For the past three months or so I’ve been developing on the Android platform for a startup called Pitstop. Without going into too much detail, Pitstop’s focus is to provide users with an application capable of predicting vehicle failures before they happen. The Pitstop application communicates with a device that is plugged into a car and using the data retrieved from the device, predictions can be made about future vehicle performance. If you want to find out more you can check us out here.
I began this job straight out of University, only one week after finishing my exams and regardless of the post-exam burnout I was experiencing, I was still ecstatic. I enjoyed developing Android applications and Java was my strongest language, so I felt this was the perfect position for me. A friend of mine who’s worked at a couple of start-ups as an iOS developer mentioned the fast pace of learning he experienced working at a startup, which I hoped to experience at Pitstop.
From day one I was for the most part on my own in terms of Android development, having no senior developer to go to for questions. I didn’t mind this since it allowed me to take on more responsibilities. Any kind of feature I was implementing or bug I was fixing had to be broken down and understood clearly since there was nobody to do this for me. This provided me with a deep understanding of things which I normally would only breeze over and make assumptions about.
Given that for the most part the majority of my day was planned entirely by me, I quickly had to become effective at self-managing myself. Without someone telling you exactly what problems to work on and the sequence of steps to take, it is very easy to get off track and spend a lot of time working on things which aren’t a priority. I realized this quickly and began setting weekly milestones in writing as well as specific tasks to work through daily.
One new skill which I previously did not find myself using was the ability to find and prioritize problems. In school and other jobs, I was pretty much always handed the problem and responsible only for finding and implementing the solution. At Pitstop, these problems weren’t always handed to me, it was occasionally my responsibility to figure out what problems existed on both a software and user-experience level. This turned out to be harder than I figured since there are countless possible improvements and having to pick the few that matter requires a lot of planning and team communication.
There were many other skills which I improved on as well, but I believe the mentioned ones resulted in the most profound changes. It is almost unbelievable the amount of knowledge and experience I have gained in the short three months. Much of this I attribute to throwing myself into a semi-unstructured, very driven, and closely bonded team work environment at Pitstop.