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Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Sara McMullin

Sara McMullin 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.


On a typical day, I set my alarm for 7 am, knowing full well that I will be smashing that snooze button for at least an hour. I could just set my alarm for 8 am, but I always hope I’ll wake earlier and never do. Around 8:00, my 70-pound boxer puppy (yes, I said puppy — he is not even a year old yet!) sits on my head to let me know it is time to take him out for a walk.

After taking him out for his puppy social walk (all the other pups are out around this time) and saying hello to my fellow neighbors and dog moms, I grab some breakfast and my coffee and settle into my first two hours of the day.

9 am

Since I live on the east coast, I tend to be one of the first people online at work which allows me to brush up on things that might have been a challenge the day before.

Currently, part of what I am doing is converting components from React to Typescript. I like to have the morning to go over documentation so I can better understand how to use TypeScript to the best of its abilities in our codebase. I have a notes folder that I add to while pairing throughout the day so I can go back and look into something that I’m not familiar with or want to take a deeper dive into the following day. A few weeks ago, I was focusing on React Testing Library, and earlier in the year, I took some Udemy Courses on GraphQL.

Going over documentation first thing in the morning gives my brain a chance to warm up before my upcoming pairing sessions and learn something new to discuss with my partner during our sessions. It’s also a great way to stay on top of the personal growth goals I’ve set with my manager.

10 am

Around 10:30-11, I start looking at what’s in store for the day. Sometimes I’ll start my first pair session or reach out and get some time on the calendar for an afternoon pairing.

If my pairing partner cannot meet until the afternoon, I’ll see if there are any new code reviews posted in our devs Slack channel — sometimes I get a chance to huddle on something new in our project, which is a great way to gain context on the bigger picture.

Today I got to pair with Ryan on writing a test in a query dropdown component. I needed help on an issue and needed a new set of eyes on the code. We worked on setting up some mock data to query using Apollo MockProvider — this was new for both of us so it was a good mix of fun and challenging to learn about.


Around 12 pm is when we have our project standup. After that, I take the pup out for another walk around the block and grab one of those jelly coffees from Pete’s — it gives me just enough time to get back for the Tandem team standup.

1 pm

Now it’s lunchtime! Sometimes I am Instagram influencer-level efficient and can squeeze in a hot yoga session and grab a healthy lunch before I get back to work. Other times, I need to mentally recharge by looking at Bored Panda articles and ordering takeout — those are what I like to call PJs all-day kind of days. I’m a grazer, so I tend to just chew on things that are within reach throughout the day. This is why I am so thankful for cocktail cucumbers and grape tomatoes. Those little stickers on veggies aren’t toxic if you accidentally eat them, right? Asking for a friend…

3 pm

When my pairing partner Kitto is back from lunch, we sync up and start working together on tickets. We work together for the remainder of the day, taking small breaks for coffee and water refills until the day is done. Then we do a mini retro on what went well and what we would like to work on the following day. During this time we take notes on what is discussed, so we don’t have to waste time remembering where we left off the day before.

5 pm

After our mini retro, I respond to any emails or Slack messages I may have missed, update my calendar, and tie up any loose ends before I sign off.

After Work

I take the pup out for another walk. I usually enjoy meeting up with a friend for dinner, getting some pool time in, practicing ultimate frisbee in the park, or thinking I’m going to do those things and then falling asleep on the sofa by accident. Either way, I consider it an evening well spent. Today I finally got the chance to meet up with my neighbor friend and enjoy some time in the pool for the first time all summer! I wish laptops were waterproof.

Earlier today my A/C unit had an issue that caused half my bedroom carpet to get flooded. It’s always nice to have a bit of drama in one’s life now and again.

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

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