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July 30, 2019

Tandemite Tuesday: Apprenticeship, Learning Consulting, and Hot Dogs

Kelsey Pierson Marketing Coordinator

Welcome to the first of many posts featuring our most excellent team.  Here at Tandem, we are all about people, whether it’s our clients, the community, or our team.  What makes us unique is the ability to collaborate with and build products for people.  This week, I sit down with Software Engineer Sasha Grodzins, and we talk about learning how to be a consultant, starting at Tandem as an apprentice, and whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich.

Q: So tell me about how you got your start here at Tandem. 

A: I started as an apprentice in 2014.  Two team members from DevMynd (Tandem’s name before we were Tandem) came to my graduation, and I’d heard about the company throughout the whole time I was at DevBootcamp because one of the recent DBC graduates and Tandem apprentice was one of my instructors.   So I met two Tandem employees at my graduation, and then I just applied because they had an apprenticeship spot open. I came in for two pairing sessions, and I was so scared! The last pairing day, I left and was just like “bye!” and as soon as I left, I got a call from JC and he said he was hoping to catch me before I left because he wanted to offer me the job!  I think I started crying on the corner of Wabansia and Damen I was so excited. We all went out for a drink and they told me about the company and he asked me if I wanted to do it, and I said yes! 

Q:  How would you say you’ve evolved over the course of your time at Tandem? 

A: The developer path is very “choose your own adventure,” so for me, I did the nine-month apprenticeship.  I needed time to learn to become a consultant because while development is not easy to learn, consulting is really hard to learn.  I spent time learning the ropes as an apprentice and then was promoted to Software Engineer I, and what that meant was I could be part of the consulting process and take on features on my own and contribute more.  I stayed in that role for a few years, then moved up to Software Engineer II, which means you can take on more responsibility, are comfortable leading meetings, and generally make more informed decisions.

I think what I’ve learned over the past couple of years is how to stand your ground as an expert in your field.  Again, with your own team members and with your clients, the confidence you gain just from time allows you to make decisions that could be contested by anyone at any point.  You can stand your ground and have reasons that are based on your experience and opinions from that experience, and I’m really liking being in that place right now. 

Q: So what specifically do you like about consulting? 

A: I think I’m good at building off other people’s ideas and collaboration.  Blank slates are really hard. I think working with a client who has something that they care about ends up being something you care about, almost as passionately, which is something people warned me of as a consultant.  They told me I wouldn’t feel as much emotional connection to the work because you don’t own it. But I haven’t found that to be true at all. I have an extremely emotional connection to my work and the people I work with, both clients and internal because at some point the consultants have to say goodbye.  

Q: How would you describe your day at Tandem? 

I’m working on this, but I often show up on the dot, if not thirty seconds late, to everything I do.  I try to make up for it, hopefully, by working hard. So I get to the office around 10 am. The project I’m on has stand up at 10, and we start our day together, so we know what we’re working on that day.  Then I get together with my pair, we find a good spot, sit down, goof around for five minutes, and then we get down to business for the next few hours.  

At noon, we break for the all company standup and have lunch, then get back to work and hunker down for the next 4 to 5 hours.  The project I’m on, we like to make our schedule so we have huge slots of time to work. Our day does sometimes get split up with project or company meetings, but we like to keep the momentum going with big chunks of time to work. 

Q: What’s your work-life balance like? 

I think I’ve always felt that when we’re in the office, and in the zone, we are getting shit done.  We’re going to do what we have to do during our day to complete our tasks, which includes development, but also story writing and estimation meetings I mentioned, which are important to set us up for success for the week.  We’ve really streamlined the meetings we do have by having smaller meetings, which sets us up for future success.  

Q: What do you like to do when you’re not working? 

I love tidying my apartment.  It’s a hobby for me because I like to go home and tidy and then do something else.  That’s pretty much a necessary process for me now. I love being at home, and since I recently bought my place, I feel pretty connected to my home.  My other hobby, truly I think, is that I like to socialize. I like to hang, which often leads to eating and drinking and walking around. It’s hard to say that’s a hobby because it’s really more like a lifestyle, but because of the way I do it, I work really hard at it to hone my skills, I feel like it’s kind of a hobby.  

I think cooking is almost a hobby.  I really want it to be something I’m good at, but I’m really like a one-pot cooker right now.  

Q:  Is a hot dog a sandwich?  If not, what constitutes a sandwich? 

Nooo.  No. A sandwich to me has to be two unconnected pieces of bread.  And it has to be risen bread, so pitas and tacos don’t count as sandwiches either. A hot dog bun has some shape and rise to it, but it’s connected at the bottom.  The other thing is, the filling, the sandwich filling, has to be multiple pieces. Because I don’t think a hamburger is a sandwich either. I would never be like, “I’m going to have a sandwich, a hamburger sandwich.” A steak sandwich, on the other hand, it’s cut up.  There’s not one hunk of steak between the bread. That wouldn’t be right otherwise.  


Like what you read about Sasha’s work at Tandem?  We’re hiring!  Check out our careers page to learn more.

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