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Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Kate Donaldson

Kate Donaldson Tandem Alum

Ever wonder what it’s like to work at Tandem? In this series, we’re taking a peek into the everyday life of Tandem’s product designers and software engineers. 

6 a.m.

Usually I get up around 7:30 but Daylight Savings ended this weekend so I was up super early! Gave me plenty of time to get a coffee, go for a mile and a half walk to play Pokemon Go, and get a second coffee.

9 a.m.

Usually I’ll stroll over to my WFH desk sometime between 9 and 10, but again, Daylight Savings Time, so I’m at my desk at 9 a.m., going through emails and checking to see what’s coming up on my calendar for the day. I don’t have work Slack or work email on my phone, which is pretty essential during this extended period of time working from home: it helps me put a barrier up between work and home. I always wish that I would keep a to-do list to prep for the day better but I’ve never been able to develop the habit!

Today’s going to be a pretty normal Monday with lots of collaboration. Mondays are full of meetings and getting everyone started off on the right foot for the rest of the week. Also because I have a meeting with my executive coach tomorrow, I’m going over the agenda for that meeting and making sure I did the prep required.

10 a.m.

I’ve got Lightning Rounds with various segments of my team, getting us started for the day and figuring out if anyone needs anything to be unblocked. On Mondays, I get ready for the leadership team weekly meeting by starting to review the discussion points list for what we’ll be talking about.


Lightning Round with the rest of the company! Just wrapped up the leadership team meeting, where I volunteered to take point on an initiative about professional development, and threw some time on my calendar to go heads-down on that this afternoon.

I never decide what to eat for lunch until it’s too late 🙁 I’ll end up with either what my husband whips up for lunch, or something that’s easy to cook like macaroni and cheese or ramen. I eat like a 12-year-old who just got home from school and her mom isn’t home yet. Today was spaghetti-os with franks because I just can’t even with food today.

1 p.m.

Oh my gosh, Daylight Savings strikes again; it’s only 1:15 and I’m hitting my afternoon slump already! I’m going to get up and move around the house a bit, probably take a few minutes to snuggle with my cats to get revived. I’m seriously considering a third coffee (yikes). I had a real quick sync with my team and our client to answer a few open questions we had. Last week there were 12 items, but this week there were only three! I really feel like our team is getting into the groove with getting requirements defined and work accomplished!

3 p.m.

We’ve hit a really important week of successes on my team: we’re finally making some progress on our roadmap and knocking some epics off the to-do list by delivering some quality code. But one of our teammates (who’s an external contractor) is struggling with feeling like we’re in a constant grind without recognizing successes, so we’re going to bring it up in retro tomorrow and see what we can do as a team to bring more attention to how much progress we’re making.

4 p.m.

Oh man, today ended great! We got a walkthrough of the refactored logging and error handling implementation our DevSecOps team contributed last week and it is a HUGE change and really insightful. I was so excited to hear them talk about this; it’s an area where I can learn a great deal, and they gave a really clear demonstration on how to use our new logging and benchmarking capabilities.

This afternoon I also paired with Eli for half an hour; we’re working on our outside projects, and he’s doing some coding and I’m doing some design, so we’re both learning and stepping out of our wheelhouse! He and I did a design crit of some work I did over the weekend designing my blog, and I learned SO much. I love having this kind of relationship with my fellow Tandemites, where we collaborate and learn from each other even on non-work projects.

After Work

Right now I have a volunteer side gig for a non-profit so I’m sometimes coding on that in the evening. I’ve also been writing up some snarky film reviews on Facebook over quarantine: I started with Disney Animated Features. I want to put them out in the wider world so I’m writing a blog and using a new framework; sometimes at night I’m coding on that. Otherwise I’m watching Castle and knitting a scarf.

Do you want to work with Kate and the rest of the Tandem team? Check out our Careers page to apply for our open positions!

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