Hi! My name is Michelle, and I joined Rareloop as a Web Developer a little over six weeks ago. I have been present in the web/digital sector for over 12 years, and over the course of my career, have worked in various digital agencies in roles slowly shifting from design into web development as my career goals changed. During that time, I have seen the dynamics of a few like-minded companies and how they function.
I was with my last agency for six years and grew with them, so starting somewhere new after that amount of time is always going to be daunting and challenging, as well as exciting – new location, new people, new ways of working. So what are my impressions of Rareloop after six weeks?
1. Attention to detail
The very first thing that stood out to me, even in the interview stage, is the care and attention that is put into every single piece of work. This thread runs from the project planning stage to fine-tuning of designs and thorough thinking through of how to tackle a development problem before any code is written. Being a perfectionist myself, I love that there is a culture of pushing for quality and never settling; this certainly aligns with my personal values.
2. Performance & progressive enhancement
Performance (the speed and ease by which web pages are loaded and can be used) and progressive enhancement (making sure users can see a core experience at the very least and adding complexity if their browser allows for it) are two components that are vital to the success of a web project, but rarely given the time or energy they deserve. At Rareloop this is seen as integral and is thought about from the very start, and I am actively working my way towards becoming a source of knowledge in the area.
3. In-house products
Rareloop has two in-house open source products; Lumberjack (a WordPress framework) and Primer (a PHP-based pattern library), which were created to solve problems discovered during the design and build process on past projects. These products serve the dual purpose of being something to put out into the world to make others’ jobs easier, and also to raise the company’s profile.
Lumberjack and Primer are constantly evolving due to both internal needs and suggestions from outside. As I get to know them better in the coming months, I should have the chance to influence their direction.
4. Team dynamics
Rareloop is a small team, but a powerful one comprising some very knowledgeable individuals who are genuinely passionate about what they do. From the first time I met them I had the impression they had their house in order and liked how organised they seemed in their approach. Since starting, it is evident there are no big egos dominating the place; everyone strives to be their best and to help other team members if they are struggling with something. As the team grows, the aim is that we have an agreed and unified way of going about working on a project and writing code.
However, it’s certainly not all serious – there is a constant barrage of groan-worthy puns and dad jokes flying around the office at all times, which is welcome as I have a very stupid sense of humour myself – I just need to up my pun game to compete!
5. Focus on being better
It is well known in the web development industry that things change at lightning speed, and individuals need to be constantly learning to keep up with current methods and technologies. At Rareloop there is a strong focus on continual personal development and setting timescales to achieve personal career goals.
In the short time I have been here, I feel I have already levelled up my skills considerably, and am looking forward to this continuing on into the future. With my design and front-end background, I also have unique skills and techniques to share with other team members.
6. Work/life balance
I wholly agree with the “work smart, not hard” mentality, and have seen first hand in the past that stressed out and overworked employees do not do their best work. I loved the fact that Rareloop had readily available tools and processes in place to allow people to do their work, and then enjoy their life. Flexible hours are in place, so if you have somewhere to be at a certain time, it can easily be fit into your working day.
To sum up my first six weeks at Rareloop, I have been challenged and have been encouraged to step out of my comfort zone – yet I have felt like I have achieved and learnt an awful lot already and will continue to do so. After all, as they say, “nothing good comes from comfort zones”. In the past, I have struggled with feeling like I am stagnating, and I don’t feel that’s going to be possible here. I am looking forward to getting stuck into projects and becoming an integral part of the team, as well as helping to drive it forwards into the future.