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A day in the life of Mike, Lead Front End Developer

The Bristol 10K with fellow Immerser Oliver Ridsdale
Pre-COVID: The Bristol 10K with fellow Immerser Oliver Ridsdale

Friday morning. It’s been a busy week, and there’s a lot on today’s agenda. I start the day by checking my calendar and daily to-do list. As a Lead Developer on one of Immersive Labs’ Engineering teams my work is varied, and I find it helpful to break the day up into little chunks to give each task my full attention and minimize context-switching.

The first hour or so of the day is a good time to check out Pull Requests that have been assigned to me for review. A PR needs two approvals from peers before it can progress to the QA stage and, subject to QA’s go-ahead, get merged into our master branch and released to production.

For each PR I’ll first conduct a code review, reading through the committed code to understand what has been added or changed and why. Code reviews are a great way to see how your fellow developers solve problems, and a chance to suggest your own changes if you might have approached things differently. These reviews are a two-way process, and for my own personal development I really value the opportunity to get feedback on my code from the talented devs on our Engineering teams. We’re all constantly learning from each other, and our review process is a big part of maintaining high standards in our codebase.

At 10 each morning I lead my team’s daily standup. This is a 15 minute catch up about where we are in the current sprint, and how everyone’s work is progressing. We’ll identify any blockers and the necessary steps to remove them to help keep the team productive, and arrange any further discussions around specific issues that need more attention than the quick, high-level chats the standup allows.

After the standup I’m head-down in code for a bit. Team Shaun (our Engineering teams are named after Aardman Animations characters in a nod to our Bristolian roots) is working on a particularly exciting project at the moment: a whole new product with lots of interesting technical challenges to overcome. There’s a lot of work to do, but we’ve been given plenty of autonomy around how we organize and deliver it.

Before breaking for lunch I join the Front End State of Play meeting, a weekly get-together of all the front end developers to talk about best practice, industry news, and to take in “shallow dive” presentations on topics of interest. It might be about a new tool or technique we can use to solve a problem, or a developer might present a walkthrough of a new component they’ve been working on that others can make use of. State of Play is also a good opportunity to catch up with developers I don’t work with directly and see less of throughout the week, particularly now in our remote-first way of working.

After lunch I’m back down to work on new features for our Cyber Crisis Simulator. I’ve really enjoyed the challenge of bringing an entirely new product to market and being able to iter

Pair programming at home
Post-COVID: Pair programming at home

ate on the Minimum Viable Product we initially shipped, adding new features and functionality based on customer feedback.

At around 4 I jump onto my last call of the day: Team Shaun’s afternoon catch-up. It’s an optional daily call we set up at the beginning of the pandemic as a way of keeping the team close during

the sudden switch to remote working, and it’s come to be the highlight of my afternoons. There’s no pressure to join if you’re too busy or just not feeling it, and there’s generally little shop talk. It acts as a substitute for all the non-work chats we used to have in the background of the working day when we were all together in the office, and I think it’s a large part of the reason Team Shaun works so well together.

After the catch up I use the last hour of the day to wrap up the working week by tidying up my code for one last commit and push. Let the weekend begin!