A Day in the Life of an Associate

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Ever wondered what a day in the life of one of our Associates is like? This series will give you all the details! Our “Day in the Life” subject is Mike Lankenau, located in Richmond, Virginia. Mike joined our team as part of our Breaking Ground program. 

You may be wondering what “Breaking Ground” means. Our Breaking Ground program is designed to bring new team members up to speed on our delivery approach before joining a project team. The six-week program is designed to train new software engineers on: 

Consulting Best Practices 

  • Holding meetings and presentations with clients 
  • Understanding the client’s business problem and gathering requirements  
  • Showcasing demos of the final applications 

Software Development as a Team  

  • New technologies and tech stacks 
  • Agile development approaches 
  • Developing within a shared codebase 
  • Code review and coding best practices  

The Breaking Ground cohort was trained on all these skills and ultimately developed an asset management application for equipment like laptops, monitors, etc. for UDig. Our Chief Financial Officer and Employee Success Manager acted as the product owners and stakeholders.   

Here’s what a typical day looks like for Mike.  

Morning 

I am not an instinctually early riser; I usually wake up around 8 am. However, in my previous environmental career field, I had to start my days as early as 5:30 or 6:00 am; needed to beat the heat when working outside! I like to start off my day by drinking a warm cup of coffee and scrolling through any new phone notifications that I may have missed overnight. After that, I’ll spend some time with my dog, Cooper. My girlfriend and I split up our dog parent duties, so most mornings I’ll feed him breakfast and take him out for a 15-to-30-minute walk around our neighborhood. After our walk, I spend some time catching up with the other Breaking Ground cohorts and then get started on some smaller development tasks. Every morning we have a standup meeting where we cover the typical development practices. During the Breaking Ground program, we’re also provided the opportunity to dive deeper into the “why” and “how” of the technologies we are working with and how to best interact with clients.  

I usually start work at home. I really love the flexibility of UDig’s work-from-anywhere policy. I have an ideal home office setup with my favorite monitors and equipment. I find that I’m a very effective worker when in a comfortable, familiar environment. It’s really nice to have the office as an option as well though, if I’m looking for a change of pace and a chance to see my coworkers in person. 

Lunch Time

My lunch plans typically depend on how busy I am that day. Sometimes, I’ll go out to eat somewhere close to home. I live in Carytown, so there’s plenty of options! I really like New York Deli or Coppola’s Deli for subs and sandwiches, Greek on Cary for some awesome Mediterranean food, or Citizen Burger or Burger Bach for a juicy burger. Sometimes though, I just go for the old, reliable Chipotle. Since I’m still new to UDig, I don’t usually go to lunch with colleagues, but would love to meet up with anyone who lives nearby! If I’m not eating out, I’ll have a quick snack or some leftovers at home. This gives me enough time to fit in a few at-home exercises and stretch routines, catch up on small chores around the house, or take the dog out for another quick walk. 

Afternoon

After lunch, the Breaking Ground cohort is usually in heads down development. We’ll either work on implementing and testing new features, enhancing existing features, or fixing bugs. We always make great use of communication throughout the day via Slack messages and huddles. When it’s necessary, we’ll review code as a team, help each other troubleshoot issues, or get into groups of two to tackle development tasks together. We have continuous support and guidance from UDig mentors and technical leaders throughout the day. We frequently host meetings with mentors regarding our tech stack, challenging problems, or bugs impeding the development workflow. I really appreciate this component of the Breaking Ground program as a new software engineer since it allows me to learn quickly and feel reassured regarding routine challenges software engineers face.  I’m usually alright staying put in one location throughout the day. However, if I’m really craving a change of scenery, I’ll bring my laptop to a local coffee shop or get some fresh air outside on my deck. While working, I’m either listening to the sounds of my new mechanical keyboard or music. If I’m listening to music, I’m either catching up on newly released music, or listening to some of my favorite artists like The Beatles, My Morning Jacket, The Strokes, and Wilco, or some ambient classical or lo-fi hip hop playlists. 

After Work

After work, I’ll catch up with my girlfriend on a walk, cook or order some dinner, and wind down with a movie or TV show. Some nights, I’ll meet up with friends and grab a beer at one of my favorite breweries, play some basketball or disc golf, or play video games. I’m also currently working on getting a certificate through a Java Programming Masterclass Course on Udemy, so I’ll take some time to work on that if I have extra free time.