So. I’m working at Atlassian now.
I’m sitting in my apartment, having finished my 3rd day at the Atlassian office a few hours ago. I want to write something that conveys the insane mix of elation, trepidation, pride and self-doubt I’m presently feeling. I don’t believe I have the requisite eloquence to actually capture my feelings in writing, but, to hell with it! I’ll give it a whirl.
One of the first things that hit me on my first day at Atlassian is just how huge this place is. The second thing that occurred to me is the staggering number of incredibly talented people there are, sitting within 50m of me in all directions - Atlassian has a few floors in the Sydney office, so when I say all directions, I really mean left, right, up, and down. Right now it really feels like every single switched-on invidivual in the world works here.
Knowing that so many incredibly gifted people work here is a mixed blessing for me. On the one hand, it’s liberating to know I’m surrounded by so many empowered guys and gals. On the other hand though, I haven’t ever been surrounded by this many geniuses in one location. I’m inexplicably finding this to be rather confronting. There were a few people who were much smarter than me in my previous organization, but honestly in most settings I felt I was one of the “smarter-er” ones, which lead to me being a little too confident of my own abilities. At Atlassian I kind of feel like the village idiot. I almost feel as if I’m being literally barraged by the sheer amount of intelligence in this place. It positively oozes out of every crack of the office.
I keep reminding myself that after rigorous interviewing, I too am now planting my ass in a chair, contained by the very same office where these titans of engineering, design, finance, HR, management and leadership also sit (or stand, there’s a LOT of standing desks here). But I still keep wondering - ”Should I be here? Am I smart enough? Am I creative enough? Will I be able to deliver the results this powerhouse will expect, no, demand of me?”. Ultimately I think Atlassian is the perfect place for me, and I am going to do very well here. With that in mind, I don’t think this is a place I (or anyone) could ever get complacent in. I will constantly feel challenged and will be forever striving to better myself - to understand more, to experience more, to do more.
One of the biggest reasons that the sheer intellect of those around me appears so vast is because of how much Atlassian “dogfoods” their own products. One of their biggest products, Confluence, a Wiki collaboration tool, is heavily used internally to disseminate knowledge of … well, everything. Seriously. Atlassians have concisely documented noteworthy places I can eat near the office, insightful dossiers on the executive team, upcoming local gigs (and people who are going to them), and everything in between. I’m to undertake several phases of initiation into the company, parts of which have been prepared by the HR team and other parts by the Engineering department, all of which is made easily available in Confluence.
Fair enough. Let me talk about some of the tangible awesome that is Atlassian.
The on-boarding process.
I rocked up to the office Monday morning at 10am sharp. I was then taken through a basic initiation presentation with a couple of lovely people from HR. After this I was taken on a whirlwind tour through the level 6 and 7 office floors, where I was then handed off to another meeting. This one explained the basics of the systems I’ll be dealing with on an everyday basis, and access details for them. From here I was then planted at my new desk to get the basics set up.
No sooner had I settled in was I already being whisked off to lunch and 1-on-1 meetings with my development manager to begin my mentorship. For the rest of the first afternoon I was busy working through an expansive “Survival Essentials” checklist that directed me to pertinent knowledge areas in the Confluence instance I mentioned earlier.
This checklist also set me onto my “bootcamp” process. It’s a 4 week program which involves attending many hosted talks - fellow Atlassians run these on what appears to be a fortnightly roster, going through the Dragon Quest, fixing my first bugs, and finally shipping a feature. That’s right. I’m going to be designing, implementing, polishing, and SHIPPING a feature to Atlassian customers within 3 and a half weeks from now. Atlassian has a lot of freakin’ customers, even if only a tiny fraction of them check out my new feature (whether it be bundled with a version of Confluence/JIRA or made available as a plugin), that’s a whole lotta eyeballs on something I created.
Along the way in my initiation I’ve met many people who are extremely friendly and helpful. Other than the reservations I expressed earlier (the part where I was whining about how many really smart people I’m surrounded by now), I haven’t felt awkward or out of place for even a second. The whole process has been incredibly smooth so far.
You’ve probably heard of a few of them. The fully-stocked kitchen (breakfast, lunch, goodie bar, icecream freezer), the beer, the Aeron chairs, the ping pong table, the pool table. They’re all pretty sweet. I don’t know what to say besides that, other than: Why the hell doesn’t every other company invest in this kind of stuff?
I haven’t taken any 20% time, and I haven’t experienced any of the TGIF events (the Friday just before I joined was Bouncy Castle Boxing) yet, but I’ll definitely be reporting back on this blog when I do.
Whether it’s the wallboards that intone in a robotic voice at predefined times “Pushups. Do it.”, the hilarious flowcharts in the bathrooms, the standing desks, the Nerf gun I was given in my first day welcome pack, the whole-wall whiteboards covered in goals (many of which have already been satisfied) or the entertaining themed meeting rooms (I had meetings today in the Nebuchadnezzar and Aperture, yesterday was meetings in Tardis and Rapture) you can’t really walk a single step here and not feel the Atlassian vibe.
Of course one of the biggest aspects of Atlassian culture is the ShipIt days. A 24-hour hackathon to build new features for Atlassian projects is a logical choice for a company that demands, and fosters, creativity and results from all in its employ. It just so happens there’s one tomorrow, and I’ll be joining a team of 4 others to hack up an interesting and exciting new feature for Confluence.
Your friends weren’t lying to you. Atlassian really is the best place to work in Australia. You should come work here.