Working at GitHub

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I’m coming on five years at GitHub (in December) and I thought I’d write a bit about what I’ve been up to lately and the fact that several of my teams are hiring. Five years passes by so quickly, right? I still get emails for feature requests on ASP.NET MVC. I always reply that the team would be happy to implement all of the suggestions and to just check the repository in a week’s time. I’m sure the team loves me for that.

If you don’t give a rat’s ass about what I’m up to, but are interested in our open positions, feel free to skip to the job postings at the bottom. By the way, even if you do give a rat’s ass, please keep it to yourself. What I’ve been up to does not include collecting rodent derrières.

I still don’t know why that’s a phrase we use, but I’m sure Mark Twain is involved…that rapscallion. But as usual, I digress.

What inspires me

When I think about the work we do at GitHub, the Story of Anna comes to mind. Building software is a great creator of opportunities for those from all walks of life. I get a kick out of writing software for people like Anna, or my friend Noah, or NASA and many others who are using it to build great things.

In a recent Octotale video, Desert Horse-Grant, the Director of Strategic Planning and Operations at Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center noted that “cancer will be solved on a computer.” At GitHub, we’re not solving cancer, but I like to think we build the tools for those who will. And that’s what gets me inspired every day.

My new position

Several months ago, I took a new position as an Engineering Director at GitHub. It’s not clear to a lot of people that GitHub has managers much less directors now. When I started, we had around fifty employees and a flat corporate structure. Two years ago, we introduced management.

Several months ago, we introduced directors, a position that’s also new to me. What this means is that I now manage managers. I guess this is what happens to people who like to blog about blogging, they end up managing managers. I enjoy the meta.

At GitHub, engineering managers are very hands on technically. They are technical leaders who help coach teams to greater success. Kind of like Pete Rose who was a player-manager when he broke the all-time hit record set by the irascible Ty Cobb.

Directors, on the other hand tend to focus more on people and management issues. We’re much less hands on technically, though I try to keep my hands dirty with code here and there. Instead, we try and focus on what will equip the managers and their teams to be more successful. How can I help my managers be better? What systems can I put in place so the people they manage work well together and grow in their careers and as teams. Sometimes I make mistakes, but I try hard to learn from them and then incorporate that learning into the systems and culture at work so they’re less likely to happen again.

When I do spend time on technical work, it is focused on strategic and big picture issues. Every engineer should be thinking this way, but I have the “benefit” of not having a primary responsibility to write production code which means I can dedicate more time to this sort of work. And note that we’re constantly iterating on how we work so this is how I see things today, but it’s always open to improvement tomorrow.

The four teams that I work with are Atom, Electron, Desktop, and Editor Tools (the team responsible for the GitHub extension for Visual Studio). I am incredibly lucky to get to work with such a talented group of people. I’ve been really stretched in a technical sense as these teams use a wide variety of technology.

Open positions on my teams

So that leads me to the topic at hand. Several of these teams are hiring. Here are the job postings.

If building tools for this and the next generation of developers inspires you, take a look. We’re looking for software engineers who thrive as part of a team in a supportive environment. The New York Times recently published an article about what Google learned in its quest to build a perfect team. The lessons they learned about what people think makes a great team and what actually works are very interesting. We want to be a place that embodies that sort of team.

As our Jobs page mentions, we’re focused on building a diverse and inclusive workplace. We have a nice benefits package that includes a generous parental leave policy. We have flexible work schedules and a generous vacation policy.

I believe the reason we provide all this is because we’re focused on building a sustainable environment for people to do great work. We don’t want to bring a person in just to wring out as much code as possible from them because people bring so much more than just the code they can write to the table.

If that all sounds appealing to you, click on the big blue “Apply for a Job” button in those job postings.

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