. We have the agenda set up for us – it’s onboarding time and we were provided with a lot of resources and steps to follow. We follow them and some don’t work. At first, it’s a team effort to dig in and troubleshoot it, but at some point, we get the courage and ask our new colleague at Germany for help. He is very patient and responsive, so we steadily move forward. As time goes by, we have our first successful local build. Later that day we have a quick intro of the whole architecture. It’s all hosted on Amazon. None of us has a lot, if any, experience with AWS, so we don’t understand it all, but there’s excitement in the air. We are going to do something new.
Tuesday (before the lockdown)
We’ve gone through some of the code and we’ve managed to build some of the projects. We’ve even written some lambdas for AWS! We’re psyched about all the new things we’re going to face and learn from this project. We then spend the better part of the day working on an open-source project so we can create a local environment for testing the new shiny thing we learned – AWS lambda functions. Numerous comments about the project claim it to be the holy grail for local testing. Our experience with it is the biggest spaghetti code we’ve used. Our team lead had gone a different way, researching an alternative method. At the end of the day, he has a working prototype and he proposes it to us and the broader team in the USA. In spite of being the new guy and given the task to research the other project, his voice is heard. We probably can’t use what he suggested right away, but the people from the team are open-minded and take it into consideration. We still manage to make things work using the initial solution and we leave it at there. We’ve been finally assigned to a specific part of the project. The rest is in someone else’s hands.
Wednesday (after the lockdown)
As a young engineer, now settled in his new place, for whom the only kid is the one inside him, I am both sad that I can’t sleep a bit more and happy to go do something meaningful with my time at work. I head to work. As I walk towards my desk, I see most of my colleagues are already here. Great, they haven’t gotten coffee yet. We go downstairs to the cafeteria and begin the unofficial daily sync. While we wait in line at the coffee machines, we discuss how things are going in our lives. At some point someone complains about a task they have, but we quickly fix it by making up ridiculous humorous solutions. After finishing our coffees and charging with positive energy, we head back to our desks. I open my inbox and go through the massive pile of emails gathered. I read what’s important to me and head to the issue board. 11 o’clock strikes. We gather in front of one computer and begin our official daily sync, called stand up, with our colleague in Germany. Nobody is standing up… We talk serious about work, but that doesn’t stop us from throwing small jokes around. It’s mostly a quick status report, but occasionally we discuss any blockers we have, find who can help, and discuss it in depth with them after the meeting. We head back to our desks, work some more, and decide it’s time to have lunch. After that, it’s pretty much the same as the hours between the coffee and the stand-up, with one coffee break in the middle to clear our heads.
Thursday (after the lockdown)
I haven’t been to the office in two months, but it doesn’t matter much. We’ve lost the routine of drinking coffee together, but there are times we gather in a zoom meeting and share the morning coffee. We do however have a daily stand up over zoom. We’re getting comfortable with the code base, but we still don’t know the whole picture. There are way too many moving parts. And we need to become more and more involved as one day we will have to respond to escalations, support customers, etc. Luckily our managers know that and aren’t afraid to invest in us. Today we’re having a more in-depth lecture about Amazon Services, followed by hands-on labs. I spend the day listening and reading about all the new things I didn’t fully understand, drinking more coffee than I should, and going back and forth the labs and a task I’ve also started working on. From time to time I have recharging hug breaks with my girlfriend. I end the day a bit more exhausted than usual but a bit more confident in my knowledge.
Friday (after the lockdown)
We made our first big change in the product and it’s time to celebrate. We decide to make a small hike in the near mountains, followed by lunch. We gather early in the morning and head towards our destination. We hike for two hours in each direction, forming different groups along the way, catching up. It’s a nice exercise and a pleasant change in scenery and company. By the time we get down the base of the mountain everybody is hungry and ready for a healthy amount of food. We head to a nice Greek restaurant and enjoy some seafood and beer. As all things come to an end except work, we say our goodbyes and head back to our homes. The workday begins. I think the week is over. To my surprise, a small task I’ve left unattended turns out to be a really hard nut to crack. I pace around the room thinking of solutions and slowly submerging myself in despair, thinking how the sprint ends in 3 days. At some point I notice it’s 7:30 pm. Enough, I think. I’ve had my share of the week. Time to spend some time with my girlfriend.